The Oakland Raiders played their best game of the season Sunday facing longtime division rival San Diego Chargers, but in the end the results were painfully familiar as the Chargers prevailed with a 31 - 28 victory to spoil the debut of Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano.
Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr threw for a season best 282 yards with 4 touchdowns and zero sacks, including a 77 yard scoring pass to Andre Holmes during the game’s first minute. Holmes would prove to be a valuable target for Carr throughout the game, finishing with 121 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. Darren McFadden gave a major contribution, leading the Raiders ground game with 80 rushing yards.
A balanced Raiders offensive attack gave Oakland its first second-half lead, 21-14, since last Thanksgiving Day’s game versus the Dallas Cowboys. However the unrelenting Chargers kept pace behind quarterback Phillip Rivers, who threw for 313 yards with 3 touchdowns, and rookie running back Branden Oliver who turned in his second consecutive game of 100 plus yards on the ground. The Chargers eventually took the lead for good on a 1 yard touchdown run by Oliver with 1:56 left in the game.
The Raiders effort to come back was ended when San Diego’s rookie cornerback Jason Verrett intercepted his first pass of the season on Derek Carr’s deep attempt to wide receiver Brice Butler with 1:13 left in the game and Oakland needing only 1 yard for a first down.
Although the game ended with yet another loss for the Raiders and dropped them to 0-5, the team’s effort on the field was notably more improved than in their first four games. Yet, as Coach Sparano mentioned in his post game press conference there are no moral victories.
The quest for the first win of the season for the Oakland Raiders continues this Sunday when they face the NFC west leading Arizona Cardinals.
Greg Bridges 10/12/14
photos by G1Rhythm for Reflections In Rhythm