NFL Wire News

3 things we learned about the Chargers


The Sports Xchange

SAN DIEGO — Some day, the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers might be business partners.

On Sunday, however, it was just the Raiders giving the Chargers the business.

Oakland dominated early and held on for a 37-29 win over the San Diego in a Qualcomm Stadium that was evenly divided between the teams’ boosters.

“It felt like a home game,” said Oakland quarterback David Carr, who threw three touchdown passes. “Give credit to our fans.”

The Raiders (3-3) and Chargers (2-5) are in talks to share a stadium in the Los Angeles area. Before the move, though came a one-sided Oakland win.

“Not much to say after a game like this,” San Diego coach Mike McCoy said. “Nothing good happened after the first play.”

While McCoy called his team’s play “pathetic” during a third consecutive loss, the second-place Raiders gave notice: They are no longer a pushover.

“It’s great to come in here and get a road win within the division,” Oakland coach Jack Del Rio said. “I thought really the first three quarters of the game were very strong efforts in all three phases. That’s the longest we have sustained really good football.”

Oakland handed San Diego its fifth AFC West loss in seven games.

“Coach Del Rio stresses just do your job,” Carr said. “Don’t do anything outside yourself, and I though that’s what we did, and it’s reassuring.”

The Raiders were keen from the get-go, racing to a 30-6 halftime lead as they dominated all three phases of the game.

They scored on their first seven drives and kept the Chargers from the end zone until the fourth quarter.

“It was sickening how fast it happened,” San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers said.

The Chargers lost their previous two games in the final seconds. That wasn’t the case Sunday, as they were pushed around by Oakland before outscoring the Raiders 23-0 in the fourth quarter.

What we learned about the Chargers:

1. Quarterback Philip Rivers can’t do it by himself. Well, for the most part. For the second consecutive week, Rivers was the only reliable option on offense. He almost pulled a win last week when throwing for a franchise-record 503 yards, but he had two picks Sunday and that led to 10 Oakland points — and the Chargers lost by eight. This isn’t a shot at Rivers, though. Instead, it illustrates just how one-dimensional the Chargers are. Rivers is a stud, but he needs some help. Consider the Raiders had more penalty yards (136) than the Chargers did rushing yards (90).

2. Running back Melvin Gordon was on the bench thanks to his four fumbles this season. Gordon, the team’s first-round pick, also sprained an ankle in last week’s loss in Green Bay, but it was his fumbles that have him playing second fiddle to Branden Oliver. Gordon did see action in garbage time, when the Chargers started the second half down 30-6. He finished with 29 yards on seven carries. It will be interesting to see if Gordon regains his starting job after being benched in the first half Sunday.

3. Eric Weddle (groin) was missed, and that came as a surprise to some. Weddle, who was out with a groin injury, takes a lot of heat despite being an All-Pro free safety. He whiffed on his share of tackles this year and is a lightning rod for criticism. Some of that is because he declined to participate in the offseason workouts as the Chargers neglected to offer him a contract extension. However, the secondary was a mess Sunday without Weddle directing traffic and getting guys in the right places. The Chargers allowed nearly 300 passing yards and three touchdowns. Not that it definitely would have been different with Weddle in the lineup, but his absence might have contributed to the Raiders’ big day.


–RB Branden Oliver got a look Sunday, and it was a long time coming. Oliver fell down the depth chart when the Chargers moved up in the draft to get RB Melvin Gordon. Despite Oliver leading the Chargers in rushing last year — and with RB Danny Woodhead returning from a broken leg — Oliver’s touches were few early this season. However, with Gordon benched because of ball-security issues, Oliver got his first start of the season Sunday. He got only nine carries, good for 35 yards, as the Chargers had to abandon the running game when falling behind 30-6 at halftime. Even so, Oliver ran hard, and he deserves more looks going forward.

–LG Orlando Franklin, who missed three starts with an ankle injury, left the Oakland game in the fourth quarter with a suspected leg injury. Franklin, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason, could be out for an extended period of time.

–TE Antonio Gates (knee) was unable to go Sunday after being hurt in the previous game in Green Bay. He could be available for the next game in Baltimore. Gates, 35, nearly played against the Raiders but decided late he couldn’t contribute.

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