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Raiders Flattened By Chargers

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Dec 5, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2005/12/05/SPGKCG34021.DTL" target="_blank">SFGate.com</a>

    <img src="http://bolttalk.com/images/wilhelm03.jpg" alt="Matt Wilhelm" />

    By Nancy Gay

    San Diego -- The always genial chants of "Raiders Suck!" wafted through chilly Qualcomm Stadium late in the fourth quarter Sunday night, putting that special touch on a horrible Raiders' second half and a 34-10 blowout loss to the surging Chargers.

    What is it about San Diego, where so many Raiders' seasons have withered and died the past three years? Coach Bill Callahan saw his team lose a Super Bowl here after the 2002 season, then he lost his job amid a team mutiny in the regular-season finale at Qualcomm in 2003.

    Now it's all on Raiders coach Norv Turner, whose 4-8 team dropped its fifth AFC West game this season and might have compromised his job security in the process.

    After quarterback Kerry Collins, heavily pressured all night, trashed a respectable first half performance (13-of-20 passing, 151 yards, one touchdown) with a dreadful second half that saw his lone interception returned 70 yards for a touchdown, everyone knows where the blame will fall.

    Turner -- who refused to pull his struggling starter, even as the Raiders held the ball all of 89 seconds the entire third quarter -- certainly feels it.

    "There's no question. That's the way it is. In terms of the coach, that's how it should be,'' said Turner, whose record as the Raiders' head coach fell to 9-19 and 1-10 against AFC West competition. "When we were healthy and had all our guys, the biggest issue was, we had three or four real close games.''

    Now they're blowouts. And remarkably, an old Raiders' standby, those annoying penalties, weren't the issue. In fact, the team did not commit a single infraction -- a first since the 1973 season.

    This was about lack of execution, players losing one-on-one battles.

    Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who rushed for 140 yards and ran, caught and threw a touchdown in the Oct. 16 meeting at Oakland, was held to 86 yards on the ground and 110 yards total.

    "If you had told me we'd have zero penalties and contain L.T., I'd say we were going to win the game,'' said a furious Stuart Schweigert, the Raiders' second-year safety. He fumed over how outrageous that sounded.

    Then he hit on the real reason for this latest pounding, the Raiders' fourth loss in their last five games.

    "We didn't create any turnovers,'' Schweigert said. "They created two, one for a touchdown, one that led to a touchdown for them.''

    That sums it up.

    Running back LaMont Jordan was disconsolate afterward, looking back on what he called "the worst game in my NFL career."

    "When you fumble the ball, it's a terrible feeling,'' said Jordan, who did just that as the first quarter expired. "Basically, if you've ever dropped an infant, that's how you feel when you fumble.''

    Early, this had the look of a classic Raiders-Chargers stare-down. The teams exchanged field goals, with the Raiders actually taking a lead on Sebastian Janikowski's 37-yarder. San Diego's Nate Kaeding responded with a 41-yard field goal. But a simple draw play sending Jordan up the middle in the final 30 seconds of the first quarter turned into the game's first touchdown -- for the other team.

    The sure-handed running back lowered his head on 3rd-and-10 at the Raiders' 34-yard line but had the ball stripped by strong safety Clinton Hart, who started in place of the injured Terrence Kiel.

    Chargers linebacker Randall Godfrey recovered at the Raiders' 34, and a near-brawl ensued on the change of possession, with tackle Tommy Kelly and linebacker Danny Clark exchanging words with San Diego tight end Antonio Gates.

    Seven plays later, San Diego quarterback Drew Brees, who completed 17-of-22 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns, threw a 6-yard scoring pass to Gates and the Chargers jumped ahead 10-3.

    "That gave them momentum,'' said Jordan, who had also dropped a third-down pass and finished with only 55 yards rushing on 15 carries -- after rushing eight times for 42 yards in the opening quarter.

    It was all so puzzling.

    The Raiders looked more than competitive in the first half, with Collins completing 5-of-6 passes en route to a beautiful arcing 16-yard touchdown throw to 6-foot-7 tight end Courtney Anderson with 6:59 left before the break, a ball that was expertly placed over the top and just past the reach of Godfrey.

    The Raiders trailed 17-10 at the break, thanks to running back Michael Turner's 2-yard touchdown run.

    Injuries and malaise rapidly caught up to the Raiders. Defensive back Jarrod Cooper left with a strained left calf, leaving rookie returner Chris Carr and aging Calvin Branch -- re-signed six days ago -- to cover the dangerous Gates.

    Brees hit wide receiver Eric Parker on a 1-yard touchdown pass with 4:55 left in the third and the score jumped to 24-10.

    But when Collins made his biggest mistake of the night -- aiming the ball deep downfield to wide receiver Doug Gabriel and overthrowing him, putting the ball in the hands of Hart -- the Raiders were cooked.

    Hart ran nearly untouched 70 yards to the end zone, and his interception return with 6:29 remaining might have closed the book on more than just another ugly AFC West loss.

    "It was a misread on my part,'' said Collins, who completed 22-of-40 passes for 236 yards. "I tried to throw the ball quick. And I was wrong.''

    All that said, did Turner ever consider pulling Collins, who was sacked seven times a week before in the 33-21 loss to Miami, and three times Sunday night?

    "No. That didn't enter my mind,'' Turner said.

    With his protection breaking down and his numbers taking a dive, does Collins believe he's still the best quarterback for the Raiders right now?

    "I think I am,'' he said. "I want to be in there, as long as we're playing. I said this week I feel this is my team, and I'll go down fighting with everybody.''

    Wide receiver Jerry Porter maintained his loyalty to Collins.

    "Look, I'm behind the guy. I don't care what anybody says -- you are not going to put this on the quarterback,'' said Porter, who had to work for his six catches for 50 yards. "If the O-line -- and I don't want to come out attacking them -- if they can't hold up long enough for the quarterback to take three steps and get the ball out, we ain't ever gonna have a chance.''

    Is the answer a more mobile quarterback? Should the Raiders have gone to scrambling backup Marques Tuiasosopo in the third quarter, when the offense couldn't convert?

    "The answer isn't going to a more mobile quarterback,'' Porter said. "The answer is, us not dropping balls out there. And just blocking some damn body.''

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