The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders headed into Sunday’s match-up with two complete different story lines on the season. The Raiders face questions about their future with rumors of a coaching change swirling around, while the Chargers still held hope of making the playoffs after the Dolphins lost to the Buffalo Bills during the morning games.
With the Raiders struggling to get their offense going, the Chargers took control of the first quarter with a 16-play possession on their first drive, winding 9:15 off the clock but only resulting in a field goal from Nick Novak to put the Chargers up 3-0 early. Cornerback Mike Jenkins came up to make a big hit on Chargers running back Danny Woodhead to limit the Chargers to the field goal attempt.
The Raiders were able to take advantage of a couple of Chargers turnovers in the second quarter to get some points on the board.
Oakland’s first score came off of a fumble by Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers went up to make a call adjustment at the line of scrimmage but center Nick Hardwick snapped the ball and Raiders linebacker Miles Burris recovered the loose ball on the 42-yard line.
Raiders running back Darren McFadden punched the ball in from five yards out to give him his first touchdown since week eight. The score gave the Raiders the 10-3 lead. The touchdown was made possible by an acrobatic catch by tight end Mychal Rivera, who hauled in a 37-yard reception from Matt McGloin to give the Raiders first and goal from the five.
The Raiders would force another turnover as Rivers and the Chargers were driving down the field. Jenkins would make another big play as he leaped in front of wide receiver Vincent Brown to come down with the interception, giving the Raiders the ball on their own 10-yard line.
But the Raiders could not capitalize on the gained possession. McGloin gave the ball right back to the Chargers as he was picked off by safety Eric Weddle for his 8th interception of the season. Chargers running back Ryan Mathews would run the ball in from seven yards out to give the Chargers the lead again, 10-7.
It looked as if the Raiders would be giving the ball back to the Chargers with enough time for them to tack on to their lead but Chargers rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen muffed Marquette King’s punt, giving the Raider another chance to get on the board before the half.
The Raiders used a nice play on a screen to Marcel Reece to get to the two-yard line with first and goal. But the Chargers defense would stand, forcing two incomplete passes and run for no gain. The Raiders would settle for a field goal, heading into halftime tied with the Chargers 10-10.
The Chargers would be the first to score in the second half as well as Rivers found Allen wide open in the end zone with a pick play to give the Chargers the 17-0 lead.
With wide receiver Jacoby Ford a healthy scratch, rookie Greg Jenkins handled return duties and made a crucial mistake. Jenkins brought a ball out from relatively deep in the end zone and fumbled the ball with the Raiders down 20-10 late in the third quarter. The defense would ultimately hold, but the Chargers would take a 23-10 lead off of the turnover.
The Raiders seemed to be making a late run at the Chargers after forcing field goals and McGloin finding a wide-open Rod Streater at the goal line. After one referee ruled it a touchdown, another said the ball came out and was incomplete. Allen challenged the play but the ruling on the field stood, resulting in an incomplete pass.
The play in question occurred with 4:46 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Raiders would extend the play and get down to the Chargers one-yard line, before an illegal formation penalty would force a fourth and goal from the six yard line with just :59 remaining. With no time, McGloin tossed a ball up at the goal line and Reece dropped the reception.
Given the ball on-downs, Rivers could take a knee and secure the win as the Raiders had no timeouts remaining.
The Raiders return home to finish off the season as they host the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning, who has already broken the record for most touchdown passes in a season (51).