The sunny side was more of a flash bulb this week which gives way to the darker, seedier underbelly that is the Busters. I hope you can handle it.
Chimdi Chekwa, Tracy Porter
Both of these guys had their moments of ugliness in this game. Giving up catches, missing tackles, penalties, you name it. Chekwa made the first mistakes on the first Chargers drive. He missed a tackle to allow a 9-yard screen and then gave up a 14-yard catch on third and 4 to keep the drive alive. It resulted in a field goal and a 3-0 early lead for the Chargers. The drive took over nine minutes off the clock too. On the next Chargers possession, Chekwa gave up a catch and had another missed tackle for a 13-yard gain.
Then it was Porter's turn. On the following drive he was called for holding on third and 8 for an automatic first down. A few plays later on the same drive, he gave up an 18-yard catch. The Chargers would get the ball back at the Raiders 20-yard line after a Matt McGloin interception. The final seven yards came on a cutback run by Ryan Mathews in which the final missed tackle was Porter barely slowing him down on his way into the endzone.
The next time the Chargers saw the ball was the first possession of the third quarter. And just as Porter had done in the second quarter, Chekwa was called for holding on third down to keep a drive alive.
On the next drive, it was hard to tell which one of them gave up the catch but it was for 14 yards to convert yet another third down. Two plays later Chekwa gave up a 9-yard catch. The Chargers would score their second touchdown.
On the Chargers' final scoring drive, Porter missed a tackle in the backfield when he came on a blitz that resulted in a 13-yard run, then Chekwa was caught up in traffic to give up a 22-yard catch, and Porter missed another tackle on a catch on the next play.
In case you weren't counting, between the two of them they gave up 8 catches, 143 yards of offense and a touchdown.
Sixteen penalty flags. How much more really needs to be said? This team is lost. They are twisting in the wind. I really don't want to pile onto DA like this. There are issues on this team that are very much out of his control and there is only so much he can do. These players pressing to make plays and frustrated with the results and in that situation, mistakes are going to be made. The good news is the Raiders at least looked prepared for the Chargers this week. But it wasn't the Chargers they couldn't face, it was themselves. We can place individual blame for these penalties but at some point it becomes much bigger than the sum of its parts. It comes down to discipline and focus. This team hasn't had much of either of those things of late.
The Raiders first drive ended with a three and out thanks in part to McGloin being called for delay of game and then ended the series by throwing a 2-yard pass on third and ten. The next drive began with him holding onto the ball too long and having his arm hit as he threw which was called a sack fumble, recovered by the Raiders. The drive ended when he threw way too long intended of an open Jamize Olawale. It was a terrible play call on third and one but still, if the pass was nearly on target, it could have worked.
He led the Raiders on a touchdown drive to start the second quarter but on the following drive he threw an interception that put the Chargers in business at the Raiders 20-yard line. They would take back the lead a few plays later with a touchdown.
His first possession of the third quarter ended with a dropped pass. The next series started with him throwing low and incomplete on a screen pass to Darren McFadden and ended when he escaped pressure only to throw wide and incomplete intended for Greg Jenkins.
McGloin did everything right on the final drive but he had a touchdown pass wiped away, ruled an incompletion and another long pass negated by an illegal formation penalty. Then he had another touchdown pass on that drive dropped by Marcel Reece to end the game. By then, however, the Raiders had a slim chance of mounting any kind of comeback.
On a series in the second quarter, Veldheer was called for a false start and two plays later was called for holding. It had the Raiders backed up against their own end zone and then McGloin had his interception to set the Chargers up for the touchdown. The very next drive ended with Veldheer giving up a pressure on third down to force McGloin to flee the pocket and make an off-balance throw that fell incomplete. He gave up two QB hurries overall along with the two penalties.
Despite the great many times I have been told I should have had the officials among the Busters, I have never included them. Really because it's kind of like putting a player on the other team here. Officials don't belong in a list of Raiders performances. But I had to make an exception this time. The overall disparity of flags did seem pretty incredible with the Raiders drawing 16 to the Chargers 3, but that isn't even why they're here. I am not going to say they were out to get the Raiders. I also didn't see a lot of bad calls. But I did see three particularly bad calls and all three of them were absolute killers for the Raiders.
The first was the Mile Burris roughing the passer penalty. That by no stretch of the imagination was roughing the passer. He didn't lead with his head, he didn't make contact with his head, he didn't make contact with Phillip Rivers' head, he didn't drive up into his chin, and he didn't hit him late. He came up the middle and right after the ball left Rivers' hand, Burris nailed him with his head on the side of his body and wrapped him to take him down. Textbook. But the refs are apparently reading from the wrong textbook.
It was easily one of the worst calls I have ever seen and that's saying a lot because most roughing the passer penalties are borderline or just plain bad. The penalty happened at the 14-yard line and it gave the Chargers first and goal at the 7-yard line. They scored the touchdown on the next play. Slow, sarcastic clap.
The next bad call came on the Chargers' next touchdown drive. Most probably think I am talking about the apparent illegal pick on Mike Jenkins that freed up Keenan Allen for a wide open touchdown. Nope, that isn't it. That was not a pick. Jenkins left Allen to cover the other receiver expecting Woodson to cover Allen. No pick. You were half right, though. It did involve Jenkins. It was the holding penalty three plays earlier that set them up inside the red zone. There was no hold. The contact was initiated by the receiver and there wasn't even much of it. No cause for a flag on either player.
The third and final call was on what should have been a touchdown catch by Rod Streater. The refs have completely lost touch with what a touchdown catch is to rule that incomplete. Streater got behind his man, made the catch at the goal line, made a football move to cross the goal line, and held onto it to the ground. That is the assignment plus extra credit. And yet there was zero hesitation by the official to call it incomplete and no visual evidence to overturn it which means if it had been ruled a catch on the field, that would have stood as well.
The catch would have left 4:46 on the clock which is plenty of time to hope the defense can get a stop and the Raiders get the ball back with time to try and score again. Instead they had to use all their timeouts and drain the clock trying to move the ball down the field. So even had they finished off the drive, it would have taken an onsides kick and a hail mary to try for the win. That non-catch call was a killer.