Raiders can't botch red zone chances

The Raiders blew two red zone scoring chances in the previous meeting, a 27-21 loss in overtime.

 

            If the Oakland Raiders are to gain the early lead and beat the San Diego Chargers in Sunday's matchup at QualComm Stadium, the red zone cannot become "the dead zone."

            In the first meeting between the two teams, the Raiders squandered a potential 10-0 lead and a San Diego won 27-21 in overtime. On the game's opening possession, Oakland drove from its own 24-yard line to the Charger 9 but Sebastian Janikowski missed a 27-yard field goal.

On their next series, the Raiders moved from their own 11 to the San Diego 11 but that drive halted when Rich Gannon's pass intended for Charlie Garner was intercepted by linebacker Donnie Edwards.

Oakland should not have trouble moving the ball Sunday. Defense was supposed to be the Chargers strength. Before Sunday's 30-27 overtime win over Denver, however, San Diego had yielded more yards and points over the previous four games than any other team than hapless Arizona.

The Raiders, however, cannot afford to botch their opportunities this time. Oakland and San Diego are both 8-4 tied atop the AFC West standings. The magnitude of this game alone means the Raiders cannot blow their chances.

"The intensity and importance is overwhelming," Gannon said. "Each situation gets magnified. A turnover in September doesn't seem to hurt as bad as a turnover in December."

Oakland could not ask for a better position regarding its playoff fate because three of its final four games are against division opponents. Sunday's contest, however, is the swing game and would likely be the difference between getting a first-round bye and having to go on the road as a wild card.

 

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

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