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.


Palmer, Cardinals visits Oakland for Sunday encounter

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND, Calif — As one of the two winless teams remaining in the NFL (Jacksonville is 0-6), the 0-5 Oakland Raiders will try to breakthrough into the win column again as they take on the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals at Coliseum Sunday at 1:25 p.m. PDT.

The Silver and Black are coming off a hard-fought 31-28 loss to their AFC West rivals, the San Diego Chargers, at Coliseum in Week 6 where the team played tough for all four quarters, but couldn’t give interim head coach Tony Sparano his first win after taking over for the fired Dennis Allen.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had his best game as a rookie, completing 16-of-25 passes for 282 yards, and four touchdowns, but it was his lone interception to Chargers rookie cornerback Jason  Verrett with 1:13 left to play that sealed Oakland’s 10th straight loss dating back to last season.

“He made a great play,” Carr said. “Brice [Butler] 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.”

Defensively, Oakland got good games from linebacker Sio Moore, who led the team with seven tackles (three assisted), and strong safety Usama Young, who finished with six tackles.

“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.”

Arizona (4-1), has gotten off to a hot start this season, sitting in first place in the ultra-competitive NFC West.

Former Raiders’ starting  quarterback Carson Palmer returns to the Black Hole to lead a Cardinals team that are coming off a 30-20 home victory against Washington in Week 6.

Palmer returned under center for Arizona last week after missing the previous five weeks with nerve issues in his throwing arm, and threw two touchdowns — one to Michael Floyd, the other to Larry Fitzgerald — to lead Arizona to victory.

“I’m not going to say I wasn’t nervous or wasn’t a little on edge,” Palmer said post game per the Associated Press, “just going into a game and really only have a quarter or maybe a half of a practice over the last five weeks.”

The Cardinals come in with some weapons that will pose some serious problems for the Raiders.

In addition to the emerging Floyd, and the Canton-bound Fitzgerald, Arizona has speedster in rookie wide receiver, John Brown. Brown leads the team with three touchdown catches.

Running back Andre Ellington has been a huge bright spot for the Cardinals this season. Ellington is a shifty runner who has a knack of ripping off big runs and with a Raiders team that is suspect against the run, Ellington is the wrong running back you want to face.

Cornerback Patrick Peterson and Jerraud Powers leads a Cardinal defense that ranks 32nd against the pass, giving up 309 yards per game this season.

Powers is tied for the league lead in interceptions with three.

Players to Watch:

Oakland: WR, Andre Holmes. Carr appeared to have found a connection with Holmes. Carr found Holmes for a 77-yard touchdown on the Raiders’ third play of the game against San Diego. Holmes finished the game with four catches, for a game-high 121 yards, and could be emerging as the Raiders’ No. 1 wide receiver.

Arizona: WR, Larry Fitzgerald . Did it really take  five games for the Cardinals’ franchise leader in receptions (846), receiving yards (11,367), and touchdowns (87), to have a his best game of the year? The answer, yes. Fitzgerald finished with six catches for 98 yards and a touchdown in the win against Washington, after not finding the endzone.

Coming into the game, Fitzgerald was averaging just three catches and 41 yards per game and no touchdowns.