After a promising two weeks, the Raiders defense went back to old habits and it almost cost the Silver and Black the game. Despite playing an offense missing multiple key starters, Philip Rivers and the Chargers were able to score 31 points on the road in Oakland. Luckily, the Raiders pulled out the victory but how did the defensive unit grade out?
Imagine a piece of bread. Stick that bread in the toaster for 30 minutes until it catches fire and burns your house down. That piece of extremely burnt toast is the Raiders secondary and the house is the defense. That is how atrocious the Raiders pass defense was against the Chargers. David Amerson who has been one of the best cornerbacks in football this season was getting toasted left and right. So was Reggie Nelson who consistently was beat throughout the game. The only bright spot was that Sean Smith and Karl Joseph each intercepted Philip Rivers which led to points for the Raiders. It should be noted that Smith was badly beat on his interception and it would have been an easy Travis Benjamin touchdown had Rivers not underthrown the ball. Karl Joseph is the exception to this unit as he played another great game.
What makes the piss poor play of the secondary even more baffling is that the front-seven provided a lot of pressure on Rivers. Stacy McGee came through big time with two sacks and Khalil Mack forced about seven holds that were never called.
This was the best run defense the Raiders have played all season as they held Melvin Gordon and the Chargers to 72 yards (3.8 yards per carry) and zero touchdowns. Raiders new addition Perry Riley led the team with seven tackles and Karl Joseph and Reggie Nelson were right behind with six each. Joseph absolutely lit up Melvin Gordon on multiple occasions. The defense also forced two fumbles recovering each which was the difference between and win and a loss.
It is difficult to fault Ken Norton Jr in this game as there were so many blown coverages it was almost impossible to keep count. Norton was having Reggie Nelson help over the top to prevent the speedy duo of Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams from beating the cornerbacks deep and it still didn't work as Nelson himself got beat deep as well several times. It was a smart call from both Norton and Jack Del Rio to start Perry Riley over Malcom Smith as Riley forced a fumble and led the team in tackles. But at the end of the day, the Raiders still gave up 31 points and Norton must take at least part of the blame as the defensive coordinator.
Overall Defensive Grade: B- (four turnovers saves this grade)
Marquette "The Magician" King keeps proving he is the best punter in football and delivered a huge kick in the final seconds of the game to back the Chargers deep into their own territory and prevent any chance for them to kick a game-tying field goal. Sebastian Janikowski made 4/5 field goal attempts including a 56-yarder. The lone attempt he missed was from 50-yards out. Ultimately these field goals made a huge difference in the game as the Raiders only won by three points. Janikowski also converted both of his extra point attempts.