The Oakland Raiders returned home to take on the San Diego Chargers on Christmas Eve in a Thursday Night Football matchup looking to send veteran safety Charles Woodson out with a win.
Woodson, the 18-year-old ageless wonder, announced on Tuesday his intentions to retire following the 2015 NFL season.
The Silver & Black also hoped to give the Oakland crowd one last victory at O.Co Coliseum, with the Raiders future in Oakland looming and the deadline coming up quick.
Unfortunately, head coach Jack Del Rio’s offense failed to get anything going as he saw his young quarterback throw another early turnover that led to points.
On the Raiders first drive of the game, second-year quarterback Derek Carr dropped back to throw the ball but had the ball tipped at the line by Chargers defensive end Kendall Reyes, who made a nice diving play to come away with the interception.
Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers would take advantage of the short field position, going the 32 yards in seven plays, with running back Donald Brown punching it in from one-yard out. The score gave the Chargers the early 7-to-0 lead, and marked seven turnovers in a row that led to touchdowns for Raiders opponents.
With the early deficit, Carr and the offense would find some rhythm to answer right back on the ensuing drive. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave got running back Latavius Murray going as he finished with a 22-yard touchdown run, tying the game at 7-to-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Murray kept gaining ground in the second quarter, as the Raiders trailed 14-7. With a three-yard run in the second quarter, Murray became the first Raiders running back since 2010 to have a 1,000-yard season. But unfortunately for the Raiders, the drive stalled and the team was forced to settle for a field goal, bringing the score to 17-to-10 at halftime. The Chargers got back in the end zone using a pick play that beat the Raiders repeatedly.
Both offenses struggled to make any adjustments that made a difference, as there was a total of seven punts in the third quarter and one safety. The Raiders scored the lone points of the quarter when Denico Autry bursted through the right side of the line to sack Rivers in the end zone, making the score 17-12.
Ironically, it was a defensive holding call on Khalil Mack that helped the Raiders win the game. The Chargers lined up for a 53-yard field goal and made the kick, but they accepted the penalty and the automatic first down. They would later have to settle for a 48-yard field goal, which Josh Lambo missed to keep the score at 17-12.
The Raiders offense struggled so badly that they didn’t get a first down in the second half until late in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Malcolm Smith came up big, stripping the ball from the receiver as Benson Mayowa came up with the ball and returned it all the way to the three-yard line. The Raiders first second-half first down came on the next play, as Carr found wide receiver Michael Crabtree on a fade route. Carr hit Seth Roberts on the next play to complete the two-point conversion, putting the Raiders up 20-17 with just over four minutes remaining.
With the Chargers facing a tough 3rd and 10, cornerback DJ Hayden was called for pass interference to extend the Chargers drive. The Raiders defense would eventually hold, but the Chargers would get the field goal they needed to push the game into overtime.
After receiving the opening kickoff, Carr and the Raiders used precision, and some luck to move the ball down the field. Facing 2nd and 29, Carr found Crabtree for an 8-yard gain who was hit hard as the defender was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty, giving the team the automatic first down.
Carr used the added life to orchestrate a 15-play drive, including a big third-down conversion to Roberts where he caught the juggling ball and dragged the defender into the red zone. On the very next play, the Raiders called “The Heisman Pass”, giving the ball to Woodson and giving him the chance to throw the ball into the end zone for the win. Instead, the veteran tucked the ball and lost three yards.
The Raiders would settle for the field goal, leaving the door open for the Chargers. But the Raiders offense would hold again, as Rivers’ pass on 4th and 3 fell incomplete, securing the Raiders win Thursday night.
With the Raiders future in Oakland unknown, the Raiders will head to Kansas City for their final game of the 2015 season looking to finish at .500 at 8-8.