PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- QB Drew Brees rebounded from a mediocre game in Washington with a solid performance in the win over the Raiders. Brees missed on just five of his 22 passes, throwing for 160 yards and two touchdowns. Five receivers got their mitts on the ball, and two of them, TE Antonio Gates and WR Eric Parker, had touchdowns. The pass protection was fine, and the on the few times Brees did feel some heat, he was able to roll out and throw on the run -- something he does quite well.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Want to know how good the run-blocking was? RB Michael Turner spelled LaDainian Tomlinson, and he averaged 4.9 yards on seven carries. The Chargers finished with 126 rushing yards as Tomlinson got the lion's share of it with 86. FB Lorenzo Neal, as well as the front line, were very physical with a Raiders front that didn't seem to have much fight.
PASS DEFENSE: B -- The secondary continues to make strides, and one of the reasons is the increased pass rush the Chargers are producing. They had three sacks Sunday, giving them 38 on the year, second-best in the NFL. QB Kerry Collins was pestered most the night from various angles and by various players. He was restricted to 236 passing yards and a score despite throwing 40 times. S Clinton Hart, subbing for Terrence Kiel, forced a fumble and had an interception return for a touchdown. Even if Kiel is fit this Sunday, look for Hart to get considerable playing time.
RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Chargers have regained their top ranking in run defense, with the Raiders rushing for 81 yards -- and 24 of those came in one carry from Zach Crockett, in garbage time at the end of the game. Jamal Williams continues to take up two blockers in the middle, which allows the linebackers to snag the tackle -- Donnie Edwards had a team-high eight stops. Randall Godfrey recovered a fumble when Hart dislodged the ball from LaMont Jordan on a run. Good effort and execution here.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Nate Kaeding hit two field goals, but his kickoffs were weak and didn't have much distance. P Mike Scifres got off a career-long 71-yard effort. The coverage teams were fine; Darren Sproles brought a kickoff back 35 yards. The Chargers have a much more sure-handed Eric Parker returning punts instead of Sproles.
COACHING: A -- The Chargers were playing down to the Raiders' level in the first half, letting them stick around in a game the Chargers should have dominated. But San Diego pulled away in the second half, thanks to some minor adjustments in the run defense, but more important, a change of attitude. Marty Schottenheimer's players looked more refreshed in the second half than in the first, as their coach's message got across loud and clear at halftime.
Raiders Report Card:
PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus -- For a half, not bad. Kerry Collins was 13-for-20 for 151 yards and a touchdown before halftime and 9-for-20 for 85 yards and an interception that was returned for a touchdown in the second half. The Raiders obligingly took the short completions offered by the Chargers secondary. The pass blocking was spotty as the game got out of hand, with LaMont Jordan having difficulty in that area.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D-plus -- The Raiders looked decent right up to the point where Jordan was hit by Clinton Hart and fumbled. Jordan had 44 yards on eight carries through that carry, and 11 yards on seven attempts thereafter. Zack Crockett got his first carry in three games -- he gained 24 yards as the clock ran out. The Chargers took control of time of possession in the third quarter and had a big lead in the fourth quarter, rendering the running game useless.
PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- There were some holes, to be sure, but give San Diego quarterback Drew Brees some credit. He made some plays with his feet and arm. He put several key third-down passes in tight areas where coverage wasn't bad.
RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The Chargers worked for every yard they got, needing 38 carries to gain 126 yards. The Raiders kept longtime nemesis LaDainian Tomlinson (25 carries, 86 yards) under control, actually having more trouble with backup Michael Turner (seven carries, 34 yards, one touchdown).
SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- Another tough outing for Shane Lechler, who averaged 37.5 yards per punt and ran with the ball after a strong rush when he could have kicked it. Sebastian Janikowski had no touchbacks. The Chargers' average drive start following kickoffs was the 38-yard line, with Oakland opening at the 30.
COACHING: C-plus -- Oakland matched San Diego in terms of intensity to open the game, ran an effective, efficient offense and loaded up to stop the Chargers running game. But the Raiders didn't adjust defensively as the Chargers took advantage of soft coverage for consistent, short gains. The loss was due more to superior Chargers talent and an injury-wracked Raiders roster than because of a poor game plan.