The Oakland Raiders held a 37-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter and the Silver and Black defense was bullying the San Diego Chargers offense. Then, the fourth quarter happened. San Diego put up 23 points in the final quarter, but it doesn't negate the performance of the Raiders defense.
Defensive Line: A-
For the Silver and Black to win this game, they had to win the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball and they did exactly that. The Chargers offense never got a run game going. Philip Rivers never seemed comfortable in the pocket and faced pressure throughout the game. Only thing you would want more of from the D-Line is hits on the quarterback. They disrupted the pocket, but nobody on the line sacked Rivers.
Malcolm Smith set the tone early with an interception that he returned 27 yards and set up the Raiders first score. He led the way with 11 tackles and had the only sack of the game for the Raiders. Curtis Lofton and Aldon Smith were constantly in the Chargers backfield. Rookie Nieron Ball provided solid depth off the bench. A unit that was being picked apart early-on has settled down and found their role on this defense. So, why a B+? There were a few missed assignments late in the game that could be attributed to the linebackers.
A week after throwing for over 500 yards and no interceptions, Philip Rivers threw for 336 yards and was picked off twice. The main target of Raider Nation's venom has been DJ Hayden, but he had what may be the best game of his young career. He was second on the team with 10 tackles and had an early interception. Hayden was given the task of covering Keenan Allen and he held him to 89 yards on 9 receptions and no touchdowns. This unit has been dissected and talked about a lot this season, but kept Rivers and Co. quiet for a majority of Sunday's game.
Defense overall: B+
Special Teams: A
Two weeks after missing multiple field goals, Sebastian Janikowski nailed all three of his field goal attempts. Marquette King didn't punt until midway thru the 3rd quarter and pinned a few punts inside the Chargers 20. Chargers return man, Jacoby Jones, was kept quiet and was a non-factor. It was a solid effort by the special teams unit.