Raiders close out regular season against Chargers at StubHub Center

Oakland Raiders’ Amari Cooper (89) catches a pass against Philadelphia Eagles’ Corey Graham (24) during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

OAKLAND — The Raiders will wrap up the 2017 regular season on the road against the Chargers at the StubHub Center. Sunday’s game will also conclude the regular season series between these longtime rivals, who first met back in 1960. Los Angeles defeated the Raiders back in Week 6, 17-16, in Oakland. Raiders lead the all-time series 62-51-2.

Oakland (6-9) dropped their third straight game, losing to the now 13-2 Philadelphia Eagles 19-10 before a national televised audience on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. The Raiders’ defense played strong, holding the Eagles to just 216 yards of total offense (138 passing and 78 rushing).

The Silver and Black held the Eagles to just 1-of-14 on third downs. Middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman led the Raiders with seven tackles, while defensive linemen Denico Autry and Jihad Ward each recording a sack; it was Ward’s first career sack.

Safety Reggie Nelson was around the football the entire night, forcing two turnovers against Philadelphia in the second half. Nelson forced a fumble that was recovered by cornerback TJ Carrie, and then registered an interception off Eagles starting quarterback Nick Foles in the fourth quarter. For the game, Nelson finished with six tackles and three pass defensed.

Offensively, Oakland’s running game came alive behind starting running back Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for 95 yards on 25 carries. Starting quarterback Derek Carr threw for 140 yards on 15-of-29 passing with one touchdown and one interception.

After missing the previous two games with an ankle injury, wide receiver Amari Cooper returned to the lineup and finished with three catches for 66 yards and one touchdown. Cooper got great separation from Eagles starting cornerback Jalen Mills running a slant-and-go for a 63-yard score in the first half.

Los Angeles (8-7) enters Week 17 with a shot at making the AFC playoffs. After a slow start to the season, the Chargers have now won five of their last six games after dispatching the New York Jets, 14-7, last Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Chargers can clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Raiders, coupled with losses by both the Tennessee Titans (8-7) and Buffalo Bills (8-7).

Starting quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 290 yards on 22-of-40 passing with one touchdown against the Jets last week. The 14-year veteran enters the final weekend of the season ranking third in the NFL in passing yards with 4,128 and ninth in touchdown passes with 25 and only 10 interceptions.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen appears to be all the way back from the torn ACL he suffered last season, ranking fourth among wide receivers in the NFL with 1,260 receiving yards to go along with 93 catches–all career-highs for the fifth-year pro. Allen has caught five touchdowns this season.

Running back Melvin Gordon is Los Angeles’s most versatile offensive weapon. Gordon is tied for third in the NFL with 12 touchdowns (eight rushing and four receiving). The third-year pro rushed for 81 yards on 19 carries and one touchdown against the Jets, helping him eclipse 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.

Gordon enters Sunday’s matchup against Oakland rushing for 1,012 yards on 257 carries, to go along with 52 catches for 445 yards this season.

The Chargers have one of the better defenses in the league, ranking fifth in the NFL with 41 sacks. Second-year defensive end Joey Bosa leads the team with 11.5 sacks, while fellow defensive end Melvin Ingram is close behind with 10 sacks. After finishing tied for the NFL lead in interceptions in 2016, Los Angeles is currently tied for third with 17 interceptions this season.

Safety Tre Boston and cornerback Casey Hayward are tied for the team lead with four picks apiece.

Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m. PT.

Oakland Raiders host Los Angeles Chargers Sunday in first of two meetings for this season

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) greets injured Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr after an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. The Ravens won 30-17. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND — Looking to get back into the win column and avoid their first four-game losing streak since losing 16-straight regular season games from Nov. 24, 2013 to Nov. 16, 2014, the Raiders welcome one of their AFC West rivals in the Los Angeles Chargers for an important matchup in Week 5.

Oakland (2-3) is currently in the middle of a three-game home stand at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, having lost in Week 5 to the Baltimore Ravens 30-17 and host their most bitter rival, the Kansas City Chiefs, on Oct. 19 in prime-time on Thursday Night Football.

Kickoff for Sunday’s game is at 1:25 p.m. PT.

With starting quarterback Derek Carr sidelined for the game with a traverse process fracture in his back, backup quarterback EJ Manuel filled in admirably for Carr completing 13-of-26 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown in his first start for the Silver and Black. Manuel found a comfort level with wide receiver Michael Crabtree in the game, connecting with Crabtree for a 41-yard touchdown strike in the second quarter.

Crabtree finished as the Raiders’ top receiver for the day, collecting six catches for 82 yards to go along with the aforementioned touchdown after missing Oakland’s 16-10 loss Week 3 loss in Denver.

Oakland’s other starting wide receiver Amari Cooper was again a no-show, recording just one catch for eight yards on two targets. The ground game was paced by running back Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for 43 yards on 12 carries and his second touchdown of the year (all at home). Backup running back Jalen Richard contributed to the offense as well, rushing for 37 yards on nine carries.

The Raiders do expect Carr to start Sunday and hope to rejuvenate an offense that ranks in the middle of the league in points per game (21.6), which is good for 16th, but rank 23rd in rushing yards per game (90.6), 26th in passing yards (188.6), and 30th in total yards per game (279.2) through the first five games of the season.

Carr has thrown for 753 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions this year.

Last year through five games, Oakland ranked sixth in total offense scoring just a shade under 28 points per game.

Oakland’s offensive line, which was a pillar of strength for the team last year after only giving up 18 sacks in 16 games, have already surrendered 12 sacks this season through five games.

With the Chargers ranking third in the NFL with 17 sacks this season, the offensive line will have their work cut out for them. Defensive end Melvin Ingram leads the Chargers and the AFC in sacks with 7.5, while fellow defensive end Joey Bosa is not far off with 4.5 sacks.

Bosa made an immediate impact in his first pro game last year against the Raiders, sacking Carr twice en route to 10.5 sacks and being named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year after missing the first four games of the season in a contract dispute.

Second-year outside linebacker Jatavis Brown has become one of the league’s surest tacklers, leading the Chargers with 46 tackles (32 solo) this season. Last year when the Chargers called San Diego home, they finished tied for the league lead with 18 interceptions.

This season, the Chargers have recorded just two picks and have been bludgeoned by opposing teams on the ground. Los Angeles ranks dead-last in stopping the run, allowing 161.2 yards rushing per game.

In Week 2, the Chargers allowed 122 yards to Jay Ajayi, 172 yards to Kareem Hunt in Week 3, and 136 yards to LeGarrette Blount in Week 4.

That should bode well for Oakland, who still has yet to have a running back crack 100 yards rushing in a game this season. Lynch leads the Raiders with 57 carries for 194 yards and two touchdowns, while Richard is second on the team in rushing with 24 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown.

But the second-year Richard leads Oakland with 5.3 yards per carry this season, not the 10-year veteran in Lynch, who is second with 3.4 yards per carry.

Los Angeles (1-4) picked up their first win of the 2017 season, winning 27-22 against the winless New York Giants (0-5) at MetLife Stadium last Sunday. Starting quarterback Philip Rivers completed 21-of-44 passes for 254 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

Now in his 14th season, Rivers ranks in the top-10 among all starting quarterbacks this year, pacing fifth in passing yards (1,365) and seventh in touchdown passes (9). His 266.8 passing yards per game ranks sixth among passers. Rivers has only thrown five interceptions this season and has been sacked just six times, a testament to the Chargers much improved offensive line.

The Chargers average 19.8 points per game, ranking 19th in the league, but can put up yards offensively, ranking 11th averaging 345.6 yards per game.

Running back Melvin Gordon was unstoppable running the ball and catching the ball against the Giants. Gordon carried the ball 20 times for 105 yards and led the Chargers with a game-high six catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns.

Gordon is tied for fourth in the NFL with five total touchdowns (two rushing, three receiving) this season.

The third-year running back from Wisconsin caught the game-winning touchdown from Rivers with less than a minute to play in the fourth quarter to cement the Chargers’ victory.

Rivers is 14-8 in 22 career games against the Silver and Black, throwing for 37 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. His 37 touchdowns against the Raiders are the most that Rivers has thrown against any team in the NFL in his career.

Former California wide receiver Keenan Allen is the Chargers’ best wide receiver, leading the team with 28 catches for 401 yards and a touchdown.

Oakland has won the last four-straight meetings against the Chargers after sweeping both games in 2015 and 2016.

Los Angeles will host Oakland in Week 17 at the StubHub Center in Carson.



Oakland heads to San Diego with playoff berth on the line

AP file photo – In a Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016 file photo, Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo. It could be a remarkable scene Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016 when the Oakland Raiders, closing in on their first playoff berth since their Super Bowl season of 2002, face a fading Chargers franchise that could be in the death throes of its 56-season run in San Diego. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga, File)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND, Calif — One more step, and the Oakland Raiders can end 14 years of misery and disappointment.

With a win over the Chargers in San Diego, Oakland can punch their ticket to the playoffs since the team’s last playoff appearance in 2002. That season ended with a trip to Super Bowl XXXVII where they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in San Diego.

Oakland (10-3) is tied for first place in the AFC West and has a two-game lead in the wild-card race with three games to go.

Can you believe it? It was just two years ago that the Silver and Black were just an abysmal mess, sitting at 0-10.

The Raiders saw their six-game winning streak snap by the Chiefs 21-13 in Kansas City last Thursday night.

Quarterback Derek Carr continues to have his issues with Kansas City, but the loss wasn’t entirely on his shoulders.

Carr completed just 17-of-41 passes for 117 yards, but the third-year signal caller was victimized by drops from wide receiver Seth Roberts and a missing on a potential game-tying touchdown deep down the middle to Amari Cooper in the third quarter.

Cooper’s led all Oakland wide receivers with five catches for 29 yards. Cooper, who eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season, enters Sunday’s matchup with 1,010 receiving yards and ranks sixth in the league with 73 catches.

With San Diego decimated by injuries (the Chargers have 18 players on injured reserve), this is a game where Carr, Cooper, and fellow wide receiver Michael Crabtree (71 catches, 806 receiving yards, and 7 TDs) can do some damage and get Oakland’s offensive fluidity back on track.

Khalil Mack is the center of the universe in Oakland’s 30th ranked defense, and is no doubt the leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

Mack is tied for third with Washington defensive end Ryan Kerrigan with 11 sacks and has recorded one sack in eight consecutive games. Mack also has 61 tackles, five forced fumbles, and one interception (a pick-6) on the season.

San Diego (5-8) is mercifully looking for the season to end and maybe playing Oakland for the last time at Qualcomm Stadium.

After San Diego voters shot down a stadium proposal last month, the Chargers inch closer to moving to Los Angeles when the NFL owners unanimously approved a tenant-lease contract between the Chargers and Los Angeles Rams on Wednesday.

The Chargers have until Jan. 15 to exercise an option to relocate to Los Angeles.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is on pace for his eighth 4,000-yard passing season with 3,589 yards and fifth 30-touchdown passing season with 27 touchdowns, but Rivers has been a turnover machine with a league-high 17 interceptions.

Rivers was solely responsible for five turnovers — three interceptions and two strip-sack fumbles in San Diego’s 28-16 loss at Carolina in Week 14.

As a team, San Diego has a league-worse 30 turnovers this season.

Running back Melvin Gordon, who is on the brink of his first 1,000-yard rushing season with 997 yards on the ground, is out for Sunday’s game with a hip injury. Gordon was carted off the field against Carolina.

With top wide receiver Keenan Allen lost for the season in Week 1 with a torn ACL, Tyrell Williams has become Rivers’ favorite deep-threat.

The second-year undrafted wide receiver from Western Oregon has been one of the brighter spots for San Diego this season, leading the team in catches (55), receiving yards 905, and tied for touchdowns (6).

Williams has three 100-yard receiving games this season, one of them was a five-catch, 117 yards and a touchdown against Oakland in Week 5.

Wide receiver Travis Benjamin, who signed with San Diego in the offseason, also recorded 117 receiving yards on seven catches in Oakland.

The Raiders, who have had trouble this season covering the tight end, must account for future Hall of Famer in Antonio Gates and rookie Hunter Henry who both scored against the Raiders.

Oakland has won the last three meetings against San Diego, most recently a 34-31 affair at the Oakland Coliseum on Oct. 9. Carr threw for 317 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while Rivers passed for 359 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions.




Raiders Instant Report Card: Cooper finally scores, Raiders tie Broncos for first place in AFC West with win over Chargers

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND, Calif — I guess the Raiders love winning games by the closest of margins this season.

In a match up teams going in opposite directions, Oakland prevailed over visiting San Diego, 34-31, Sunday afternoon. Oakland took advantage of four Chargers’ turnovers and a botched field goal attempt on San Diego’s final drive of the game.

All of Oakland’s games this season have been decided by seven points or less, leading to the Raiders (4-1) to a share of the AFC West lead with the Denver Broncos.

Denver (4-1) was knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten, losing at home to the Atlanta Falcons 23-16 Sunday. Atlanta (4-1) also defeated the Raiders 35-28 in Week 2, spoiling Oakland’s home opener.

Checkout each unit’s grade following the Raiders’ first win at the Oakland Coliseum this year:

Quarterback (B+) – Coming into the game Sunday, their was so much talk that Oakland would blowout San Diego, who are a depleted with 14 players on injured reserve but that was not the case.

Oakland missed opportunities in the first half on offense, settling for three Sebastian Janikowski field goals and trailing San Diego, 10-9 at halftime.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr seemed overly-excited in the first half in front of the sold out Raider Nation crowd, throwing only his second interception of the season on a shovel pass intended for rookie running back DeAndre Washington to Chargers defensive tackle Brandon Mebane on Oakland’s first drive of the game.

But Carr rebounded, completing 25-of-40 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns against a Chargers secondary that were playing without Pro Bowl cornerback Jason Verrett, who was lost for the season with a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

With Oakland trailing 17-9 in the third quarter,  Carr threw a beautiful pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper down the Chargers’ sideline for a 64-yard score to pull Oakland closer, 17-16.

Following a Philip Rivers’ 1-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Hunter Henry that pushed San Diego’s lead to 24-16, Carr found wide receiver Michael Crabtree for a 21-yard touchdown on 4th and 2 that trimmed the Chargers’ lead to 24-22 before Carr found Cooper on a quick slant for the two-point conversion that tied the score 24-24.

For the season, Carr has thrown for 1,383 yards, 11 touchdowns, and two interceptions while completing 67-percent of his passes.

”Sometimes you just have to find ways to win and get it done at the end,” Carr said after the game. ”It would be nice if we didn’t have to do all the stress and drama at the end. That would be nice.”

Running Backs (B) –Without starting running back Latavius Murray, the ground game was left in the hands of rookie running backs DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard, and fullback Jamize Olawale.

The trio registered just 23 carries for 89 yards on the ground, with Richard leading the group with only 31 yards on eight carries.

Washington rushed for 23 yards on a team-leading nine carries. Olawale (six carries and tied for a team-high six catches) was the only back to score, a 1-yard plunge in the fourth quarter that gave Oakland a 34-24 lead.

Offensive line (C-) – After not giving up a sack last week in Baltimore and keeping Carr upright, the unit gave up three sacks to San Diego Sunday.

Rookie defensive end Joey Bosa, who was making his NFL debut after missing San Diego’s first four games, found himself getting well acquainted with Carr, sacking Carr twice.

Linebacker Jatavis Brown recorded a sack for San Diego.

Wide Receivers (A) – It took five games, but wide receiver Amari Cooper finally got into the end zone Sunday.

Cooper had his best game of the season, catching six passes for 138 yards, and a touchdown. Cooper blew past Chargers’ strong safety Adrian Phillips down San Diego’s sideline for a 64-yard score.

The Raiders’ second-year wide receiver was targeted a team-high 12 times Sunday, and now leads the team in targets (44), yards (456, pacing fifth in the league among wide receivers), and is second to teammate Michael Crabtree for the team lead in receptions (29 to 26).

Crabtree finished with three catches and 47 yards Sunday, but hauled in his fifth touchdown catch of the year. Crabtree is tied with Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown for the most touchdown catches in the league with five.

In 21 games with Oakland since 2015, Crabtree has recorded at least three catches in all games played and his 13 touchdowns from the start of last season are tied for sixth in the league over that span.

Oakland’s 32nd ranked defense had another tough day, giving up 423 yards of total offense to a Chargers team that was missing star wide receiver Keenan Allen and versatile running back Danny Woodhead. Allen and Woodhead both were lost for the season with torn ACL’s.

Even in the win, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio wasn’t happy with his defense’s performance, Del Rio called out his defense, saying that they need to “Stop playing Santa Claus. Stop giving out presents.”

Defensive Line (B) – Defensive tackles Stacy McGee (1.5 sacks) and Dan Williams (0.5 sack), were key in stopping Melvin Gordon and the Chargers’ ground game.

McGee forced two of San Diego’s five fumbles on the day.

Oakland’s defensive front limited the former Wisconsin Badger to 16 carries for 69 yards rushing.

Linebackers (A) – Newly signed linebacker Perry Riley, Jr. played great in his debut in Silver & Black, leading the team with seven tackles (six solo).

The former Washington linebacker started next to rookie Corey James for the injured Malcolm Smith. Smith, who did suit up, was active but didn’t play any snaps.

Riley Jr. will get a lot of playing time and could possible remain the starter if Smith’s injury continues to derail his season.

Secondary (C-) – The “gifts” that Raiders head coach might be referring to is the abundance of passing yards the secondary has given up game after game, as evident of the 356 yards and four touchdowns that San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers threw on the rebuilt unit.

Free agent addition Sean Smith intercepted his second pass of the season and rookie Karl Joseph recorded both his first interception and fumble recovery, but Oakland couldn’t stop the Chargers wide receivers.

David Amerson, rated as the best cornerback in the league according to Pro Football Focus, was burned by wide receiver Tyrell Williams for a 29-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter that gave San Diego a 7-3 lead.

Williams and fellow wide receiver Travis Benjamin had 117 receiving yards each, while combining for 12 catches.

Oakland is surrendering 330 yards per game through the air per game, which is dead last and that needs to improve.

Special Teams (A-) – Kicker Sebastian Janikowski accounted for 14 points on 4-of-5 field goals on the day, while punter Marquette King had three punts for an average of 41.3 yards per punt.

The Raiders welcome another bitter division rival, the Kansas City Chiefs (2-2), next Sunday at 1:25 p.m. PT.

Kansas City was on a bye week.




Oakland Raiders-San Diego Chargers preview: Raiders host Chargers in AFC West battle

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

AP file photo: Oakland Raiders Michael Crabtree (15) runs a pass route against the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday Crabtree who scored three touchdowns is looking forward to the challenge of the San Diego Chargers next Sunday

OAKLAND, Calif — It’s been three weeks since Raider Nation has seen their team up close, and the last time the Silver & Black were at the Oakland Coliseum, their home opener, they lost to the Atlanta Falcons 35-28 in Week 2 dropping Oakland’s record to 1-1.

After playing three of their first four games on the road, Oakland (3-1), will play their next two games at home, both against AFC West opponents, first hosting the San Diego Chargers Sunday in Week 5 action at 1:25 p.m. PT.

Oakland welcomes the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 16 (Week 6).

The Raiders slipped by the Ravens, 28-27, in Baltimore last Sunday.

Quarterback Derek Carr, as cool as a cucumber, drove Oakland 66 yards in six plays, and found wide receiver Michael Crabtree tip-toeing the back of the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown with 2:12 left in the fourth quarter.

The third-year quarterback from Fresno State has played more like a 10-year veteran during the first month of the season,  throwing for 1,066 yards, nine touchdowns, to just one interception.

“He is a guy that is very well-prepared,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said via “He’s really, I think, taken a step forward in terms of emotional control, the poise to be, kind of, surgeon-like and just be accurate with the ball and let his playmakers do their thing.”

Crabtree, who is off to a tremendous start to the season as well, dominated the Ravens’ second-ranked defense, scoring three touchdowns on seven catches for 88 yards.

The eight-year veteran from Texas Tech has become Carr’s big-play guy, leading the Raiders in receptions (26), touchdowns (4), and is second behind fellow wide out Amari Cooper (318) in receiving yards with 308.

Rookies are being thrust into live action for Oakland, especially as injuries begin to pile up.

The Raiders’ fifth-ranked rushing attack could be down a man Sunday, as starter Latavius Murray (toe) is not expected to play, so Oakland will rely heavily on rookie running backs DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

Washington, who will likely start, is second on the team with 147 rushing yards on 23 carries, while Richard is third with 144 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries.

Middle linebacker Ben Heeney and tight end Lee Smith, who were both placed on season-ending injured reserve this week, will rely on rookie middle linebacker Corey James to fill Heeney’s void.

James, who took over for Heeney during Oakland’s 17-10 road victory in Tennessee during Week 3, recorded a team-high 15 tackles (3 assisted) in Week 4.

Smith, who was key in Oakland’s ground game with his strong blocking, leaves those duties to second-year tight end Clive Walford and fourth-year tight end, Mychal Rivera

The offensive line has been dealing with some injuries at tackle with Menelik Watson and Austin Howard. Rookie Vadal Alexander stepped in against Baltimore and solidified a unit that didn’t allow a sack in the game to a Ravens team that entered Week 4 with six sacks.

San Diego (1-3) travel to Northern California as a broken down team,  blowing three leads in the fourth quarter in the team’s final five minutes of the game this season.

The Chargers blew a 13-point second half lead in a 35-34 loss to the New Orleans Saints, thanks to fumbles by wide receiver Travis Benjamin and running back Melvin Gordon.

Benjamin, who signed with San Diego in the offseason following four years in Cleveland, leads the Chargers with 21 catches for 277 and two touchdowns.

San Diego’s season has been decimated by injuries, with 14 players on injured reserve.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries have taken out top-flight wide receiver Keenan Allen and running back  Danny Woodhead on the offensive side, but that doesn’t seem to bother Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

Despite all of the season-ending injuries, and with security blanket in tight end Antonio Gates dealing with a hamstring injury, Rivers has continued to put up arcade-like numbers throwing for 1,110 yards, seven touchdowns, and just one interception.

Rivers’s 104.5 passer rating ranks seventh in the league behind Carr’s 104.6, while engineering an offense that averages 30.2 points per game.

Defensively, San Diego lost star linebacker Manti Te’o (Achilles) in the third game of the season, but linebackers Denzel Perryman and Jatavis Brown have filled in nicely combining for 44 tackles and two sacks.

The loss of Pro Bowl cornerback Jason Verrett for the season with a partially torn ACL really hurts San Diego’s pass defense, especially against Cooper and Crabtree.

Cornerback Casey Hayward has recorded three of the team’s six interceptions, while outside linebacker Melvin Ingram is the team leader with three sacks.

On paper, Oakland should dominate San Diego, but Rivers, who is 14-6 with 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions for his career against the Raiders, is the quarterback who can prevent Oakland from earning their first win at home Sunday if he gets hot.

Oakland took both meetings last year against San Diego.


Raiders, Chargers get set for battle in San Diego

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — With the losing streak (dating back to last season) reaching 15 games, the Silver & Black will look to end the continuous losing as they head to San Diego for an AFC West battle with the Chargers Sunday. Kickoff is at 1:05 p.m. PDT.

Oakland (0-9), were demolished at home by the reigning AFC Champion Denver Broncos 41-17 in Week 10. Offensively, the Raiders were in a funk, finishing with 222 total yards and 10 first downs while only managing to convert 5-of-18 (27%) on third down.

Raiders signal caller Derek Carr struggled, completing 30-of-47 passes for 192 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. According to Raiders Insider, Scott Bair, the coaching staff thought about pulling Carr in the fourth quarter with the game out of hand.

“I should be out there no matter what, good, bad or ugly,” Carr said. “For a long time, it was ugly. For me, it was really important to continue to finish. I’m all about finishing, so it was really important to me to go out there and finish. I’m glad that they kept their guys in, because I would have been mad if they weren’t. I wanted to go out there and compete one last time and just try and correct the things we’d been trying to correct all game.”

Defensively, Oakland showed a glimmer of hope early in the game forcing two turnovers (both interceptions) off of Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning that helped Oakland take a 10-6 lead in the second quarter. But, it was short-lived.

Manning regrouped and took apart Oakland’s 24th ranked defense, tossing for 340 yards and five touchdowns while completing 31-0f-44 passes.

“They’re looking for the gold at the end of the rainbow and it hasn’t been there,” Oakland’s interim head coach Tony Sparano said after the game. “We have to stay the course and believe in the things that we’re doing and we’re getting better as a football team. I know this is not an indicator of that.”

Sunday won’t get any easier for Oakland, especially against a Chargers team that are coming off an embarrassing 37-0 Week 9 drubbing at the hands of the Miami Dolphins in South Florida.

San Diego (5-4), are looking to complete a sweep of the season series over Oakland. The Bolts defeated the Raiders, 31-28 in Oakland on Oct. 12. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns.

For the season, Rivers has 20 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. It is Rivers’ ninth consecutive season with at least 20 touchdown passes.

Players to Watch

Oakland, LB, Sio Moore. Moore has emerged as one of the few bright spots on a Raiders defense that has been bitten hard by the injury bug. The second-year outside linebacker is tied with teammate Miles Burris for the team lead with 61 tackles. Moore recorded seven tackles in the Week 6 loss to the Chargers.

San Diego, RB, Branden Oliver. Oliver torpedoed the Raiders back in Week 6, rushing for 101 yards on 26 carries including the game-winning one-yard touchdown run with 1:56 left to play.


Carr’s 4 TDs not enough as Chargers slip by Raiders

Raiders show grit, and progress, but can’t get into the win column.

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND, Calif — Chargers running back Branden Oliver’s 1-yard plunge with 1:56 remaining soured interim Raiders head coach’s Tony Sparano’s debut, as San Diego pulled away from Oakland, 31-28 Sunday in front of a Raider Nation crowd of 53,329 at Coliseum.

“We have to be in these kinds of football games,” interim Raiders head coach Tony Sparano said. “We have to win one of these types of football games and that’s how you get this thing turned around.”

Oakland (0-5), got on the board in a hurry in the first quarter, when wide receiver Andre Holmes beat Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers for a 77-yard touchdown pass from Carr on the team’s third play from scrimmage. It was Oakland’s longest scoring pass since 2008, when former quarterback JaMarcus Russell connected with tight end Zach Miller for an 86-yard touchdown.

Carr completed 18-of-34 passes for 282 yards, and a career-high four touchdowns, but threw a deep pass to wide receiver Brice Butler that was intercepted by rookie cornerback Jason Verrett with 1:13 remaining in the fourth quarter to preserve San Diego’s fifth straight win.

“He made a great play,” Carr said. “Brice went up, he had it and the guy made a great play. Those things are going to happen. Yeah, it hurts. It hurts because that’s the way it ended.”

San Diego quickly answered with a touchdown of their own, when quarterback Philip Rivers took San Diego 80 yards on seven plays in 4:30 that ended with a 29-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline to wide receiver Eddie Royal that knotted up the game at 7-7 in the first quarter.

After both teams traded a pair of stalled drives to end the first quarter, San Diego took a 14-7 lead when Rivers engineered a 13-play, 85-yard drive in 7:20 to toss his second touchdown of the game, a five-yard completion to wide receiver Malcolm Floyd midway through the second quarter.

Oakland tied the game up at 14-14, after Carr found wide receiver James Jones from six yards out. It was Carr’s second touchdown pass of the game at that point. The Raiders had a chance to take a three-point lead at halftime, but kicker Sebastian Janikowski missed a 54-yard field goal as time expired.

On Oakland’s first possession of the third quarter, Carr threw his third touchdown of the game when he found Butler for 47 yards that gave the Raiders a 21-14 lead.

Not to be outdone, Rivers threw his third touchdown of the game (an 8-play, 80-yard drive; San Diego’s third 80-yard drive of the game), that resulted into a 1-yard pass to tight end Antonio Gates that tied the game at 21-21 with 2:45 left in the third quarter.

Rivers completed 22-of-34 passes for 313 yards, and three touchdowns, his third straight game with three touchdown passes. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Rivers became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards against Oakland, joining John Elway, Dan Fouts, John Hadl, and Dave Kreig.

Carr and the Raiders took a 28-21 lead midway through the fourth quarter, behind Carr’s fourth touchdown of the game to Holmes for six yards. It was Holmes’ second touchdown of the game, finishing with four catches, for 121 yards to lead all receivers.

Nick Novak booted a 30-yard field goal to pull San Diego closer, 28-24, before the aforementioned Oliver’s go-ahead touchdown that increased the Chargers’ lead for good.

With running back Ryan Matthews and Donald Brown both out with injuries, Oliver looks to be the Chargers new featured running back after picking up his second-straight 100-yard rushing game with 101 yards on 26 carries. The rookie from the University of Buffalo rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in San Diego’s 31-0 thumping of the New York Jets in Week 5.

Floyd finished with five catches for 105 yards receiving and a touchdown to lead the Chargers.

Running back Darren McFadden ran the ball hard, rushing for 80 yards on 14 carries (his highest output of the season), while fellow running back Maurice Jones-Drew chipped in 30 yards on four carries to the lead the ground game for the Silver and Black.

San Diego (5-1) sits alone atop of the AFC West and are tied with the Dallas Cowboys (5-1 after their 30-23 road victory over the reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks Sunday), for the best record in the NFL.

Defensively, Oakland played gritty, but couldn’t hold a fourth quarter lead that results in the team’s 10th straight loss dating back to last season.  San Diego’s offense kept Oakland’s defense on the field, controlling the football for 37 minutes.

“The goal is to win the game,”  linebacker Sio Moore said. “We didn’t do that. We didn’t execute in the last bit of plays when we needed to, how we needed to.

“It’s a very sick feeling because we let a team off the hook that’s not supposed to be let off the hook. They’re not what they’re acclaimed to be, whatever the situation is. I’m pretty pissed about it.”

Moore finished with a team-leading seven tackles (3 assisted), strong safety Usama Young had six tackles, and defensive end C.J. Wilson recorded the Raiders lone sack.

“This group played with a lot of energy…we are going to continue to work our tails off and get better,” Sparano added.

The Raiders host NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals (4-1), who are coming off a 30-20 home victory over hapless Washington Sunday, in Week 7.





Raiders begin Sparano era with San Diego coming to Oakland

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

ALAMEDA — Coming off a much needed bye where Oakland fired head coach Dennis Allen and named offensive line coach Tony Sparano interim head coach,  the Oakland Raiders look to get into the win column as they will host the San Diego Chargers Sunday at Coliseum. Kickoff is at 1:05 p.m. PDT.

Oakland, (0-4), has been dreadful offensively through the first quarter of the season, ranking last in points scored per game (12.8), total yards per game (270), and rushing yards per game (61.5). Opponents have outscored the Raiders 103-51.

Quarterback Derek Carr, who suffered a sprained ankle and MCL during Oakland’s brutal loss to Miami 38-14 in London, should be a go on Sunday after the week off.

Carr is slowly developing into a quarterback in the NFL, completing 84-of-133 passes for 734 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions in his four starts this season. The Raiders signal caller maybe in for a tough day as he is set to face a stingy Chargers defense that ranks third in the NFL in total defense.

Running backs Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden have been virtually non-existent this season. MJD and McFadden need to find a way to take some of the pressure off Carr and run the ball better than their 1.1 and 3.3 yards per carry average (respectively) have shown.

Defensively, the Raiders will be in trouble Sunday.

Oakland has just four sacks this season, one from the defensive line. Strong safety Tyvon Branch, who leads the team with 30 tackles, is done for the season after three games with a fractured foot.

The team just placed linebacker Nick Roach on season-ending injured reserve due to lingering concussion symptoms.Roach suffered a concussion against the Green Bay Packers on Aug. 22 during the exhibition season.

It would be nice to see Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver get more pressure out of defensive end Justin Tuck, defensive tackle Antonio Smith, and linebacker LaMarr Woodley. These were the guys (along with cornerbacks Terrell Brown and Carlos Rogers), that were suppose to add some much needed punch to a pedestrian defense.

San Diego has been red hot, winners of four straight and sit atop the AFC West at 4-1; a big reason for the Chargers great start has been because of the play quarterback Philip Rivers.

Rivers is off to one of his best starts in his 11 years in the NFL, ranking near the top of the list among the game’s best quarterbacks in passing yards (1,443), touchdown-to-interception ratio (12/2), and passer rating (116.3).

Players to Watch:

Oakland – QB Derek Carr. It will be interesting to see how Carr will perform Sunday coming off the injury he sustained before the bye week. Carr will be working in another wide receiver to the mix, after the Raiders claimed former New England Patriots WR, Kenbrell Thompkins Monday.

San Diego – QB Philip Rivers. No question that Rivers has reestablish himself as a premier quarterback. Rivers is coming off back-to-back three touchdown passing performances and will be looking for his favorite target, TE Antonio Gates down the middle of the field where Oakland has been vulnerable all season.


Chargers invade Oakland under the lights Sunday night


by Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — For the second time in three weeks, the Oakland Raiders will play under the lights, when they host their AFC West divisional foe, the San Diego Chargers, Sunday at Coliseum at the special time of 8:35 p.m. PT, instead of the previously scheduled 1:25 p.m. PT, due to the MLB playoff game Saturday night between the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland Athletics.

Oakland (1-3), will have starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor back under center. Pryor sat out Oakland’s 24-14 home loss to the Washington Redskins after suffering a concussion against the Denver Broncos in Week 3.

Backup quarterback Matt Flynn, who was demoted to the third string quarterback behind rookie Matt McGloin this week by head coach Dennis Allen, started in place for the injured Pryor and didn’t look like the quarterback that Oakland sent two draft picks to the Seattle Seahawks this past offseason.

Flynn did finish 21-of-32 for 227 yards passing, one touchdown and one interception that was returned for a touchdown. Washington’s defense feasted on Flynn, sacking him seven times. Its no secret that Oakland’s offensive line has more holes than Swiss cheese, but there were times in the game that Flynn had guys wide open and decided to take the sack, even when the offensive line gave him time to throw.

The fact that Flynn’s starting backfield of running back Darren McFadden (hamstring) and full back Marcel Reece (knee), were knocked out the game made the task of leading Oakland to victory that much tougher. McFadden hasn’t practice this week and his status for Sunday remains in the air. Reece has been limited in practice this week, as well as starting center Stefan Wisniewski, who emerged from the Washington game with a knee strain.

Backup running back Rashad Jennings filled in admirably, finishing with 116 yards of total offense (45 rushing, 71 receiving), and rookie tight end Mychal Rivera scored his first touchdown, an 18-yard reception.

San Diego (2-2) is coming off a big win at home over the Dallas Cowboys, 30-21 and will pose a mighty challenge for Oakland.

Quarterback Philip Rivers has been playing lights out this season. Rivers has thrown for 1,199 yards, 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Rivers 11 touchdowns ranks second in the NFL behind Denver Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning.

Against Dallas, Rivers was 35-of-42 for 401 yards passing, three touchdowns and one interception finishing with a 120.3 quarterback rating.

After nagging injuries have crippled his performance the last couple of years, perennial All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates appears to be healthier than ever this season. Gates continues to be Rivers’ most trusted target, racking up 25 catches for 364 yards receiving and two touchdowns in four games this season.

Gates finished with 10 catches for 136 yards, including the go-ahead 56-yard touchdown catch over the middle of the field against the Cowboys in San Diego last week.

Oakland ranks 17th in the NFL in defense and will have its hands full against San Diego’s eighth-ranked offense, who are averaging 27 points per game.

San Diego swept the season series against Oakland last year and hold a 57-47-2 edge all-time against the Silver and Black.

Players to Watch for San Diego:

  • No. 17) Philip Rivers (QB) — Rivers is enjoying a renaissance of a season under new head coach Mike McCoy. McCoy is an offensive mind and has given Rivers a renewed sense of confidence and Rivers is off to the best start of his career.
  • No. 39) Danny Woodhead (RB) — Woodhead isn’t a household name (or the Chargers starting running back), but is a proven chain mover and another trusted option for Rivers. Woodhead had five catches for 54 yards and two touchdowns against Dallas.
  • No. 85) Antonio Gates (TE) — With no legitimate No. 1 wide receiver, Gates is clearly Rivers’ first option on first, second, third and even fourth downs. Gates lost 25 pounds in the offseason and is faster and harder to bring down in the open field. Raiders’ defense has to make sure that they know where Gates is lined up at all times.

Players to Watch for Oakland:

  • No. 2) Terrelle Pryor (QB) — Pryor’s return to the line up gives Oakland’s 20th ranked offense an instant jolt. Pryor is completing 65% of his passes this season, and leads all quarterbacks with 198 rushing yards.
  • No. 17) Denarius Moore (WR) — Moore is Oakland’s leading wide receiver and gives Oakland the opportunity to stretch the field on San Diego. Moore has 15 catches for 233 yards and two touchdowns, Moore is averaging 15.5 yards per catch this season.
  • No. 99) Lamarr Houston (DE) — Houston is Oakland’s best pass rusher and it’s most active. Houston along with fellow defensive end Jason Hunter, leads the team with two sacks. Oakland will need to create a serious pass rush against Rivers and Co. Sunday.