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Oakland Raiders Defeat San Diego Chargers For First Time Since 2003

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Oakland Raiders Defeat San Diego Chargers For First Time Since 2003
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Jason Campbell

It's over.  It's finally over. 

Breath deep Raider nation and savor that air.

The Oakland Raiders have snapped a 13-game losing streak that dated to 2003 by defeating the San Diego Chargers, 35-27, in the Oakland Coliseum.

Today is 10/10/10. 

In binary code, that translates as the number 42, which according to an old story in computer science is the answer to the universe.  The story is that a bunch of scientists once had a computer calculate the meaning of life, the universe, and everything else, and the answer was 42.

Funnily enough, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers attempted 42 passes today.  I suppose that means that passing is the answer to the NFL universe. 

It's either that, or just win, baby!

Commissioner Roger Goodell was in attendance and spoke with Tom Flores and Greg Pappa at halftime.  After all the criticism I've had of Commissioner Goodell, I must wonder if his presence was good luck.  Well okay, I'm merely being nice.

Surely, Charger fans will say they just choked.  And I bet some Raider fans will too.

But I'll take it either way.

I feel validated today after I wrote that the Raiders could get hot down the stretch. 

It was a scrappy way for the Raiders to win, with backup quarterback Jason Campbell in relief for Bruce Gradkowski, while backup tailback Michael Bush started in place of the injured Darren McFadden.

Despite a laundry list of injuries, the Raiders have had the "never give up" attitude, even after the Chargers built a two-score lead in the third quarter.  The Raiders fought back in the fourth quarter, a comeback that included a 97-yard drive for a touchdown led by Campbell.

The wild game began with the Raiders jumping out to a 12-0 lead in the first quarter, after blocking a punt for a safety, scoring a field goal after the free kick, and blocking a punt again for a touchdown.

Once again, terrible play on special teams has haunted the Chargers.  After allowing three touchdowns on kickoff returns this year, the Chargers allowed two consecutive blocked punts to the Raiders.

Campbell turned in some efficient numbers by finishing 13-for-18, 159 yards, and a touchdown pass to Zach Miller, who had a total of six receptions for 62 yards.  Bush would also add a touchdown and 104 yards on 26 carries.

The defense bent but didn't break, and that's sugar coating it. 

The Raiders were burned by the prolific passing of the Chargers, but also forced key turnovers. In all the Raiders had three sacks and three fumble recoveries, with one returned for a touchdown by safety Tyvon Branch.

The Raiders also got a break when the Chargers did not challenge what may have been a touchdown.  Instead, fullback Mike Tolbert lost a fumble near the goal line.

Linebacker Trevor Scott and defensive end Matt Shaughnessy also validated my belief that Shaughnessy should be the starter at right end, and that Scott should primarily play linebacker.  Scott started at linebacker in place of the injured Quentin Groves and finished with seven tackles (Scott had started the four previous games at right end).

Shaughnessy had six total tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.

I definitely owe an apology to the Chargers for saying that the offense would be hindered without tackle Marcus McNeil and wideout Vincent Jackson.

San Diego wideout Malcolm Floyd had eight receptions for 213 yards plus a touchdown, while tight end Antonio Gates had five receptions for 92 yards plus a touchdown. 

Quarterback Philip Rivers threw a total of 431 yards and two touchdowns, but also lost two critical fumbles with one going back the other way for a touchdown to ice the game for the Raiders.

 

Final Thoughts

The Raiders are a tenacious team in 2010 that is playing with a sense of purpose.  They still must improve and be consistent, but I definitely sense a change in culture.

My biggest concern for the Raiders is still the costly penalties.

The Raiders face the San Francisco 49ers next week.  With the Niners struggling, the Raiders must focus this week and capitalize on the golden opportunity to be back at .500.

The Chargers are notorious slow starters.  Despite the loss and two total in the division thus far, San Diego is still a dangerous team in the AFC West.  The Chargers can't solely blame the special teams for the loss, yet the costly mistakes obviously aren't helping.

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