Anytime that the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders hook up, more often than not, the Chargers prevail. But to be fair, both teams are polar opposites.
Sunday’s game in Oakland would prove that on any given Sunday in the National Football League, anything can and sometimes does happen.
Even with a change of quarterbacks the norm for the Raiders, they employed other parts of their game plan, namely defense as a late fumble recovery by Tyvon Branch with 58 seconds left in the game helped Oakland rally and surprise San Diego 35-27.
To prove that numbers can be deceiving, the Chargers outgained the Raiders 506-279 yet defense would make the difference early on as a pair of blocked punts turned into nine points in the first quarter, along with a 50-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski, giving Oakland a 12-0 lead going into the second quarter.
But the Chargers would storm back as Philip Rivers connected with Antonio down the middle for a 19-yard TD pass, narrowing their deficit to 12-7. A little over 5 minutes later, Mike Tolbert would enter the end zone on a 4-yard TD run, gicing San Diego the lkead at 14-12.
The first half would end as both teams traded field goals 57 seconds apart, allowing the Chargers to go to their locker room with a narrow 17-15 lead.
Malcom Floyd would become the recipient of a 41-yard scoring pass by Rivers, extending San Diego’s lead to 24-15 but Jason Campbell would connect with a 1-yard TD toss to Zach Miller, beinging Oakland to within 24-22 with 1:13 left in the third.
Three minutes into the final period, Nate Kaeding booted a 34-yard FG, putting San Diego up 27-22 but the final 12 minutes was all Raiders.
Campbell would lead the Raiders on a 14-ploay, 73-yard drive, capped by a Michael Bush TD run of 3 yards, which gave Oakland the lead for good at 28-27. They would cap the game’s scoring on a Rivers fumble. Rivers’ arm was going forward when a Raiders’ lineman clubbed his arm; the loose ball would be picked up by Branch and he would scamper 64 yards for the touchdown, putting the Raiders up 35-27.
Campbell, who took over for Bruce Gradkowski early on, went 13-of-18 for 159 yards and a TD while Rivers outgained Oakland all by himself, going 27-of-42 for 431 yards with a pair of TDs.
Bush accounted for 104 of the Raiders’ 111 rushing yards along with 3 catches for 31 yards while Ryan Matthews led the Chargers rushers with 9 carries for 59 yards.
Miller led all Raiders receivers with 6 receptions for 62 yards and a TD while Louis Murphy caught 2 for 61 yards. Floyd had a career day for the Chargers as he caught 8 balls for 213 yards and a score while Antonio Gates caught 5 passes for 92 and a score.
Oakland (2-3) look to build on their momentum as they travel across the Bay Bridge to take on the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday while San Diego (2-3) flies east to take on the Sam Bradford-led St. Louis Rams – also next Sunday.