The Oakland Raiders had a great chance to pull off the upset of their Southern California rivals, the San Diego Chargers, and ruin their playoff hopes. They were keeping up with the Chargers for most of the game, but the offense went cold in the second half as the Chargers pulled away. The Raiders held Philip Rivers to one of his lowest passing totals of the year, but they could not slow down the Chargers’ run game. They also beat themselves with penalties and turnovers, as they set themselves up to fail.
Here are the two major factors in the Raiders’ loss at the hands of the San Deigo Chargers:
1. Penalties burn undisciplined Raiders’ team:
It has been a long held belief that the NFL has a grudge against the Raiders’ franchise and its fans. The major evidence that people cling to is the numerous amount of penalties that is called on the Raiders. Raiders’ fans are so blinded by the bias that the Raiders can do no wrong that they always fall back on this asinine notion of an NFL grudge against the team.
The Raiders are just a young, undisciplined that is ranked second in the league penalties against. They have been called for 114 penalties on the season, which ranks behind only Seattle. Most of those penalties are pre-snap offensive penalties, which heavily lean towards false starts and delay of game. Both of these are attributed to being a young team, especially on the road in hostile environments.
On Sunday, the impact of penalties came up huge. The Raiders made some boneheaded mistakes, with Mike Jenkins being the biggest bonehead of them all. Jenkins decided that it would be a good time to smack talk Ryan Matthews after forcing him out of bounds on first down at the Raiders 47-yard line. The refs then hit Jenkins with a 15-yard taunting foul, which moved the Chargers to the Raiders’ 32 with a fresh set of downs. So, instead of second and 10 near midfield the Chargers were set up in scoring range with a first down.
Jenkins was not finished on that drive, as he would hand the Chargers another first down on second and 15 with a defensive holding penalty. The Chargers would score the go-ahead touchdown just three play later.
Jenkins was not the only making mistakes, as the team was called for 12 penalties for 73 yards. You cannot expect to win when you hand the other team nearly a full length in free yards. It is a fixable problem that just requires focus and discipline.
2. San Diego Chargers get their run game going:
The two-headed monster of Ryan Matthews and Danny Woodhead terrorized the Raiders’ defense all-day to the tune of 148 yards. They started slow in the first half, but began to pick up steam in the second.
The ability for the Raiders’ defense to make the Chargers one-dimensional by shutting down the run in their first meeting of the season. The Chargers made an emphasis to get their run game going and it paid off eventually.
The constant three or four yards gained by the running backs allowed the Chargers pick up 24 first downs by setting up a number short second and third down situations. It allowed the Chargers to prolong drives and was a major reason why they dominated the time of possession. It kept the Raiders offense off of the field and never really allowed them the time to get into a rhythm.
The Raiders’ rush defense has taken a major step backwards and it is no surprise that it coincides with their recent losing streak. The Raiders’ defense was good, but was not great. They need to set teams up in third and long situations that limit the options they have and it simplifies the defensive calls for the Raiders. Beefing up the run defense should be a major point of emphasis for the front office this season.