Highs and lows

A season sweep highlighted by a San Diego Chargers win in Oakland. A nice way to welcome football back into their lives after the bye week. The road ahead continues to be fit with peril and the preparation begins on Wednesday.

Chargers Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: B- -- Drew Brees continued his hot play, although he was fortunate that the Raiders dropped three potential interceptions. But he managed the game well, and threw for 226 yards and a touchdown. The pass blocking was fine, as the Raiders didn't sack Brees once and seldom even supplied pressure. Antonio Gates keeps getting open, and Keenan McCardell had some clutch catches near the end.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- C Nick Hardwick had a great game run-blocking, the same goes for LG Toniu Fonoti. They, along with the rest of the line, made life easier for a friskier LaDainian Tomlinson. His sore groin didn't bother him much after having a bye week to rest it. He finished with season highs in rushes (37) and rushing yards (164). Tomlinson doesn't need much room to wiggle free, and he got it from the play up front.

PASS DEFENSE: C- -- There still work to be done here. Sammy Davis got beat for a game-winning touchdown, but Ronald Curry dropped the ball. There was also too much cushion on many routes, which allowed Kerry Collins to throw for 227 yards and two touchdowns. The pass rush wasn't good enough to help the guys on the back end. Just one sack, from Ben Leber, and that was when he came free on a pass protection mix up.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- While the pass defense is still a work in progress, the run defense continues to be among the NFL's best. The Raiders could manage 53 yards on the ground, although they all but ditched the running game when falling behind 13-0. LB Donnie Edwards had a team-high eight tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- Any time you get an extra point blocked, a bad grade goes here. Plus, Nate Kaeding missed from 42 yards, although to be fair is was quite windy in Oakland. The punting was OK, with Mike Scifres pinned three efforts inside the 20. Not much here on the return game; the coverages were OK.

COACHING: B -- The players didn't look sharp, as the post-bye week blues were evident here with nine penalties -- just two off the season high. Still scratching our heads on having first-and-goal late in the game and Tomlinson touching the ball but once. But the Chargers hung tough, which was enough to beat a Raiders team which is circling the drain.

Raiders Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- When Kerry Collins finally had a no-turnover, high production game his receivers let him down. Ron Curry's dropped pass would have been a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Jerry Porter failed to get both feet down on two deep end zone touchdown passes. He fumbled trying to make extra yardage in the first half. It is conceivable Collins could have had up to five touchdown passes. As it was, his QB rating was 105.8.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus -- It has now been six games since Oakland last topped 100 yards rushing in a game. During that time the Raiders averaged 52 yards at 2.9 yards a try. Over the last two weeks their best rushing play netted exactly 10 yards. The only way they make yards at all is when hard-nosed Tyrone Wheatley grinds out an extra few through sheer will power.

PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- The Raiders have not intercepted a pass in five weeks, not even by accident. They dropped three chances Sunday. Granted, they improved from last time they faced Drew Brees, giving up one touchdown pass instead of five -- and the one came on a pushoff. However, there were seven third down passes that resulted in 111 yards and first downs. Two more first downs came off defensive holding penalties. The pass rush was lukewarm most of the day (no sacks) and even when it got there, Brees somehow eked out a completion when logic said he should have thrown an interception ... if somebody could catch one.

RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus -- On one play, the Raiders look invincible against the run. On the next they can't tackle. LaDainian Tomlinson got to 164 yards off 37 carries in a hit-or-miss manner. He was stopped at or behind the line six times but he also had carries of eight or more yards eight times. Stat to ponder: when the Raiders hold opponents under 100 yards they are 3-1. When they don't, they are 0-6.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Nothing great, nothing horrible except for kickoff returns which averaged 14 yards. Langston Walker blocked a PAT.

COACHING: C -- Norv Turner's decision to punt with four minutes to go in hopes of getting the ball back for a final run was a very by-the-book call and wasn't necessarily wrong. However, having faith in his defense, while watching it struggle, was one heck of a gamble and it did not pay off. The Raiders aren't just the picture of conservative, they are just plain vanilla.

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