Chargers get defensive, finally

The San Diego Chargers defense finally showed up in Sunday's 21-14 win over the Oakland Raiders. Sure they played a battered offensive line. Sure they faced third and fourth string quarterbacks, but this is the NFL and those players can still make plays. On Sunday, the Chargers defense was the team making plays. They held the Raiders to just 35 passing yards.

The Chargers defense took advantage of the situation they were in. They sacked the quarterback five times and put countless other pressures on the quarterback. The forced two fumbles, although neither was recovered and was in position to make plays.

The Raiders defense had the same chance to dominate the Chargers offense and they could not cash in.

"Took us 16 games," Marty Schottenheimer said. "We finally got a shutout. Defensively, without a doubt, that was the finest performance we have had on the year."

His reference to a shutout is in regards to the defense. The same defense that had allowed 36 touchdown passes against to enter the game, held the Raiders off the scoreboard. The only points the Raiders scored was in the return game.

Oakland entered San Diego territory twice all day. Once they got down to the SD 29 and on forth and two they went for it rather than kick the 47 yard field goal. They turned the ball over on downs. The only other time they entered San Diego's side of the field was in the fourth quarter when they got to the 46. They ended up punting.

"I told the defense on the sidelines, ‘this series you are going to go out, get a turnover, and you are going to score,'" said Schottenheimer. "It didn't happen that way, but three or four series later we got the takeaway and we haven't had nearly as many of those as we would have liked."

The defense was suffocating. They allowed just 141 net yards and kept the Raiders third down conversion rate to just 19%. The Raiders cumulative completion percentage was limited to just 27%.

The team did allow 4.4 average yards per carry on 31 carries, but limiting the Raiders to just three third down conversions pinned them into punting. Eight Raider drives failed to net 10 yards and ten failed to net 20 yards. The Raiders only had 12 possessions.

"I think we can enjoy this win because it shows the type of team we have, the type of defense we have," said San Diego rookie cornerback Sammy Davis said. "There's nothing like beating the Raiders at home in our last game of the season."

Now the team will go about adding some speed to the defense at the linebacker position and work on the defensive line. It is amazing what pressure will do for the secondary.

Special Teams gives away a shutout:

Never has the defense played so well. Never has special teams looked so bad on its coverage.

"I have to give the Raiders credit," said Schottenheimer. "They do as good a job as any in their punt returns, because they won't let you off the line of scrimmage.

"We worked on it all week. We emphasized that they are going to hold you and keep you in there, you can't get hung up in there and that is one of the reasons Phillip Buchanon has done such a terrific job in the punt return.

"The kickoff return, we had the ball pinned perfectly in the corner where we wanted it and our people on the left side got caught inside and they took the thing right around the corner on us."

The biggest problem on the kickoff return was an offsides call on Terrence Kiel that forced the Chargers to re-kick. The coverage unit had stopped the Raiders' Doug Gabriel at the 24 yard line on the first kick.

Note:

A sign of things to come? Drayton Florence was lined up at free safety late in the game and seemed at ease when pressed into emergency duty. It could be the position he settles in at so he does not have to cut with wide receivers as much.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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