The Oakland Raiders went on the road and completed a sweep of the San Diego Chargers for the first time since 2001. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush carried the Raider offense with 42 rushes for 192 yards.
When your team comes into the game ranked sixth in rushing offense and 27th in pass offense, it makes sense to run the ball a lot. That is exactly what Hue Jackson and Tom Cable did—finally!
After a total of only 23 carries in the last two games combined (both losses), McFadden and Bush were finally given the chance to shine—and shine they did.
Oakland got a solid, not fantastic, performance from quarterback Jason Campbell. Campbell did exactly what he was asked to do and did nothing to hurt the team or lose the game. In essence, he protected the ball and he did his job.
The Raider defense played fantastic. They blitzed a lot to keep pressure on Phillip Rivers and shut down the Chargers running game, holding them to fewer than 300 total yards.
This is a huge win for the Raiders as they move to 4-0 in their division and keep pace with the Kansas City Chiefs, who also won this week.
Let's have a look at the players and coaches who stepped up and got it done for the Raiders.
Darren McFadden has been held down in the last few games. This was due in part to poor offensive line play, bad play calling by Hue Jackson and opponents scheming against him.
Whatever the case, it wasn't present against the Chargers.
McFadden got 19 carries for 97 yards and one touchdown in which he punished Chargers safety Eric Weddle at the goal line.
McFadden was not going to be denied.
Add his three catches for 30 yards, and D-Mac contributed a total of 127 yards from scrimmage. That's a decent day when you're playing the No. 1-ranked defense (in total yards allowed) in the NFL.
The 23 touches by McFadden are the bare minimum he needs every week for the Raiders to continue winning.
After being drastically underutilized the last two weeks, Michael Bush took the opportunity he was given in San Diego and did not disappoint.
Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson used both backs as they were intended.
Bush provided a pounding to the Charger front seven by taking the ball up the gut or off tackle and delivering punishment to those that attempted to tackle him.
It paid off in a big way for the Raiders, as Bush had 23 carries for 95 yards and the touchdown pictured. With an average of 4.1 yards per carry and a long run of 24 yards, Bush wasn't explosive, but he was effective.
This accomplished more than padding Bush's stats. It wore the Charger defense out and opened up better running lanes for his teammate, McFadden.
Raider fans should hope Jackson and Cable take notice of his performance and get him the ball more in upcoming games.
The Raider offensive line played pretty darn well on Sunday.
Wait. Did I just say that?
I've been extremely critical of the Raider offensive line lately, especially right guard Cooper Carlisle and center Samson Satele.
Frankly, they've deserved the criticism.
They didn't totally redeem themselves on Sunday, but they played better than I've seen them play in quite some time.
The running lanes were big and although Campbell had to bail them out with some scrambling, they did a decent job in pass protection and allowed only one sack.
Again, it wasn't great, but it was enough to win.
This unit still has a lot of room to improve, but they deserve some credit for a solid game.
I've been very rough on Hue Jackson lately, and deservedly so. He has not been utilizing the talent on the Raiders properly and the offense has been pitiful.
Not this time.
Jackson appears to have finally figured out what the Raiders do best—run the ball.
In the two losses to Pittsburgh and Miami combined, Jackson called 75 passes to just 28 runs. However, in this convincing win over the Chargers, Jackson called only 16 passes and 52 runs (4.86 yards per carry).
That's a recipe for Raider success.
Oakland possessed the ball most of the game, winning the time of possession battle 38:39 to 21:21 on the strength of 251 total yards rushing.
This is exactly what I was calling for in my previous articles—and what do you know? A Raider win.
Raider Nation needs to demand this trend continue.
Rolando McClain is becoming a great player right before our eyes. On Sunday, he put his pain and nagging injury aside and took the field for his team—and for Raider fans.
In the picture, McClain laid a game-changing hit on Charger running back Darren Sproles with a clean, shoulder-first "de-cleater."
This is the kind of physical play Raider Nation expected when McClain was taken with the eighth overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft.
McClain, (who needs a nickname...Ro-Mac, maybe?) led the team in tackles with seven.
This doesn't sound like much, but it's actually a good sign. It means the defense is not allowing sustained drives. Rather, they're getting off the field on third down.
With Richard Seymour not playing at full strength, the defensive line could have thrown in the towel, but they chose to fight on.
John Henderson substituted nicely for the ailing Seymour. He did his job by absorbing blockers and limited the effectiveness of the Chargers running game.
Tommy Kelly wreaked havoc on the guards and center of the Chargers and picked up a sack along with two tackles.
Rookie Lamarr Houston pitched in with two tackles and a sack. Even better, he remained disciplined and didn't allow anything to get outside of him.
The whole front four did what a defensive line is supposed to do—soak up blocks to allow the linebackers and secondary to fly around and make tackles. They also applied pressure to Rivers and hurried many throws.
In short, winning starts up front—and the Raiders did!
Michael Huff is another one of the players I've been critical of recently, but he's beginning to prove me wrong.
With Nnamdi Asomugha and Tyvon Branch not at 100 percent, the entire secondary had to step up. They did just that, and were led by Huff.
Huff chipped in with five tackles, but made his real impact with a rare interception of Phillip RIvers and even got a sack.
This is Huff's second great game in a row against the Chargers.
Hopefully for Raider fans Huff can keep up his stellar play. If so, the bad mouthing from me and other writers might stop.
Kamerion Wimbley has really helped the Raiders' defense become a lot tougher since coming in from Cleveland.
Wimbley applied pressure to Rivers every time he was called upon to do so—which was a lot.
He only tallied four tackles and one sack, but there's no counting the number of times Wimbley was in the back field getting a hand in Rivers' face or hitting him as he threw the ball and disrupting the running game.
The effect of constant pressure from the same person all day long has to be mentally fatiguing for a quarterback.
I wonder if Rivers went to his huddle and asked, "Will someone block 96 please?"
Stevie Brown and Mike Mitchell both got a lot more playing time than they usually do, but they stepped up and played well.
As discussed in a previous slide, Asomugha and Branch were at less than 100 percent. This meant more time on the sidelines for them and more playing time for the young guys.
These young players did not disappoint.
Brown got four tackles and provided some solid coverage when asked to do so.
Mike Mitchell took part with three tackles and, with only a couple exceptions, did fairly well in coverage.
In all, the Raiders' secondary was banged up, but did what great teams do—sent in the next man in line and he got it done.
I'm very optimistic for the future of Oakland's secondary.
In the end, the Chargers were beaten by the Raiders in nearly every moment of the game. The Raiders out worked, out thought, out hustled, out coached and out played the Chargers.
Hue Jackson decided to "Dance with who brung him" as I suggested in my preview article for this game. He ran the ball more than he passed by more than a two to one margin. That resulted in the Raiders owning the clock and ultimately winning the game.
John Marshall also did what I suggested, (and what Raider Nation has been shouting for) and blitzed Phillip Rivers relentlessly. The resulting pressure virtually killed the running game, (The Chargers earned just 21 rushing yards.) and forced bad throws from Rivers and an ineffective offense for San Diego.
Overall, it was a great team win for Oakland who are now in second place in the AFC West by virtue of holding the tie break over San Diego, just two games behind the new-look Chiefs.
Oakland has but one thing left to do this season—win out. Do that, and they will control their own destiny.
What or who did I miss Raider Nation? What was the biggest key that won it for the Raiders? Let me hear you in the comments.