Charles Woodson turns 37 on Monday. Most NFL players are spectators at that age, with trophies and jerseys and photos of time well spent. Not this old man. He’s playing like a much younger, unquestionably talented man. He had two takeaways in Sunday night’s 27-17 victory over the San Diego Chargers, both of them vital to the outcome.
His fumble recovery returned 25 yards for a touchdown kept the surging Chargers at a reasonable distance in the second half. His fourth-quarter interception officially sealed a crucial victory. He’s become a spark plug, an unquestioned leader in name, speech and effort. Woodson’s at the tail end of a storied career, but he still has juice left in the tank. Every now and then, you’re reminded of all the good things he’s done.
His big score was the 13th defensive touchdown of his career, which ties an NFL record reached by Darren Sharper and Rod Woodson. “It says that I’m one of the greatest to ever play this game,” Woodson said. “First and foremost, it really means something because it contributed to a victory. To be in the history books is really big time.” So was his effort on a defense that produced four takeaways (a fifth came from a muffed punt) all essential to victory. Those plays directly led to 17 points.
“We’ve been due,” Woodson said. “We’ve played four previous games without creating turnovers. Today, we made the plays when they were presented to us.” The defense did so at key moments, when the offense lost its way and when the Chargers crept uncomfortably close. D.J. Hayden intercepted Philip Rivers in the end zone with a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter. That put the Raiders in firm command, and Woodson sealed the victory.
“He’s made a habit of doing that his whole career – a defensive score and an interception to seal the game,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “That’s what we expect out of him. He’s been a playmaker, and he’ll continue to be a playmaker for us.”
- Scott Bair, CSN Bay Area