The Oakland Raiders had a couple of tough losses heading into their bye last week, but they made sure to close the door on that possibility as they took on the Chargers in San Diego on Sunday.
Head coach Jack Del Rio sent his defense out on the field first, and they stood up to the test. On just the third play of the game, cornerback TJ Carrie tipped a pass up into the air and linebacker Malcolm Smith hauled in the interception and returned it back to the Chargers two-yard line. Running back Latavius Murray would punch it in for the early Raiders 7-0 lead.
Ken Norton, Jr.’s defense continued right where they left off on the next drive, forcing a three and out to give the ball right back to second-year quarterback Derek Carr and the offense with good starting position. Unfortunately, the Raiders would not capitalize and be forced to settle for a field goal to extend the lead to 10-0.
But offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave would keep his foot on the pedal. In fact, the Raiders scored on their first seven drives of their day, with the first punt not happening until the third quarter.
Musgrave said during the bye week that he wanted to get his rookie tight end Clive Walford more involved and that’s exactly where he went for the team’s second touchdown. Walford streaked out right and beat the defender to get open in the end zone where Carr found him with a perfect pass.
The defense didn’t take a break neither, as cornerback DJ Hayden kept tight coverage on wide receiver Keenan Allen, coming away with the interception for another short field for the Raiders to set up another Sebastian Janikowski field goal.
The Raiders could have scored more but offensive lineman Donald Penn had an unnecessary roughness penalty at the one-yard line that pushed them back.
Nonetheless, the Raiders regained their rhythm on the next drive as Carr found his rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper on a screen play who used some nifty moves to break free for the 52-yard touchdown. Center Rodney Hudson had a great block on the play to break Cooper free. The score put the Raiders up 30-3 heading into halftime.
After receiving the ball to start the second half, Musgrave kept his streak of great play-calling going with another beautiful eight-play drive resulting in a touchdown. The drive was capped off with a 25-yard screen pass to veteran receiver Michael Crabtree, putting them up 37-6.
The Raiders defense had a streak of 27 straight drives without allowing a touchdown by an opposing offense, but that streak would be snapped in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Phillip Rivers found his big tight end Ladarius Green for a 31-yard touchdown, to bring the score to 37-13.
The Raiders would go into “run-the-clock-out” mode, forcing punter Marquette King to possibly break a sweat.
Rivers and the Chargers offense would get another late touchdown, to go along with a two-point conversion to bring it to just a two-score game at 37-21 with 6:00 remaining on the game clock. They’d score another one in the final seconds to bring it to the final score of 37-29, making the final score look closer than the game ever really was.