SAN DIEGO-The Oakland Raiders got their groove on early. The San Diego Chargers came to their own party late. The Silver and Black wound up going home with a smile on their faces. As for the Chargers, party-crashing when everyone else has left the building, will serve as a reminder to arrive on time on the next go-round. When you get to the party late, sometimes you miss out on all the fun.
The Chargers were a no-show for three quarters. The Raiders came, partied and left with a 37-29 win in San Diego’s’ backyard. The Raiders’ victory at Qualcomm Stadium turned out to be an afternoon of fun for the visitors from up north.
“It was a great day to play some football,” said Raiders rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper.
Cooper had a lot of fun. He caught five of Derek Carr’s passes for 133 yards in receiving, including producing a nifty 52-yard, razzle-dazzle touchdown catch and run in Oakland’s 20-point scoring outburst in the second quarter.
“It was just the perfect play,” Cooper said. “When I caught the ball, I saw that I had a lot of room. I kind of started to stumble but I got my footing back. I saw the guys coming and I just made some moves on them.”
It wasn’t such a great a time for the Chargers, who scored 23 points in the final quarter to make the score look somewhat respectable. For the first three quarters of the game, the Chargers looked as if they were sleepwalking, while the Raiders feasted in their revelry with a 37-6 lead. By halftime, the Chargers had stood by and watched the Raiders put up 30 points on them.
“You still got 30 minutes to go out there and play,” said safety Jimmy Wilson. “You got to step up and go out there and make the best out of it. We knew they were going to run the ball, so we tried to get as many three-and-outs as possible, give our offense a chance. Our offense started scoring the ball. Maybe, if we had two more minutes on the clock it would have worked out, but that’s not the way it goes. Anytime you give up 30 points at half, the game is over.”
To win in the National Football League consistently, there are two basic concepts that never seem to fail: run the football and play defense. The Chargers struggled with both on Sunday. Another game has gone by, and the Chargers’ run game has become all but nonexistent. While the Chargers rank first in yards from scrimmage (430 yards) and first in passing (343.6 yards), they rank 29th out of 32 teams in rushing (87.1 yards) the football.
Unfortunately for the team’s sake, the imbalance of the Chargers’ offense against the Raiders was on display again. Quarterback Philip Rivers attempted 58 passes, completed 38 of his throws and passed for three touchdowns. On the dark side of things, Rivers also threw two interceptions. Meanwhile, the rushing attack became none and void, generating less than 100 yards (90 yards total) between Danny Woodhead, Melvin Gordon and Brenden Oliver.
At 2-5, what do the Chargers have to do to get back on the winning track?
“We don’t have a choice,” Wilson said. “We are about as low as we can get. We’ve got to figure it out, come to work on Monday. Everybody needs to have thick skin. Got to watch the film, correct ourselves, and get back to it, get back to the grind. We’re men. We can’t run from it. We have a whole season to play.”
There’s always a bright side to any situation. The bright side for the Chargers Sunday was showing off their prolific offense in their 23-point fourth quarter. Another positive sighting was that quarterback Philip Rivers ripped off another 300-yard game (327 yards). Wide receiver Keenan Allen (9 catches, 89 yards) continues his offensive rampage. But this is where the train stops.
Those 23 points came too little, too late for the Chargers.
We’ve got to learn from it, first of all,” Allen said. “It’s still a learning process. Obviously, when the offense gets rolling, we can score points. It’s just a matter of doing it early and finding ourselves and having a vision of making plays and winning the game.”
Winning starts at kickoff. The Chargers waited a little late to turn their game juices on. Meanwhile, the Raiders came ready to play.
“It’s all about starting fast, making plays and be effective on offense, defense and special teams,” said Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack. “We made adjustments early on, prepared well and fought to the finish.”