Raiders fall to Chargers

Ronald Curry had a dream scenario but not the outcome he desired in the Oakland Raiders 23-17 loss to the San Diego Chargers Sunday in Oakland.

The Oakland Raiders had the ball at their own 38-yard line and were poised for a game-winning drive. Quarterback Kerry Collins launched a pass down the middle of the field with Curry having beaten his defender. Curry, however, dropped the ball. The Raiders had to punt three plays later and the San Diego Chargers ran out the clock.

"I feel bad for Ron," Collins said. "He's a heck of a football player. He's a big part of what we do. There are a lot of plays we could have made. It just so happens that was late in the game."

Collins certainly has a point because, in fairness to Curry, the Raiders (3-7) getting off to such a poor start doomed them coupled with the defense's inability to offer much resistance against the San Diego (7-3) offense. LaDainian Tomlinson carried 37 times for 164 yards and one touchdown.

Tight end Antonio Gates caught eight passes for 101 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Drew Brees completed 18-of-34 passes for 225 yards, running for one touchdown and throwing for another. Tomlinson's 6-yard touchdown run gave the Chargers a 23-14 lead with 11:12 left in the contest.

The Chargers bolted to a 13-0 lead as Brees scored on a 6-yard keeper before Oakland slashed the deficit to 13-7 on Collins' 22-yard touchdown pass to Curry at the 6:40 clip of the second quarter.

The Raiders defense, despite its difficulties throughout the day, kept San Diego out of the end zone from the 1 late in the third quarter -- a stand highlighted by defensive end Tyler Brayton's deflection of a pass headed for a wide-open Gates in the back of the end zone. San Diego's Nate Kaeding booted a 19-yard field goal.

Oakland sliced the lead to 16-14 when Collins hit Teyo Johnson for an 8-yard touchdown pass late in the third period. Johnson was inactive for the first eight weeks but his playing time has increased with the recent injury of fellow tight end Courtney Anderson. Johnson started five games last season as a rookie.

"I think you could have put (Raiders center) Adam Treu, nothing against Adam, or anybody out there to run that flat route and they would have walked into the end zone," Johnson said. "I didn't have to avoid anybody. I didn't it was a play that showed my athleticism. Coach gave me the opportunity to play and I capitalized."

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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