The wonderful days of football season have officially started! The San Diego Chargers kicked off their regular season opener with a little-too-close-for-comfort game against a long time rival. The Chargers played the Oakland Raiders in a Monday night football game to close out week one of the 2009 season. All fans- both Charger and Raider, calm and crazy- piled into the “Black Hole” Monday night for what turned out to be an exciting game.
Coming into the game, the Chargers were highly favored, having beaten the Raiders the last straight eleven meetings. The Chargers and their fans all hoped they would easily make the streak an even dozen, but all would soon find out that a win wasn’t going to come as easily as hoped for. The Chargers struggled for most of the first half as Oakland seamed to stomp all over them, offensively and defensively. As the Chargers struggled, however, Oakland looked crisp and in rhythm. The Raiders were the first to put points on the board with a Michael Bush touchdown run late in the first quarter. The Chargers would soon answer after a few fumbles from each team, however, with a LaDainian Tomlinson touchdown run.
Although said to be a Super Bowl quality team, the Chargers didn’t look it throughout this game. The team has struggled in the past at the beginning of the season but hoped to change that this year. Even though many of the Charger players had a fairly good game, the team as a whole couldn’t do much on either side of the ball. The defense put little or no pressure at all on JaMarcus Russell, the Raiders quarterback, and left many Oakland receivers open down the field. The offense struggled to make first downs as well as allowing star quarterback, Philip Rivers (who just signed a 6-year, 93 million dollar contract soon before the start of the season), little protection and time in the pocket. When called upon, however, the offense would come through for their team more times than not.
With only a little more than two minutes to go before the clock hit double zero, the Raiders scored a brilliant touchdown on a fourth and fifteen. They decided not to punt away and go for the long conversion. Not only did they come up with it, but scored to take the lead. That left the Chargers, however, plenty of time to come back and score. And that is exactly what they did. The Charger offense put together a nice drive; making many good catches and runs. Darren Sproles soon blasted through the defense for a short touchdown run with only 21 seconds left in the game. The Chargers, for once, were on the winning side of a close last second win.
With a little help from the referees, a few great kickoff returns, and determination, the Chargers walked out beat up, but not beaten. Many of the Chargers starters suffered injuries in the brutal game, LT being one of them. He tweaked his ankle and wasn’t even a part of the two minute winning touchdown drive. Head Coach Norv Turner assured the public that the injuries weren’t as bad as they may have seemed but the full extent of them won’t be known until practice the next day. So the Chargers come out on top, even though they may not have exactly deserved it, and hopefully this is just the first of many wins to come.