Oakland Raiders Go Full Jekyll And Hyde In Win Over Chargers


For the Oakland Raiders, the most important point is that they walked out of Qualcomm Stadium with a big win over division rival San Diego. And to be sure, it was a very good, very important win for a team desperate to claw their way back to respectability and relevancy. But as good of a win as it was, there are some things to be concerned about coming away from it.

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For the Raiders, it was a tale of two halves. In the first half, they were the smooth, suave Dr. Jekyll. They came out and overwhelmed the Chargers on both sides of the ball. The Raiders’ defense smothered San Diego’s offense from the start. They were flying to the ball, snuffing out screen passes, crushing the Chargers running game, harassed San Diego quarterback on almost every play, and forced him into two costly interceptions that led to ten points for the Silver and Black.

On the offensive side of the ball, Dr. Jekyll was cool, efficient, and entirely explosive. Whether it was Latavius Murray or Taiwan Jones ripping off big runs, or Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper, and Clive Walford hauling in crisp, sharp passes from Derek Carr, the Raiders’ offensive machine couldn’t be stopped. They got almost whatever they wanted from the San Diego defense, scoring on their first seven possessions on their way to building a 37-6 lead over their rivals to the south.

But following Crabtree’s 25 yard catch and run touchdown early in the third quarter, Mr. Hyde made an appearance – and stayed for the remainder of the game. Mr. Hyde, in this instance, came in the form of conservative, predictable, and incredibly ineffective play calling.

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  • One the Raiders had built a 31 point lead, OC Bill Musgrave and DC Ken Norton seemed to throttle back and seemed content to coast for the remainder of the game. After bottling up Rivers and the Chargers offense for almost three quarters of play, that return to vanilla offense and defense allowed the Chargers to gain some momentum and made the score a lot closer than it should have been.

    Thanks to softer offensive and defensive scheme that seemed designed more “not to lose” than to win the game, San Diego ripped off a ton of yards and put up a lot of points in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Raiders 23-0 in the period.

    For the game, San Diego amassed 417 total yards of offense. Philip Rivers passed for 336 yards on 38 of 58 passing – and three scores. And the majority of that damage came when the Raiders throttled back and tried to cruise to the finish line.

    Mr. Hyde almost made a complete mess of the masterpiece Dr. Jekyll had spent the majority of the day painting.

    They used an aggressive, in your face, attack on both offense and defense for much of the game. The physicality that Oakland played with, the aggressiveness, and the sustained pressure they applied overwhelmed the Chargers. It flustered them. It rendered them ineffective. In short, the intensity the Raiders played with until Crabtree’s touchdown in the third quarter pretty well neutered Rivers and company.

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    And then the Raiders moved away from that approach.

    The Raiders, for as amazingly well as they played today, for as utterly dominant as they were for most of the game, are a team that absolutely cannot afford to put it in neutral and coast to the finish line. This is a team that must learn how to finish. When an opponent is down, this team needs to learn how to finish them off.

    The last thing they can afford to do is get into the habit of letting an opponent hang around, chipping away and chipping away at any lead they’ve built. Thankfully, they’d built a lead that was insurmountable for the Chargers today. But what happens if the next time, the lead they build isn’t so substantial when Musgrave and Norton downshift and slip into “hang on and don’t lose” mode?

    The final score of 37-29 made it look closer than it was. But it was also far closer than it needed to be. This Raiders team scored a big win today, but they need to learn that when they have their foot on an opponent’s throat, that they need to crush it. And that starts with the coaching staff.

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    This team played well for most of the game. And when they are able to put together a dominant sixty minutes of football, they are going to be something special. They made quite the statement on Sunday. But learning how to absolutely bury an opponent will put the exclamation point on that statement.

    In the end, it was a win. And that’s the most important thing for this club. It wasn’t pretty, but they’re not playing for style points. As Al Davis would say, “Just Win, Baby.” And that, they did.