By: Malaika Bobino
Oakland, CA – It wasn’t the way they wanted the season to start. But unexpected mistakes surprised the team and the sellout crowd. Three botched punts after Jon Condo left the game with an injury left the Raiders in dismay.
Oakland lost 22-14 to the San Diego Chargers on their Monday Night home opener. Not the start envisioned, especially after a up and down pre-season. Losing Condo resulted in a huge problem with snapping the ball.
“It’s pretty hard,” said backup long snapper Travis Goethel. “It’s hard snapping on the dirt and I’ve never had to snap on the dirt before. Trust me I wish it never happened.”
It’s hard to understand why snapping the ball became such a big problem. When you play at a professional level, it’s hard to comprehend that mishandling a ball can result in the loss of a game.
Early in the third quarter, the Raiders were on 4th and 2 from the Chargers 48. But after a penalty Oakland decided to punt and Goethel, who last snapped in high school rolled it back to Shane Lechler, who got tackled for the loss. This set up a 28-yard field goal for Nate Kaeding.
“He’s worked on snapping the ball in practice,” coach Dennis Allen said. “It’s obviously a lot different when you get into a game like situation. He was put into a tough situation and it hurt us.”
“I can imagine you’re going to see 31 other teams working a lot of backup long snappers come Wednesday,” said Kaeding. “It’s something a lot of teams honestly don’t do a lot of. It’s just one play away from someone having to go in there and get it done. It was unfortunate for them obviously.
Travis rolled another snap in the fourth, again turning over the ball to San Diego to set up another field goal. Nate kicked a career-high five field goals int he game. The Raiders scored their first touchdown in the final minutes of the game. After a great start, with Carson Palmer moving the offense well, Rod Streater fumbled a 8-yard pass that switched the momentum of the game.
Phillip Rivers threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Floyd to get the offense rolling early. The Chargers took advantage of the mistakes and cruised to their first win despite Oakland’s defense which did a phenomenal job at holding their offense to only field goals.
“I’ve always tried to take care of the football and be smart but you have to be able to manage the situation,” Rivers said. “The situation today was our defense playing good, our special teams is getting the ball. If you go back since I’ve been playing here, if we don’t turn the ball over, it’s 90-something percent we win. That was the key to our offense.”