NFL Wire News

3 things we learned about the Raiders


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 Raiders:

1. Wide receiver Amari Cooper is a stud, but those watching the Southeastern Conference the past couple of years knew that. Cooper, a first-round pick out of Alabama this year, was matched up against Jason Verrett on Sunday, and the Chargers cornerback is billed as a shut-down corner. Even so, Verrett, a first-round pick last year, had no more luck sticking with Cooper than the rest of the NFL. Cooper had five catches for 133 yards and a touchdown. His score came on a 52-yard strike in which Cooper picked up most of the yardage himself, showing off his open-field running while leaving countless Chargers in his wake.

2. Derek Carr is growing into the job. At times last year, the quarterback looked every bit the rookie that he was, and he remains far from a finished product. Still, his production was spot on as he completed 24 of 31 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns — without a turnover. Even more impressive than his gaudy 137.7 passer rating were the up-tempo way he ran the offense and the calm presence he had over the entire unit. Carr just might drive the Raiders to the playoffs in what looks like a watered-down AFC West.

3. Jack Del Rio is part of the John Fox coaching tree, although maybe that is a stretch. Del Rio was a head coach in Jacksonville, so this isn’t his first rodeo. Sunday’s game was a matchup of two coaches who worked under Fox at Denver — Del Rio as the defensive coordinator and Mike McCoy as offensive coordinator. Del Rio has the Raiders playing with a belief that isn’t false. The Raiders always had a swagger, but in recent years, it seemed contrived. No longer, as the team possesses weapons on both sides of the ball and a coach with experience. There is still much work to do — for example, Oakland had 14 penalties for 136 yards. However, the Raiders look as if they are heading up, while McCoy’s Chargers are headed the opposite direction.


–OLB Neiron Ball sustained a knee injury and exited from the game. He plays a backup roll to Malcom Smith but has been productive in short spurts. Ball finished with two tackles, giving him eight tackles and one sack on the year.

–WR Michael Crabtree is taking a backseat to hot-shot rookie WR Amari Cooper, but don’t discount what Crabtree brings to the team, not only with his production but also by making sure defenses can’t double-team Cooper. Crabtree had another solid game, catching a team-high six passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. His longest reception, 25 yards, was good for a score.

–RB Latavius Murray ran hard, and that is a good sign for the Raiders. Murray rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries after two unproductive games. Murray gives the Raiders the balance they seek, with WRs Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree supplying the firepower through the air. Murray already has a career-high 97 carries, and he is just 4 yards shy of his career high of 424 yards.

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