Oakland, CA – It was the latest NFL game ever scheduled but that didn’t stop the Raiders from coming out and playing good football in Sunday’s late game.
All the pieces were in place for the first time this season. Both the offense and defense did what they were suppose to do in Oakland’s 27-17 win over the San Diego Chargers,
On the third play from scrimmage the Raiders Usama Young picked off Philip Rivers for a 25-yard return. That set up Terrelle Pryor’s 44-yard touchdown to Rod Streater. Just two minutes into the game, Oakland set the tone early.
“I think today, team-wise, was more complete,” said Charles Woodson. “I think if you look at the offense and being able to move the ball and keep us off the field, those things work together. But I think today, offense, defense, special teams, and a big play by Taiwan [Jones] getting down there and forcing the fumble on the return. If we can get all phases of the game to work together, we can get big wins like this.”
Woodson was a huge part of tonight’s victory, in the third quarter he recovered a fumble and returned it 25-yards for a touchdown. That play tied him with Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper for the most defensive touchdowns of all-time.
It was also the Raiders first defensive touchdown this season. Oakland forced San Diego to turn the ball over countless times and Charles didn’t stop there with his big plays. He and DJ Hayden both picked off Rivers in the Charger’s final two drives to secure the Raider’s win.
“He’s [Charles Woodson] made a habit of doing that this his whole career,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “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.”
Pryor continued to dominate early, he found Denarius Moore in the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown for the 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Oakland’s defense was all over the Chargers, stifling them the entire first half.
They came close on 4th and goal in the second quarter but the Raiders defense stopped them short. Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 47-yard field goal to end the half with a 17-0 lead. This was the biggest lead for Oakland in the first half since 2002.
“You always practice and you always talk and preach that you want to start fast because it’s a big impact,” said Terrelle. “I thought third quarter we died down and Philip [Rivers] had their offense rolling and it was scary because when he’s on, he’s on. He caught fire and we had to keep punching back, we had to keep striking. I thought we started fast and then slowed down and that’s not going to work in the NFL.”
Rivers came out fighting in the second half, throwing for two touchdowns to cut the lead 24-17. But his three interceptions took a toll on the offense. Philip connected with Keenan Allen for an 11-yard touchdown that was reversed after replay showed Allen got one foot down inbounds.
San Diego kept fighting back, Rivers found both Allen and Danny Woodhead for two touchdowns to start the fourth quarter. While Oakland’s offense slowed down, Pryor came up with a big play of his own by scrambling before hitting Brice Butler on a 20-yard pass on third-and-14. That set up Jankowski’s 50-yard field goal to extend the Raiders lead to 27-17.
“We came out and we were outplayed in all three phases,” Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said. “It’s tough to go on the road and turn the ball over the way we did and win a game on the road against a good football team. Too many big plays.”
Oakland played their best game of the season thus far. Many would think they should probably play their remainder games at 8:30. But the team and organization had no problem with moving their original time 1:25pm back to accommodate the Oakland A’s in the playoffs. After the A’s beat the Tigers on Saturday evening, it took 18 hours to convert the field back to football.
“We were playing a good football team and this is one of the occasions, you’re under the lights, you’re pretty much going to be tested,” said Kevin Burnett. “We answered the test today and we just have to continue to build on it and know that we’re a good football team. We need to play like this all the time.”