Oakland, CA – The Raiders looked their best in almost three years. But the final seconds of the game mirrored the past two years. Philip Rivers moved his offense downfield to set up Branden Oliver’s one-yard touchdown with less than two minutes in regulation. Oakland got the ball back, Derek Carr went deep and was picked off by rookie Jason Verrett.
The Raiders lost a tough one when they fell to the Chargers 31-28. Carr’s pass was intended for Brice Butler who was covered tightly, but it was shot they thought could get. Unfortunately, trailing by three with 1:20 left in the game, Carr’s pass was intercepted and San Diego ran the clock out to end the game.
“Just trying to go one-on-one on that play,” Carr said. “Going into it, they played quarters right there to that side, if I’m not mistaken. Brice had a double move, so we knew he would have a one-on-one so, I pumped it, the safety was not in play, I wasn’t worried about the safety so I was just giving Brice a chance there.”
“It was a scenario where the coverage dictated where the ball was going to go and we took the shot,” said Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano. “The kid made a heck of a play as you can see. We’re talking about an inch one way or an inch the other way and that’s the nature of the game.”
It was no better way to start the game than with with a 77-yard touchdown pass from Carr to Andre Holmes on opening drive. That play was the longest touchdown pass in Oakland’s history since Russell-Miller in 1986 on October 18, 2009. The Chargers responded quickly tying the game 7-7, Rivers found Eddie Royal for a 29-yard touchdown.
Oakland’s defense failed to stop San Diego on multiple plays despite a good effort. Rivers was sacked once and Carr was sacked none. The Chargers answered every time the Raiders scored. It was definitely an entertaining game to say the least. Rivers threw three touchdown passes and orchestrated the winning drive to seal San Diego’s victory. He went 22-for-34 throwing a total of 313 yards.
Carr accomplished something his older brother David never did and that’s throw four touchdown passes in one game. He tied the game in the second quarter, Carr connected with James Jones for the 6-yard touchdown. Maybe the burial of the football last week, the loss in London, the bye week and a new head coach were all motivational factors for this team to turn things around.
“It’s very frustrating when you play a team like that,” LB Sio Moore said. “If anybody watched that game, you know we had that game won. They’re not better than us period. We have to close games out when it gets to that point, it doesn’t matter where the ball is. Come fourth quarter it’s not a situation where it should be that crucial and if it is we know what to do.”
“It didn’t work out the way we wanted it to today,” said DE Justin Tuck. “But you always want to have the opportunity to stop an offense and preserve a win. Obviously, we’re not in the game for moral victories. We’re proud of the effort we had and things like that, but we’ve got to find a way to get off the field or at least hold them to a field goal or something.”
Sebastian Janikowski attempted a 53-yard field goal in the final minutes of the half but missed wide left. The Chargers came out of the half strong, Rivers threw a few bullets to move his offense down field but the Raiders defense held them. Nick Novak’s 54-yard field goal attempt was negated by a penalty and Oakland scored on Carr’s third touchdown, a 47-yard touchdown pass to Butler to extend their lead 21-14.
This is the first time the Raiders lead in the third quarter since Thanksgiving of last year. Carr finished the day going 18-for-34 for 282 yards. Rivers who was just as good if not better, connected with Malcolm Floyd for a 44-yard pass to setup a 2-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates tying the game 21-21. Oakland responded with a 6-yard touchdown pass in the fourth and lead 28-21 with 10 minutes left in the game.
“That’s the best team in the league according to most of you,” Sparano said. “I have all the confidence in the world they’ll play hard next week. We need to win these kind of football games. That’s how we turn this thing around.”