Raiders strike first in series against Chargers

October 9, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers punter Drew Kaser (8) misses the snap on a field goal attempt in front of kicker Josh Lambo (2) during the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
October 9, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers punter Drew Kaser (8) misses the snap on a field goal attempt in front of kicker Josh Lambo (2) during the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chargers traveled up the Pacific on Sunday to take on the Oakland Raiders. It seems as if every week the Chargers are trying to recover from a disappointing loss the week before. This week the Chargers attempted to dig themselves out of a 1-3 start to the season and fourth-quarter meltdown last week to the Saints.

With several key defensive players out on the Chargers’ side and an explosive Oakland offense, this game looked to be a shootout–and it didn’t fail to live up to expectations. Vegas had the over/under somewhere around 50, however, the game started off with a series of defensive turnovers. Chargers nose tackle Brandon Mebane picked off Derek Carr on a failed screen, and the Raiders caused an Antonio Gates’ fumble on the Chargers’ first series.

Things finally settled down on the Raiders second possession. Derek Carr went 5-5 with a series of short passes and a long bomb to Amari Cooper. The series finally ended with an Oakland field goal. The Chargers secondary looked suspect, and the defensive line looked soft at the start of the game but came up with an impressive stop to start the game.

On the Chargers second possession, Philip Rivers threw deep to Travis Benjamin but was intercepted. The game looked to already be over, however, the defense once again stepped up, forcing the Raiders to attempt a field goal, which Janikowski missed.

Early in the second quarter, Rivers looked deep and connected with Tyrell Williams on a 29-yard touchdown, putting the Chargers up 7-3. The Chargers’ defense continued to bend but not break, completing a second red-zone stop, forcing the Raiders to kick their third field goal of the game, closing the Chargers lead to 7-6.

On the ensuing Chargers possession, Benjamin showed off his speed, catching a pass and running for a 54-yard gain. This large catch and run put the Chargers in the red zone for the second time of the game. After two lackluster runs by Dexter McCluster and Gordon, the Chargers settled for a 36-yard field goal, putting the Chargers up 10-6.

At the end of the second quarter and on third and long, Philip Rivers launched it down field hoping for a large gain, or a long enough pass to compensate for a punt. The pass was intercepted, and after a stagnant offensive series, the Raiders were eventually forced to kick a 56-yard field goal, which brought the score to 10-9 Chargers.

At the beginning of the second quarter, Philip Rivers connected with Hunter Henry for a long gain. The drive was capped off by a touchdown from Melvin Gordon, compliments of a perfect screen pass. However, on the ensuing Raiders possession, the banged up Chargers’ secondary showed when Cooper got wide open for a walk-in 64-yard touchdown catch to bring the score to 17-16.

The offensive fireworks didn’t stop there. Immediately after those quick possessions, Rivers found Williams for a 50-yard gain, which was followed by a 24-yard run by Melvin Gordon. The drive was capped off with a one-yard Hunter Henry touchdown, making the score 24-16.  Rivers tied for ninth all-time in touchdown passes with 291 with that score.

The Raiders put together an impressive 10-play, 45-yard drive, but once again the Chargers’ defense put up an impressive stop, forcing the Raiders’ Janikowski to kick a 48-yard field goal, chipping away at the Chargers lead and bringing the score to 24-19.

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Late in the third quarter, Melvin Gordon once again fumbled the ball during a crucial drive. The fumble put the Raiders on the Chargers’ 38-yard line. The Raiders elected to go for it on fourth-and-2, and once again the Chargers’ secondary folded when Carr connected with Michael Crabtree for a 27-yard touchdown. After a successful two-point conversion to Cooper, the Raiders took the lead 27-24.

On the ensuing possession, the Raiders’ defense looked in sync and forced a three-and-out. Rookie Drew Kaser was called upon for his first punt of the game, which was a terrible 17-yard punt, giving the Raiders the ball on the Chargers 32-yard line.

After a couple unimpressive plays, Raiders fullback Jamize Olawale scored from one yard out, and after a good extra point the score was 34-24. The game looked out of reach with 12 minutes left in the game, but Philip Rivers started to play like a man on fire. Rivers completed passes to Benjamin, Henry and Antonio Gates. Rivers got help with a couple of key first downs picked up by Gordon on the ground. The drive was capped off with a Gates’ touchdown reception, bringing the Chargers within three points at 34-31.

With less than seven minutes left in the game, the Chargers’ defense held up to their end of the deal, forcing the Raiders’ offense to a three-and-out. This stop was highlighted with a sack by Joey Bosa, who ended his debut with two sacks, three tackles for loss and five tackles.

The Chargers took the field with a little over four minutes left in the fourth quarter, and Rivers quickly got in rhythm with Benjamin and Williams, but they would settle for a field goal to tie the game. However, Kaser mishandled the snap and would turn the ball over to the Raiders.

The Chargers’ defense would step up once again, forcing the Raiders to another three-and-out. But the Chargers received the ball with 11 seconds left in the game and attempted a final lateral play, which was quickly shut down, resulting in another tough Chargers 34-32 defeat.

Week after week, the Chargers play an impressive three quarters but somehow find a way to lose it in the final minutes of the game. The Chargers are looking up on the rest of the division, as they sit in last place.

The Chargers will have a short week to prepare for a Thursday night game at home against the 4-1 Denver Broncos.