The web is all a buzz with talk about the near-win against the San Diego Chargers, but history shows us that the Raiders have nearly beaten the Chargers in three of the last four playoff seasons—and AFC West Championship seasons—the Chargers have had.
It appears that the Raiders are turning the corner. On the other hand, we've seen this before.
"This time around, they made it much more interesting and exciting. I think their energy was a lot higher. They had the kind of attitude that, 'We're not going to lose this game at home.'"
-Steve Foley, Chargers linebacker
Robert Gallery's block in the back that negated Raiders QB Kerry Collins' touchdown pass with less than eight minutes left in the game forced the Raiders to settle for a field goal.
Collins then misfired on a couple near-touchdown throws to receiver Ronald Curry with little time left in the game, which would have won it for the Raiders.
The Raiders fell victim to a second-half comeback fueled by confusion and bad calls by the officials.
It was the Chargers' fifth-straight win over the Raiders, and seemed to be the start of something special for San Diego, which would eventually finish 14-2 with several notable comeback victories.
"It seems like it's magical, the way things are happening for us. It's kind of just going right for us," said LaDainian Tomlinson.
More like luck.
The Raiders were victimized by a dropped pass by Eric Parker that was called a catch on fourth down during the Chargers last-ditch, game-winning touchdown drive.
The game also inspired an NFL rule change when Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson caught a diving 13-yard pass on 4th-and-2 from the Raiders' 40. Jackson's subsequent celebratory spike was ruled an illegal forward pass.
The Chargers proceeded to score and extend their winning streak against the Raiders.
The Chargers appeared to be completely out-gunned.
For three quarters, the Raiders looked invincible. LaDainian Tomlinson was stuffed, Philip Rivers was stymied, and the Chargers' offensive line was completely over matched.
The Raiders went into the fourth quarter with a 15-3 lead, but the Chargers parlayed a JaMarcus Russell interception and fumble into a 18-15 lead and never looked back.
"We pride ourselves on no matter how we start, finishing the game strong. It didn't matter that it was against the Raiders," said Tomlinson.
The Raiders came out and did what I thought they'd do. Run it all over the Chargers for the first few offensive series.
But the dominant running game of the Raiders dried up midway through the second quarter, and so did the Raiders chance of winning—or so I thought.
The Raiders gutsy call to go for it on 4th-and-14 from their own 43-yard line with 2:34 left gave the Raiders a 20-17 lead at home, but left one of the best fourth-quarter passers in the league over the past three seasons—Philip Rivers—too much time to engineer a comeback.
The Rivers-led Chargers went 89 yards to pay dirt, punctuated by a game-winning, five-yard touchdown run by Darren Sproles.