Raiders vs. Chargers: Takeaways from San Diego's 26-13 Win over Oakland
Heading into Sunday's game, San Diego needed a win and losses from Miami and Baltimore to stay in the hunt for the sixth seed in the AFC. The Dolphins and Ravens were blown out on Sunday, and the Chargers handled business at home, which allowed fans to stay hopeful of the postseason for at least one more week.
The Chargers will host Kansas City in the regular-season finale next Sunday, and in addition to a win, they'll need Miami and Baltimore to lose again to get in.
Here are takeaways from Sunday's win over the Raiders.
Game Plan from Denver Win Carries over
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Beating Denver required clock management and a healthy dose of the run game, so why not implement that same game plan against a struggling Raiders team?
The Chargers had possession for almost 35 minutes and rushed the ball 37 times. San Diego settled for four field goals and turned the ball over on three drives, but Oakland beat itself on offense thanks to penalties.
Too Many Turnovers
The rivalry with the Raiders brings out the worst in the Chargers for some reason.
In Week 5, San Diego lost to the Raiders thanks to five turnovers. This time around, the Chargers coughed up three more turnovers but managed to escape with the win.
Philip Rivers threw a rare interception and fumbled a snap, and Keenan Allen had a muffed punt get away from him. Oakland couldn't capitalize off every turnover, but playoff teams would turn those mistakes into points.
Mathews Sets Career Mark, Leaves Game with Injury
Good news: Ryan Mathews had a slow start in the first half but quickly regained focus in the second half.
Mathews rushed for 99 yards against the Raiders and set a new career high for rushing yards in a single season (1,111), passing his previous high of 1,091. The Chargers running back also had a rushing touchdown (his third straight game with a touchdown).
Bad news: Mathews injured his foot late in the game and was forced to head into the locker room. Mathews eventually returned but was reportedly seen wearing a protective boot on the injured foot after the game, according to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Rivers Golden in Month of December
Rivers improved his record to 29-6 in the month of December following Sunday's win.
Looking at the numbers, Rivers was average against the Raiders but did enough to get his team the win in the end. Rivers had 201 yards passing and a touchdown, but he also threw an interception trying to hook up with Vincent Brown.
Allen Seeing Fewer Targets but Still Finding the End Zone
Defenses have been paying close attention to San Diego's rookie sensation, but Allen has still managed to find the end zone five times in the last three games.
In a span of three games, Allen has caught just eight balls on 15 targets, but those few catches have helped move the chains or gone for scores. Even with the added coverage, Allen is still getting free and punishing opponents.
Silver, Black and Yellow
Penalty flags rained down at Qualcomm Stadium, and the Raiders were responsible for 12 of them.
Oakland's penalties totaled 73 yards on Sunday, and the blame goes on both sides of the ball. Offense and defense struggled with penalties. From false starts and delay of game to taunting and defensive holding.
Whenever the Raiders were on the brink of a defensive stop or in the middle of a good drive, a penalty was sure to come. San Diego cruised to a win thanks to Oakland beating itself.
Defense Stays Strong
The Chargers defense held Oakland to 13 points and 265 total yards.
A little more than a week removed from the win over Denver, San Diego's defense was on cloud nine. The Broncos were held to just 18 rushing yards last week, and the Raiders struggled just as much, finishing with 59 rushing yards.
On top of the stout run defense, the Chargers also kept the passing game in check for the most part and forced two turnovers. John Pagano has completely turned around his defense in the past few games, considering San Diego was allowing a little more than 400 yards per game early in the season.
On a side note, Melvin Ingram made his first start since tearing his ACL in the offseason and came away with a sack.
What Happens Now?
The path to the postseason will require a Chargers win next Sunday and losses by Miami and Baltimore.
The Dolphins and Ravens will play early games, so the Chargers will likely know their fate by kickoff. Miami will host the New York Jets, and Baltimore will be on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals.
It's not over yet for Chargers fans, but a lot needs to happen.