SD-OAK: What Worked, What Didn't, What's Next

It was anything but pretty, but the Chargers snapped their three-game losing streak with a 13-6 win over the Raiders, moving within a game of the division lead. We break it all down in our weekly examination of what worked, what didn't and what's next. (Photo by Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)

What Worked

--The returns of Melvin Ingram, Manti Te'o and Jerry Attaochu made an enormous impact on defense. Facing the same Raiders team that scored four touchdowns against the Chargers five weeks prior, San Diego kept Oakland out of the end zone in the rematch.

Ingram finished with four tackles, including a big stuff on third-and-1. Te'o played mostly in the nickel defense -- next to Andrew Gachkar -- and recorded a pair of tackles. Attaochu notched his first sack since the season opener, dropping Derek Carr on Oakland's final drive to help secure the win for the home team.

"It's great to get them all back," Mike McCoy said.

The Raiders only crossed the 50-yard line twice and were forced to settle for field goals on both occasions. San Diego's best work came on third down, where the Raiders converted just three of 15 opportunities (20 percent).

--San Diego's other noteworthy return, that of running back Ryan Mathews, sparked the running game. Mathews ran for 70 yards on just 16 carries (4.4 ypc), spearheading a running attack that saw the Chargers pile up 120 yards on the ground. It was San Diego's first time topping the century mark on the ground since its previous meeting with Oakland.

Mathews biggest run came on San Diego's second drive of the third quarter, a 20-yard burst up the middle that set up Nick Novak's second field goal of the game (52 yards).

"He ran the ball hard and I [thought] it's going to take him a couple plays to get rolling, but that was expected," McCoy said.

--San Diego won the third phase, too, thanks to a masterful performance from Mike Scifres. He pinned the Raiders inside their own 20-yard line with five of his nine punts; three of those kicks forced Oakland to start inside its own 6-yard line.

Scifres was quick to give credit to gunners Seyi Ajirotutu and Darrell Stuckey, two of the best in the business, but everyone else was pointing back at No. 5.

Even Oakland's head coach credited Scifres with tilting the game San Diego's way.

"He was huge," said Sparano of Scifres. "At one point during the game, I honestly turned around and said, 'This guy is legitimately swinging the game single handedly.' The way he was kicking the ball, it was huge. The ball is knocking down inside the 5-yard line and you're starting drives down there when your yards aren't coming easily."

What Didn't

--The Chargers have too many playmakers on offense to struggle this much moving the ball. After scoring a touchdown on the third play from scrimmage -- thanks to an Oakland fumble -- the Chargers failed to find the end zone again. The team has now scored just one touchdown over the last eight quarters.

Rivers averaged 5.68 yards per attempt, more than 2 yards below his season average. The only receiver to have a big day was Keenan Allen (eight catches, 63 yards), although his day is remembered more for getting into a shouting match with Rivers on the sideline.

"We weren't as sharp in the passing game as we'd like to be, but [Oakland] is a good football team," McCoy said. “There were some things they did, they had some outstanding coverage on things, and we have to do better.”

--Injuries, which have been the story of the season for San Diego, played a role again. Even the backups cannot stay healthy.

Rich Ohrnberger, already filling in for the injured Nick Hardwick, injured his ankle during the game. That injury, along with Ohrnberger's lingering back pain, is cause for concern going forward.

Ryan Carrethers, who started at nose tackle in place of Sean Lissemore (quad), was forced out of the game with a dislocated elbow. He should be available next week, but he will be forced to play with a brace.

Then there is Rivers, who took shots to his leg and ribs. He was in obvious pain late in the game, to the point where Kellen Clemens was forced to warm up. There is no question Rivers will start next week against the Rams, but there is concern about his injuries affecting his performance.

“I just got rolled up on the one [hit] and just lost my wind on the other. I'll be fine,” Rivers said.

--Nick Novak missed a 48-yard field goal right before halftime, leaving the Chargers empty-handed after one of their better offensive drives of the day. Rivers marched the Chargers 40 yards in seven plays to set up the field goal attempt, hitting six of seven passes on the hurried drive.

Novak's miss ended a streak of 32 consecutive conversions for the most accurate kicker in franchise history. He redeemed himself by nailing a 52-yarder in the third quarter, but any time a team leaves points on the board -- especially in a tight game -- it's disappointing.

It was the second straight game the Chargers saw a major scoring streak snapped. In Week 9 against the Dolphins, Rivers saw his streak of 28 straight games throwing at least one touchdown pass come to an end.

What's Next?

The Chargers host the Rams, who have suddenly emerged as the giant killers of the NFL. Over the last five weeks, St. Louis has picked up wins over the Seahawks, 49ers and Broncos.

The catch is that the Rams (4-6) are not as dangerous on the road as at home; St. Louis has just two road wins this season, one over the 49ers in their second meeting of the season and the other over the Buccaneers (2-8).

This game is no gimme, as evidenced by the quality wins the Rams have accrued over the last month or so, but it is one the Chargers have to win. It is vital San Diego wins at home and improves to 7-4 heading into a brutal closing stretch of the schedule: at Ravens, vs. Patriots, vs. Broncos, at 49ers and at Chiefs.

Rivers is money in the month of December (30-6 in his career), but even he could use a little margin for error given that daunting docket.

Can the Chargers start a new winning streak? Discuss inside of the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the 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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