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New look for Raiders after bye

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ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders under Jack Del Rio broke with one unwanted recent tradition in a 37-29 AFC West win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Previous regimes struggled coming out of a bye as the Raiders lost 11 of their last 12 following a week off. However, Del Rio’s Raiders came out firing in all three phases Sunday, building a 37-6 lead after the first possession of the second half before easing off the gas.

The fact that San Diego outscored the Raiders 23-0 in the fourth quarter made the end result more cosmetic in terms of a final score, but there was no doubt as to the superior team. While San Diego coach Mike McCoy was lamenting a “pathetic” first half, Del Rio was elated that the Raiders gave a demonstration on the kind of team they could be.

“I think that’s the longest we had sustained really good football as a team in all three phases,” Del Rio said. “I’m really happy for our guys, excited about that. It’s natural to ask, ‘What about the fourth quarter?’ The fourth quarter is not what we’re looking for, but that’s not going to be the focus.”

Playing at a road venue in front of what sounded like a home crowd, the Raiders put wasted no time in putting their imprint on the game within the first 2:14.

First, Oakland’s Jamize Olawale dropped Chargers returner Jacoby Jones at the 11-yard line on the opening kickoff.

On third-and-2, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw toward wide receiver Stevie Johnson, with defensive back TJ Carrie driving on the ball and Malcolm Smith catching the resulting deflection. Smith returned it 27 yards to the 2-yard line.

Two plays later, running back Latavius Murray bulled into the end zone and the Raiders had a 7-0 lead, with each phase playing a role.

Little did the Chargers know it, but the rout was on. The Raiders had three touchdowns and three field goals in six first-half possessions. Their 30-6 lead was their biggest since 2010, when they held a 38-7 halftime edge in Denver en route to a 59-14 win.

Oakland quarterback Derek Carr completed 24 of 31 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns.

Raiders safety Charles Woodson, not prone to flowery overstatement, conceded, “For the first three quarters, that’s as well as we could have played.”

The Raiders’ often-criticized secondary came through in a big way, with Rivers compiling most of his 336 yards passing once the issue was already decided. Cornerback DJ Hayden had an interception, which set up one of three field goals by Sebastian Janikowski.

REPORT CARD VS. CHARGERS

–PASSING OFFENSE: A-minus — Derek Carr was 24 of 31 for 289 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions and took just one 7-yard sack. The Raiders averaged a whopping 8.8 yards per pass attempt. Amari Cooper turned a quick screen into a 52-yard touchdown pass, and he added a 44-yard gain deep in San Diego territory. Michael Crabtree had six receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown, and Clive Walford had a 25-yard scoring play.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: B — Latavius Murray looked rejuvenated following the bye week with 85 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown rush of 1 yard. Taiwan Jones had his most extensive action as a ball carrier with 35 yards on three carries, including a short first down rush on a toss sweep. In all, the Raiders averaged 5.0 yards per rush with 130 yards on the ground and had eight rushing first downs. The only struggles came late as they were attempting to work the clock in the four-minute drill.

–PASS DEFENSE: B — For three quarters, it was about as good as it gets as the Raiders built a 37-6 lead. Malcolm Smith had a sack and an interception, with the interception and return setting up a 2-yard touchdown drive to get the Raiders off and rolling. Cornerback DJ Hayden picked off Philip Rivers and had 10 tackles as San Diego got little or nothing out of their short passing game for much of the day. Rivers’ numbers (38 of 58, 336 yards, 3 TDs) were built late after the game was already decided.

–RUN DEFENSE: B — The Chargers had 90 yards on 21 carries, but 26 of those yards (a 15-yard run by Branden Oliver, an 11-yard run by Melvin Gordon) came on two rushes. The rest of the day, the Chargers averaged 3.4 yards per attempt, which is more in line with how the Raiders hope to play run defense.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus — The Raiders got the game started right when Jacoby Jones decided to return the opening kickoff deep out of his own end zone and was dropped at the 11-yard line by Jamize Olawale. Backed up deep, that opening possession resulted in an interception and return and short touchdown drive. PK Sebastian Janikowski converted field-goal attempts of 29, 32 and 31 yards in addition to four extra points. TJ Carrie averaged a respectable 10 yards per punt return, and Taiwan Jones gained 32 on his only kickoff return.

–COACHING: B-plus — The end was mildly disturbing, although the game never appeared to be in doubt as the Raiders played their best football of the season through three quarters. They were dominant in all three phases until the Chargers got loose late and put some cosmetic points on the board. During the bye week, coach Jack Del Rio and his staff found a way to get the running game back on track and freshened up the team, and they were rewarded with convincing wins on both sides of the line of scrimmage.


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