Raiders-Chargers: What we learned

Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- With Darren McFadden sidelined by a hamstring injury and Terrelle Pryor playing for the first time since suffering a concussion, the Oakland Raiders needed a boost from another source Sunday night.
They got it from a guy who knows his way around the end zone as well as any defensive player in NFL history.
Charles Woodson tied an NFL record for defensive scores when he returned a fumble 25 yards for a third-quarter touchdown, and the Raiders took advantage of five San Diego turnovers to record a 27-17 victory over the Chargers.
Coming off a home loss in which they blew a 14-0 lead without Pryor in the lineup, the Raiders used touchdown passes by the second-year standout to Rod Streater and Denarius Moore to build a 17-0 halftime advantage against their AFC West rivals.
Woodson's big play on his 37th birthday provided the difference-making points, increasing Oakland's lead to 24-3 with 2:37 remaining in the third quarter. The veteran free safety scooped up a bouncing ball that was produced by a Nick Roach hit on Danny Woodhead. Woodson took off running, diving into the end zone for his 13th career defensive score.
"It just means I've been around the game a long time, I've made a bunch of plays and I'm one of the greatest to ever play this game," said Woodson, who tied the defensive-touchdown mark held by Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper. "Old cousin Rod. I'm coming for him."
Philip Rivers, held in check for the better part of three quarters, rallied the Chargers (2-3) within 24-17 with 10:17 to play with short touchdown passes to Woodhead and rookie Keenan Allen. The 7-yard connection with Allen, his first professional score, made it a one-possession game.
However, Sebastian Janikowski connected on a 50-yard field goal with 4:24 left to stretch Oakland's lead back to 10 points. Rivers was intercepted in the end zone by rookie DJ Hayden with 1:48 to go to seal the win for the Raiders (2-3).
"In the second half, we did a lot of good things," Rivers said after amassing 315 of his 411 passing yards after halftime. "But we turned the ball over three times in a half."
Rivers, who entered the game with the NFL's second-highest passer rating, hit on 36 of his 49 passes. However, his two touchdown passes were more than offset by three interceptions.
San Diego's Vincent Brown made eight catches for 117 yards, and Allen added six catches for 115 yards.
"We thought we could come back," said Allen, who played his college ball at nearby Cal. "Once we get going, we can do a lot of great things. We just had a bad start today."

What the Raiders said
"He's made a habit of doing that his whole career -- a defensive score and an interception to seal the game. That's what we expect out of him. He's been a playmaker for us, and he'll continue to be a playmaker for us." -- Coach Dennis Allen, on Woodson.

What the Chargers said
"We had a chance to make it 27-24 with just under two minutes. Then a guy (Raiders cornerback DJ Hayden) makes a great play. If we went out there and ran the play again, I'd throw it just where I threw it. I was focused on (Charles) Woodson there. I had him where I wanted him, and I didn't see 25 (Hayden) there." -- Quarterback Philip Rivers.

What we learned about the Chargers
1. Malcom Floyd might be out for the season, but the Chargers have other options at the wideout position opposite Vincent Brown. Rookie Keenan Allen exploded onto the scene in front of his old University of California fans, hauling in six passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Allen nearly had a second touchdown catch, losing an apparent 11-yard score when a video review determined he did not get a second foot down.
2. The Chargers' running game is struggling this season, and it isn't likely to get better anytime soon. Ryan Mathews suffered a concussion in the first half of Sunday's loss, putting the ball in the hands of Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown. Woodhead caught a touchdown among nine receptions for 58 yards, but he and Brown were limited to 24 yards on 16 carries.

What we learned about the Raiders
1. The Raiders didn't look like a team that went four games without an interception. Yes, they gave up 411 passing yards Sunday, but most of that total came late when they were in a bit of a prevent defense. Most important, their three interceptions outnumbered Philip Rivers' two touchdown passes. The quality of the interceptions was as critical as the quantity. DJ Hayden intercepted Rivers in the end zone with the Raiders clinging to a 10-point lead and 1:48 to play. Charles Woodson, on his 37th birthday, shut the door on the Chargers with an end-zone interception in the final seconds.
2. The Raiders might be outmanned by many teams on offense and defense, but they believe they can hold their own on special teams with anybody. They certainly dominated the Chargers in that area Sunday night. Sebastian Janikowski connected on 47- and 50-yard field goals. Meanwhile, Chargers kicker Nick Novak had a 37-yarder blocked by Tracy Porter. Oakland's Marquette King averaged 49.5 yards on six punts -- a full 11 yards better than rival Mike Scifres -- and the Raiders' Chimdi Chekwa was in the right place at the right time to recover a punt muffed by the Chargers' Eddie Royal.

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