The San Diego Chargers were outplayed in a 27-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders late Sunday night in Oakland, as it was hard to watch Philip Rivers revert back to his old ways after the hot start he had to this season.
The Chargers were held scoreless in the first half while San Diego's defense allowed Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders' offense—sans Darren McFadden—to score 17 points in the first half and another 10 in the second. Pryor finished with 221 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns while the Raiders defense and special teams recovered five turnovers, including one for a score.
It was not a pretty night for the Chargers on either side of the ball, but there were game takeaways off the field as well.
We knew that Terrelle Pryor could run and create plays, but his passing ability in the pocket was something a lot of people didn't see coming.
Pryor was 18-of-23 against San Diego and perfect early in the first half after connecting with Rod Streater and Denarius Moore on touchdown throws. As a result of the Chargers' soft coverage, Moore and Streater averaged more than 15 yards a catch with long receptions of 44 and 35 yards, respectively.
Chargers cornerback Shareece Wright, who has missed time this season with a hamstring injury, was active for the game, but Richard Marshall and Johnny Patrick played in his place. Playing without their starting cornerback, the Chargers have been demolished by opposing quarterbacks, and a lackluster pass rush hasn't helped things.
San Diego running back Ryan Mathews suffered a concussion in the first half Sunday night and did not return to the game for the Chargers. He finished with three carries for eight yards with his status for next week's game yet to be determined.
It's tough to tell if Mathews would have made a difference considering how poorly San Diego's run game did against the Raiders, but the fourth-year back hasn't really done enough to garner more playing time anyways.
San Diego head coach Mike McCoy has somewhat steered clear of making Mathews the bellcow back that the Chargers had originally hoped for this season. McCoy has instead included more of Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown on offense, making it clear that he no longer sees Mathews as an every-down back.
What this means for Mathews' future in San Diego isn't clear, but things don't look good.
San Diego's offensive line gave up two sacks with two starters out against the Raiders and there was no run game to be found. The Raiders defensive line overmatched the offensive line in the trenches and forced Rivers to beat them singlehandedly.
With the Chargers rushing game producing just 32 yards, Rivers attempted 49 passes and was intercepted three times. Rivers did make some poor decisions, but his offensive line gave him no help in establishing a balanced offense.
San Diego's loss to Oakland stung without a doubt, but one positive aspect to pull from the Chargers' latest defeat was the breakout performances of Keenan Allen and Vincent Brown, who both went over 100 yards receiving.
Both were targeted nine times and combined for 14 catches and a touchdown. Allen, San Diego's third-round draft pick this year, had a statement game in his return to the area where he played his college ball and proved that he was a draft steal with 115 yards receiving on the night. Meanwhile, Brown continues to improve early in his career after coming back from injury last season.
The Chargers have to be happy with the way their young receivers played. This offense wasn't supposed be very effective in moving the ball through the air, given their inexperienced receivers, but that hasn't been the case.
Jarret Johnson had two of the Chargers' four sacks in Oakland and recorded three tackles, but the veteran linebacker left the game late in the fourth quarter with an apparent hamstring injury, His status for next week hasn't been determined yet, but the loss of Johnson would be a big blow if he has to miss some games.
Johnson has been surprisingly useful in the Chargers' pass rush and is really the only veteran presence in San Diego's defense next to Eric Weddle. The Chargers have already lost Dwight Freeney for the year with a torn quad and can't afford to lose another linebacker to injury.
It's safe to say that Philip Rivers can still sling the ball around despite a rough night of turnovers.
The Chargers quarterback has back-to-back games with more than 400 yards passing and added two touchdowns in the loss to Oakland, but his three interceptions were costly.
The first interception that Rivers threw looked like a miscommunication between Rivers and Eddie Royal, but the last two picks were squarely on Rivers. His final interception in the end zone couldn't have been any worse, as he gave the ball away when the Chargers desperately needed a score late in the game.
Rivers had just two interceptions leading up to Sunday night, but now has five thanks to a stingy Raiders defense.