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A Glorious Look Back

Aww, he's sad.
Aww, he's sad.

This was really the first game that was a joy to re-watch this year. Here are a few fun bullet points before moving onto next weeks game against that other Bay Area team with a way, way, way worse record.

The Positive Pile

  • Masters of the Inches
  • This team still makes dumb mistakes, but they are not for lack of effort and that effort is winning them the game of inches. Nowhere was this more evident on three fumble plays.
  • The first was one sliding under the radar. On the Raiders last scoring drive, Zach Miller fumbled. He may have been down he may not have. It didn't matter though, because Jacoby Ford recovered it. Ford was roughly 15 yards down-field from Miller when he caught it, but he came running back looking for someone to block even though Miller was getting tackled by 14 or 15 Chargers. He was just kind of bouncing around trying to figure out how to make himself useful when the ball came out. Then he stole the Chargers thunder and beat 3 of them to the ground and the ball to recover.
  • The Unholy Roller: Daniel Loper...this is the only way an offensive lineman should ever advance the ball. A heads up play displaying the team's do-what-it-takes attitude.
  • The other has not slid under the radar. Tom Cable pointed it out in his Q&A and TheRaiderWay posted it below. The Raiders defense was hungry for blood and it showed on that play. First, when the ball came out there were roughly 12 Raiders and Chargers closer to the ball than Tyvon Branch. Only one Charger went for it, while Tommy Kelly was diving and Branch were flying for it. Noticing this, Chris Johnson lit up the Charger going for the ball and Branch beat Kelly to the ball. There was literally a circle of 3 Chargers just standing around watching--all of whom, could have had the angle on Branch had they not been standing around. The one Charger who did try to get the angle was Rivers and he was alertly blocked by Huff. Rivers responded by throwing his arms in the air and whining for a block in the back. That play was a thing of beauty. The Chargers were Raiderhandled.
  • John Marshal
  • I've never been a big Marshal supporter and not many have. While the D was torched for something like 880 passing yards, the Chargers didn't get any when they needed them and that was due to Marshal dialing up effective blitzes.
  • Marshall also showed a creative use of his players. Limited by injuries, Marshall got the most out of the players he had. Scott and Wimbley saw double duty as LBs and DEs. They got effective pressure as DEs in passing downs and they were rock solid in run support. Mike Mitchell got double duty as DB and LB in passing situations. So...
  • Mike Mitchell
  • He guarded Gates better than anyone and he was solid in run D. He might have scored a TD on his fumble recovery had Houston not been hugging him.
  • Matt Shaughnessy
  • He played like a Pro Bowler. He was great rushing the passer and in run support. The Chargers spent most of the first half running to his side and he continually held his ground and forced the RBs to the outside and twice made the tackle himself for a loss.
  • Jason Campbell
  • Campbell showed what a professional he is. He came into the game prepared and ready to prove himself. He did this not once, but twice. It would have been easy for him to have adopted a laissez-faire attitude.
  • Not that you'd expect any player to go into a game and look like they don't care, but a lot of players would stop practicing or putting in the effort away from the game. Given Campbell's improvements from his first six quarters, I think it is safe to say that he has not changed his approach to his craft.
  • Michael Bush
  • It was really considerate of McFadden and Bush to time their injuries like this. When the coaches said these two guys would share the load, I don't think this is exactly what they had in mind, but what the hell it is working.
  • McFadden had been performing at a Pro Bowl level and Michael Bush kept the bar at the same level. They have different styles, but the results are the same.
  • Zach Miller
  • Zach's awareness of and ability to get to the first down marker is amazing. He'll go around you or he'll go through you.
  • What a catch on the TD! It was a Dwight Clarkesque play. It was a great play by Campbell as well, but I am not sure he had to throw it quite that hard.
  • Sebastian Janikowski
  • Since his and our nightmare, SeaBass has been better than ever. All but one of his kickoffs, that weren't squibs, has been at least four yards in the endzone. His 50 yard field goal was as straight and pure a kick as you'll ever see.
  • Nick Miller
  • He Played! Obviously, Miller's practice reputation scared the Chargers special teams. They weren't concerned about blocking, they just wanted to tackle Nick.
  • When he did get a punt return, he made the most of it. Somehow JLH still managed to screw up the return game. He didn't block the punter to a side and instead just hesitated and went straight on.
  • Richard Seymour
  • A healthy Dick is a good Dick.
  • San Diego Chargers
  • Thank you Norv and co. for the second half play calling. They sent no pressure on Campbell. Most pass plays he was facing a 3 or 4 man rush. They allowed him to get comfortable.
  • The offensive play calls on the Chargers second to last drive were a gift. It became obvious the Raiders were going to be blitzing hard. Yet the Chargers didn't spread the Raiders out or try to get Gates or Sproles on a quick hitter.
  • Things Masked By Victory

    • The Big Plays
    • Again the Raiders had two plays, this time in pass D, where they try to hand the opponents TDs. Thankfully, Rivers overthrew one of them.
    • Pass Coverage Secondary
    • Too many instances of confusion in assignments. Chris Johnson looks a little confused, which given the time he missed is somewhat understandable, but he needs to improve in assignment recognition.
    • Pass Coverage LBs
    • The Chargers are a tough task for any LBs with Sproles and Gates, but the LB were continually not even close. It was what was feared when the LB corp was expected to be Wimbley, Scott and McClain.
    • Clock/TO management
    • Some plays the Raiders just seem lost. It is hard to tell if they aren't getting the play soon enough or if guys aren't lining up right, but this needs to get better. They were lucky when the refs gifted them consecutive TOs, but what the hell? Why would an NFL team ever be confused lining up coming out of a TO?
    • The other issue I had was on their final scoring drive. Once they crossed midfield the Raiders should have begun taking as much time as possible or go in a hurry up mode. Instead they were consistently running plays with 4 to 10 seconds left. They could have killed about another minute of game time.
    • Blocking a 3-4 Pass Rush
    • 2 of the 3 Chargers sacks came virtually untouched as the Raiders were confused as to who to pick up. Veldheer on the first and Carlisle on the second. Overall, the line was as solid as they have been, but the 9ers were fairly vanilla in their pass rush and the Raiders a steady diet of 3-4 teams coming up.