Chargers-Raiders: What we learned

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Chargers have their eyes on a playoff berth for one more week.
Considering where they sat three weeks ago, that's an encouraging sight.
"If we do find a way to get in, we have weathered and had experience in close games,'' Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We will be tested and are ready to see what happens.''
First the surging Chargers, a 26-13 winner over the visiting Oakland Raiders on Sunday, have to beat the Kansas City Chiefs in next week's finale.
The teams the Chargers are chasing for the AFC's final playoff spot, the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens, have to lose as well.
The Chargers (8-7) won their third straight game for the first time this season,
Rivers threw a go-ahead, 4-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen to remain alive in the playoff race by overcoming three turnovers.
It was the Raiders fifth straight loss.
The Raiders had their chances Sunday, but they didn't take full advantage of two Chargers fumbles and a Rivers interception. The Raiders also were flagged 12 times and were but 4-for-13 (31 percent) on third downs.
Allen's 4-yard, third-quarter scoring catch eased the Chargers in front 17-10. Nick Novak added three field goals in a second half dominated by the Chargers.
Rivers was 19-of-29 for 201 yards and a score, which was better than Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin, who was 20-of-36 for 206 yards and an interception.

What the Raiders said
"That part is just part of the business. There are a lot of teams going through the same thing. You don't worry about those things as far as who is going and not going to be here, you just go out there and play football and try to get wins. When the season is over, what's going to happen is going to happen.'' - Raiders S Charles Woodson, on knowing there is heat on the Raiders' coaching staff.

What the Chargers said
"You can't help but glance up there when they're showing the scores every couple of games. Last week we didn't get any help. But this week we did and we're still alive. That's all we're looking forward to.'' - Chargers LB Donald Butler, admitting that the players are human and watch the scoreboard for results of games that affect their playoff chances.

What we learned about the Raiders
1. The Raiders were hoping to unleash a two-headed running attack with the return of Darren McFadden after he had missed five of the last six games with injuries. While McFadden was out, Rashad Jennings had emerged as a threat. The thinking was the Raiders could hog the ball by winning the time of possession battle and keep the ball away from Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. But against the Chargers, the Raiders had trouble establishing their running game, finishing with just 59 rushing yards. McFadden had a touchdown carry, but he finished with only 8 yards on four carries. Jennings had 10 carries for 45 yards. Only one Raiders carry, from Jennings, went for more than 8 yards.
2. The Raiders need a quarterback, and that's not really breaking news. But it's clear that Matt McGloin, an undrafted free agent out of Penn State, is limited in his skill set. The Raiders thought they had the answer in Terrelle Pryor, but his standing has dropped dramatically after an impressive start. Pryor didn't take a snap on Sunday and McGloin didn't do much to help his cause going forward. McGloin had a quarterback rating of 60.6, as he completed 20 of 36 passes for 206 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

What we learned about the Chargers
1. Ryan Mathews is providing positive answers to any questions the Chargers had about their running back. Durability and ball-security issues were paramount before the season, and Mathews entered the season having to prove to a new coaching staff that he was worthy of being a first-round draft choice in 2010. Mathews added another touchdown on Sunday in what has been his best season. He's passed the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his career and his six rushing touchdowns are a career-best. He had just one last year. His 1,111 yards are a career-high.
2. Wide receiver Keenan Allen kept his name alive in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year conversation with another solid day. Allen had a scoring catch among his three receptions for 26 yards. Allen was the eighth wide receiver selected in the draft, his stock slipping after suffering a knee injury in his final season at California. Allen has set the Chargers' rookie reception mark with 66 catches. Allen, who has eight touchdown catches, was inconsistent during the preseason. But ultimately he made the most of his chance when the team was hit with injuries at that position to Danario Alexander and Malcom Floyd.

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