San Diego Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders: Oakland Grades, Notes & Quotes

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2015

San Diego Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders: Oakland Grades, Notes & Quotes

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    It took an extra overtime period, but the Oakland Raiders pulled out a 23-20 victory in dramatic fashion over the San Diego Chargers on Thursday.

    Emotions ran high for safety Charles Woodson’s farewell, but the energy on the field lacked through three-and-a-half quarters. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers found success in throwing short passes on rub routes. The Raiders offense looked out of sync.

    After allowing 17 points in the first half, the Raiders defense held the Chargers to three points in the second half.

    Defensive lineman Denico Autry sacked Rivers in the end zone for a safety. Defensive lineman Benson Mayowa recovered and returned a fumble 40 yards to San Diego's 3-yard line, which setup a touchdown pass to wideout Michael Crabtree.

    A pass-interference call on cornerback D.J. Hayden put the Chargers in field-goal range, and kicker Josh Lambo tied the game at 20, leading to overtime.

    In the overtime period, the Raiders sustained a 15-play drive that resulted in a field goal to take the lead. The defense sealed the victory by forcing a game-ending four-and-out.

    For viewers who continued to watch the broadcast, Woodson gave one final farewell to the Raiders fans in attendance. He led a Raiders chant and spoke about a bright future for the franchise in a triumphant exit.

Position Grades for Raiders

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    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    Quarterback: C 

    Derek Carr committed two penalties and struggled to adjust the trajectory on his passes. Several throws were tipped at the line of scrimmage—including a throw on the first drive that resulted in an interception. He managed to accumulate 204 passing yards and throw a touchdown pass inside the 5-yard line.

    Running Backs: B+ 

    Latavius Murray carried the Raiders offense on his back for a long stretch in the first half as a ball-carrier and receiver. As usual, his production dropped significantly in the second half. He finished with 117 total yards from scrimmage.

    Wide Receivers: C

    None of the wideouts reached 40 receiving yards in this contest. Rookie Amari Cooper stood on the sidelines for a large portion of the game with a nagging foot injury. He caught two passes for 10 yards.

    Nonetheless, Crabtree caught a touchdown pass to give the Raiders an 18-17 lead in the fourth quarter. Seth Roberts followed with a catch for a two-point conversion.

    Tight Ends: D 

    The tight ends were relatively quiet throughout the game. Rookie Clive Walford made a 22-yard reception early but disappeared for the remainder of the game. Mychal Rivera secured a long reception in overtime, but a penalty negated the catch.

    Offensive Line: C- 

    Oakland lost many battles in the trenches. The Chargers linebackers ransacked the Raiders pass protection. Offensive linemen were constantly flagged for false starts and holding fouls throughout the contest.

    Defensive Line: B

    The Raiders held the Chargers rushing attack under 100 yards but only recorded one sack. 

    However, Autry’s safety and Mayowa’s fumble recovery provided points and exceptional field position for the offense in the second half.

    Linebackers: A

    The linebackers didn’t allow Chargers running back Danny Woodhead to rack up yards after the catch. Chargers tight end Antonio Gates recorded two catches for 11 yards as a non-factor in the middle of the field.

    Rookie Ben Heeney and Malcolm Smith combined for 18 solo tackles. Smith stripped Chargers tight end David Johnson, which allowed Mayowa to secure the fumble recovery.

    Secondary: B 

    Chargers wideout Dontrelle Inman racked up significant yards in the first half on short receptions. In the second half, the pass defense adjusted to the rub routes and kept San Diego out of the end zone. Hayden committed a costly penalty to put the Chargers in position to kick the game-tying field goal.

    Special Teams: A

    Kicker Sebastian Janikowski converted on two kicks—one accounted for the game-winning score in overtime.

    Punter Marquette King pinned the Chargers inside the 20-yard line on six out of eight punts.

    Coaching: B

    The offensive play-calling failed to stretch the field with Chargers defensive backs Jason Verrett and Eric Weddle on the sideline. Crabtree and Roberts didn’t become vital factors until late in the fourth quarter. 

    In the second half, defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. made adjustments to defend Rivers' short, quick passes. The defense played aggressively, scoring two points and forcing a turnover down the stretch.

    The coaching staff deserves kudos for a calling a gutsy fake punt. Unfortunately, a penalty negated safety Larry Asante’s 21-yard reception on the attempt.

Latavius Murray Reaches 1,000 Yards

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Murray eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for the season on Thursday. He became the first to do it for the franchise since Darren McFadden in 2010, per Associated Press writer Josh Dubow.

    Murray continues to carry the load alone at running back. Carr logged four carries and Woodson ran a read-option play in overtime.

    After missing his entire rookie season in 2013 and earning snaps late in 2014, Murray ranks as the third-leading rusher in the league in 2015.

    The offense leaned heavily on Murray’s production to move the ball against the Chargers. He registered five catches for 38 receiving yards to go along with 79 rushing yards on 21 carries.

Janikowski Converts 52nd Field Goal from 50-Plus Yards

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Janikowski nailed a 50-yard field goal to tie Jason Hanson for most successful 50-plus-yard field-goal attempts, per Dubow.

    Oakland’s kicker has struggled throughout the season, but he split the uprights on the kicks that helped the team to victory. 

    Janikowski isn’t the most accurate kicker, but he’s maintained his leg strength for long-distance attempts. He’ll have an opportunity to break the tie with Hanson in the final week against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jack Del Rio on Cooper's Foot Injury

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Cooper struggled to stay on the field on Thursday. Head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters a short week likely put too much stress on his foot injury, per San Jose Mercury News reporter Jimmy Durkin.

    "He was not able to be himself on the short week," Del Rio said. "It really affected his ability to get back to 100 percent."

    The offense struggled without Cooper on the field, even as a decoy. The Raiders didn’t aim to stretch the San Diego defense without their explosive rookie wideout available to garner coverage.

    The Raiders return to action on January 3, which allows Cooper 10 days to recuperate.

Woodson Speaks on Final Home Victory

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The Raiders started off sluggish on offense and struggled to defend Rivers’ short passes in the first half, but the defense settled down in the second half for a solid performance.

    Woodson, who played in his final game at the Oakland Coliseum, knew his team would work hard to win for him, but he’s still a team-first type of player.

    “Sometimes people try a little too hard in these situations,” said Woodson, per reporter Scott Bair. "I didn’t want the guys to get a win for me. I wanted them to get a win for the team, and we got that. That’s the important thing.”

    The palpable emotion in the stadium likely matched the intensity within the players, but it didn’t lead to immediate production on the field.

    The Raiders sleepwalked through three-and-a-half quarters, but the defense led the team to a seventh victory of the year, sending Woodson off as a winner in front of the home crowd.

    Follow Maurice Moton on Twitter for news, updates and intriguing discussion about the Oakland Raiders.

    All statistics are provided by Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football Focus and Team Rankings unless otherwise noted.

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