What Worked, What Didn't, What's Next

It wasn't easy in Oakland -- it never is -- but the Chargers made big plays in the fourth quarter on both sides of the ball to eke out a 31-28 victory. We examine everything that went down at O.co Coliseum in our weekly look at what worked, what didn't and what's next for the streaking Chargers.

What Worked

--The Chargers have a chance to win every time No. 17 lines up under center. He continued his terrific play against the Raiders, completing 22-of-34 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns. Rivers posted a passer rating of 123.8, setting an NFL record with his fifth consecutive game above 120. He spread the ball around, too, as five different players caught at least three passes, with the touchdowns going to Eddie Royal, Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates.

"What is says is we've had a great five-game stretch," Rivers said of his statistical accomplishment. "It doesn't say any more than that. I think it speaks to the guys catching the football, the guys protecting and the whole group. If the quarterback has a passer rating that high, it means everybody is doing something really well."

--Rivers is far from the only offensive player deserving praise. Rookie Branden Oliver ran for over 100 yards for the second consecutive week and scored the go-ahead touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. Malcom Floyd also topped the century mark, setting season-highs in receptions (four) and yards (103) while also hauling in his third score of the season. A game ball should also go to Rich Ohrnberger, who battled back from a back injury to make sure the Chargers did not have to plug a rookie into the hub position.

Said Oliver after his second straight superb performance: "I'm the type of guy that I feel like I keep getting stronger as the game goes."

--Not nearly as much went right on the defensive side of the ball. The Raiders piled up 396 total yards and 17 first downs. Oakland was efficient on third down, converting 8-of-13 opportunities, and averaged an impressive 7.3 yards per play. But on the final two drives, when the game was on the line, San Diego's defense was lights out.

On the second-to-last drive, the Raiders moved backward 11 yards as San Diego forced a timely three-and-out. Then, on the final drive, first-round pick Jason Verrett recorded his first career interception to seal the win for the visitors.

"They needed a play to win," said Verrett when asked whether he was surprised the Raiders tested him deep. "I'm glad they chose me so I could make the play I made."

What Didn't

--To begin with the game's most glaring blunder, that fake punt attempt was awful for a number of reasons. First of all, fourth-and-35 is hardly an ideal time for a fake punt. Secondly, Eric Weddle's throw was terrible, sailing out of bounds and giving Seyi Ajirotutu no chance to make a play on the ball. Thirdly, the misfire gave Oakland a short field to work with; three plays later, Derek Carr hit Brice Butler for a 47-yard touchdown that gave the Raiders a 21-14 lead.

Weddle called the fake punt himself and Head Coach Mike McCoy was visibly upset on the sidelines afterwards, although the victory helped McCoy calm down afterwards.

"It all starts with me as the head coach and it didn't work," he said.

--The defense generated little to no pressure on Carr for most of the game. Carr was never hit, let alone sacked. He got more and more comfortable as the game went on, nearly guiding the Raiders to the upset. San Diego was without Cordarro Law (ankle) -- and Melvin Ingram is still on the short-term IR with a hip injury -- but John Pagano needs his guys to win more of their one-on-one matchups.

There were some nice plays late -- Jerry Attaochu had a sack and forced fumble that were negated by a face-mask penalty and Weddle delivered a timely blitz that forced an intentional grounding penalty -- but the Chargers need more of those plays and they need them earlier in the game.

--The offensive line lost the battle in the trenches for the first three-and-a-half quarters. The linemen get a bit of a break, as that unit has been in flux and Ohrnberger (back) and D.J. Fluker (ankle) are battling injuries, but that kind of performance will not get it done next week against Kansas City.

Speaking of Kansas City ...

What's Next

The Chargers return home to face the 2-3 Chiefs. The game is a major opportunity for San Diego. With a victory the Chargers would: 1) improve to 6-1 overall and 2-0 inside the division; 2) essentially bury the Chiefs, who would need a miracle to make the playoffs after a 2-4 start; and 3) set up a massive divisional showdown the following Thursday in Denver with first place in the division likely up for grabs.

The Chargers swept the Chiefs last season, including an overtime win against Kansas City's backups in the regular season finale that put San Diego into the playoffs.



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Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com team. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 18 years and covered the team since '03. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.


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