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Raiders still unleash beast in Chargers

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Oct 15, 2007.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    October 15, 2007 LaDainian Tomlinson may be the first person since Jack London happy to see Oakland. Gertrude Stein couldn't find any there there, but LT has, “there” being tremendous opportunities. And the Raiders have been very accommodating to the great Chargers tailback over the years.

    LT must really hate the Oakland Raiders. I like to think the ghost of Al Davis haunted him, as it did others, as a child. Among famous Chargers, he may despise them more than Gene Klein, Harland Svare, Marty Schottenheimer and Norv Turner (don't believe for a second Turner doesn't).
    “I don't know why; it's weird,” Tomlinson was saying yesterday in trying to explain his success against the Silver and Black/Team of the Decades after rushing for 198 yards and four touchdowns in San Diego's 28-14 win. “We always have some success running the football (against them).”
    OK, so maybe, internally, LT doesn't really hate the Raiders. Outwardly, his actions say he does. But the big thing in his life now – he takes losing about as well as Pavarotti enjoyed a sore throat – is that his team is 3-3, right there with Kansas City in the AFC West, and has won two straight headed into its bye week.
    <TABLE cellPadding=2 width=284 align=right><TBODY><TR><TD>[​IMG]
    SEAN M. HAFFEY / Union-Tribune​
    Leaping the pileup of players on a third-and-goal carry from the 3, LaDainian Tomlinson extends the ball toward the goal line. His first TD put the Chargers ahead to stay.

    </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>But you know Turner, who was fired as Raiders head coach following two unsuccessful, hen-pecked Big Al Davis seasons in the East Bay, had to be loving yesterday. Certainly there was satisfaction for him, beating the organization that canned him when Lombardi couldn't have won there.
    “Certainly there is,” he said. “I won't lie about that. But that's personal. It's not the issue.”
    Oh, it's part of it, although getting his team out of the 1-3 hole he helped dig also was personal. It involved his personal well-being. Turner was getting clobbered around here, and he no doubt hasn't seen the last of it. He inherited a team that had just gone 14-2. Turner wasn't stepping into a cow pasture, but his team basically stunk out the first month. So, the Chargers last week went to Denver, where they win about as often as Jerry Sanders and Mike Aguirre see eye-to-eye, and won 41-3. And then the Raiders came in here, off a bye, leading the NFL in rushing and feeling good about themselves for the first time in years, and were smothered. San Diego got them down 14-0 early, held them to 53 yards on the ground, and hesitant, indecisive, new-to-the-system quarterback Daunte Culpepper didn't have nearly enough to get it done. He was sacked six times, despite throwing so much quick stuff to avoid the rush. The key to this one was that the Chargers opened up running and didn't give up on it. “We ran the ball early, and we ran it successfully,” LT said. Then, after the Raiders scored their lone offensive touchdown – their other would come on a 66-yard interception return by linebacker Thomas Howard (the residue of a poorly scripted Philip Rivers throw) – with 5:18 to play in the fourth quarter, the Chargers finished.
    They took the kickoff to their own 15. On a six-play drive, Tomlinson ran for 16, 11 and then 41 yards for the icing. These were the Chargers of last year, sometimes taking it to the brink, but still managing.
    “We did finish this game,” said Tomlinson, who in 13 games vs. Oakland has rushed for 1,653 yards and scored 18 touchdowns. “That last drive, we all said to each other in the huddle to leave it up to us; let's not put it on the defense; let's finish the game right here. “Norv put it in our hands, and that last drive was beautiful.”
    As they did on more than one occasion in 2006, the Chargers got a bit lucky. Near the end of the half, Culpepper hit wide-open receiver Ronald Curry, who was headed for the end zone when knocked out at the 1 by cornerback Quentin Jammer. The Raiders ended up with zilch. The only really disturbing thing for the defense was Oakland's third-quarter drive for a score. On that drive, the Raiders converted on third-and-14, fourth-and-12, third-and-7 and third-and-7. Other than that, the visitors basically did nothing on the offensive side of the ball, and their defense allowed 362 total yards. What wasn't disturbing was how the Chargers' offensive line blocked for the run when challenged by a whole bunch of defenders in the box. The line hadn't done much of this through the first four weeks. “We went back to some of the stuff that allows you to run the ball against eight people,” LT said. “You get the receiver in and the receiver is able to block the eighth man, so that was pretty much our game plan.”
    You figure out why they couldn't block it earlier in the season, when it was as though Tomlinson were benched. Don't look at me. I'll leave it to the geniuses. Meanwhile, LT isn't exactly welcoming this bye week. “You feel like you're on a roll and want to keep playing,” he said. Rest, LT, rest. You don't get Oakland again until Dec. 30.


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