It was bad enough the Raiders were battling their own offensive problems but when they have to battle those issues with their backs to their own endzone, it makes for a near impossible situation.
That's what Chargers punter Mike Scifres did to the Raiders Sunday. He constantly launched bombs into at Raiders' return man Denarius Moore that were near impossible for him to do anything with. They were what is typically referred to as ‘coffin corner' kicks and they very much buried the Raiders offense to begin their drives.
Scifres had nine punts in the game and five of them landed inside the 20-yard line. Every time he had the chance to pin the Raiders deep, he nailed that coffin shut.
His five opportunities to pin the Raiders deep went like this: Downed at the 6-yard line; Raiders go three and out, downed at the 8-yard line plus holding penalty starts drive at 4-yard line; Raiders go three-and-out, punt to 9-yard line returned to 13-yard line; Raiders go three-and-out, downed at the 2-yard line; Raiders put together a good drive but still couldn't cover the 98-yard distance to score.
"He was huge," Raiders head coach Tony Sparano said of Scifres. "At one point in the game I honestly, I turned around and was like this guy is legitimately swinging the game single-handedly at times. With the way he was kicking the ball, it was huge. The ball's knocking down there inside the five-yard line and you're starting drives down there. And when your yards aren't coming easily and your starting drives are with your back against the wall like that it makes it really difficult, specifically when you're on the road like this. We dug a couple of them out of there but we weren't able to do much out of that. We had a couple drives there that fell short, kinda stopped ourselves sometimes in those situations. But he was really big in the game."
As frustrating as it was for Sparano and the Raiders offense, it was equal parts impressive. His head coach, Mike McCoy glowed about the job his punter did against a Raiders team that was hanging around, down just a score much of the game.
"Outstanding," McCoy said of his punter. "Pinning them deep in a game like that when you're playing field position is outstanding. When you're pinning them back there, there's a different mentality as a quarterback sometimes when you're pinned back there deep, knowing what could happen if there's pressure on you. An outstanding job."
That many times being pinned deep to begin drives is something Derek Carr said he can't recall ever happening to him. There's a lot of pressure on the rookie quarterback as it is, without having to worry about climbing an uphill battle just to get into decent field position.
The final drive of the game, Scifres put the ball inside the 20-yard line one more time. Though it traveled just 28 yards, the Raiders began at their own 12-yard line. Then the Chargers sacked Carr for a nine-yard loss. With the offense in 2nd and 19 with :39 seconds to go 97 yards, that last coffin corner kick buried the Raiders once and for all.
On top of all that, Denarius Moore had three returns for a total of seven yards. He also had a fair catch.
The Raiders know a thing or two about great punters. They had the first, greatest punter in NFL history -- Ray Guy -- who was just inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They also had statistically the best punter ever for 13 seasons -- Shane Lechler.
These days they deploy Marquette King, who has a big leg and has improved his placement, but he does not have near the kind of pinpoint placement punts in his repertoire that we witnessed today. This game must have been somewhat of a master class for him.