Raiders pull the rug out from under the Super Chargers

Nov 28, 2010; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders safety Tyvon Branch (33) reacts during the game against the Miami Dolphins at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Dolphins defeated the Raiders 33-17. Photo via Newscom

The Oakland Raiders were against all odds today in San Diego. The Chargers came in as 12-point favorites to win. San Diego was on a four-game winning streak, Phillip Rivers was 18-0 as a starter in December, and the Raiders have lost two straight games and were looking completely flat as a team. But today, they proved that there is no quit in the team this year as they absolutely dominated the Chargers in all three phases of the game.

The number one ranked Chargers’ offense only had six points until just over ten minutes left in the game. That was when Phillip Rivers found Antonio Gates in the back corner of the end zone on what would be their last score of the game. The Raiders defense absolutely smothered Phillip Rivers and wound up with four sacks and an interception of Rivers alongside at least 11 QB hurries and nine knockdowns. The goal coming in was to disrupt the Chargers QB and that is exactly what they did today.

On offense for the Raiders, Jason Campbell shined with his 10-16 for 117 yards and one touchdown. Whilst Phillip Rivers out-passed Campbell by 163 yards, Campbell made the throws he needed to make all day long and added seven carries for 37 yards and a touchdown on the ground on including a beautiful fake to Michael Bush where Campbell bootlegged out untouched and jogged into the end zone. Campbell finished with a QB rating over 105 today and he improved to 5-1 as the Raiders’ starter this year.

“To me, that’s what [Jason Campbell] is, manage it, stay in the game, and don’t get too whacked out,” said Raiders’ head coach Tom Cable. “Today there was a confidence about him…I felt like it was there since about three days ago. He went out there as our starter and did a hell of a job.”

“It wasn’t any trickery, we lined up and ran the tailback in there and the fullback did a good job. Also you have to take your hat off to Jason Campbell. He made some good throws today when we needed him to.”

Between the two tailbacks, Michael Bush and Darren McFadden added a combined 42 carries for 197 yards and two touchdowns to Jason Campbell’s stats. McFadden added three catches for 30 yards and fullback Marcel Reece had three catches for 42 yards and was the leading receiver. Ultimately a great game by the Oakland Raiders’ backfield which kept the offense on the field for 38:38 of the game clock

It was the offensive effort that kept the defense well rested in what has to be their best performance of the year allowing an offense that was averaging 33 points in their last four contests to just 13 points in their own stadium.

“Our secondary was aggressive on almost every snap,” Cable said with regards to the play of the defense. “We were able to get good pressure with just four guys. And our linebackers did an excellent job today.”

They effectively shut down the Chargers offense, who converted just 3-for-10 on third downs today. The Chargers rushing game with Mike Tolbert was essentially useless to them as they got down big early and abandoned the run. Tolbert only had seven carries for 16 yards and rookie Ryan Matthews didn’t even get on the field despite being active and having Darren Sproles go out of the game with a concussion after a vicious but clean hit by rookie middle linebacker Rolando McClain.

It was a muffed punt early on by Sproles that initially gave the Raiders momentum by giving them the ball at the San Diego 18-yard line. A few plays later the Raiders’ scored a touchdown and they just snow-balled the Chargers from there. The next possession Phillip Rivers would throw an interception to free safety Michael Huff who would then return that to the Chargers’ 40-yard line. Once again, the Raiders would pound their run game and eventually get the early lead 14-0. The Raider held the ball for over ten minutes of clock time in the first quarter alone.

Tom Cable said that overall, “Tremendous football game by the Raiders, getting back to playing our game and doing what we do best; really proud of our team and our coaches who did a great job of pulling together today.”

Next week, the Raiders will travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars and former teammate Kirk Morrison. Both teams will be vying for the playoffs and it should be a good game to watch as long as the Raiders stay focused and play ball like they did today. Once again, the Raiders’ sweep the Chargers for the first time since 2001 and they get their sixth win in a regular season for the first time since 2002. Oh, and did I mention that Jason Campbell is 5-1 as the Raiders’ starter?

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