Oakland celebrated the end of a haunting drought by surviving San Diego’s aerial onslaught in this 35-27 win — a victory that snapped a painful, seven-year losing streak to their division rivals.
Far from an orthodox performance, earning the win required 22 points from special teams and defense, two blocked punts, three key forced fumbles, and another QB change as Bruce Gradkowski was unable to finish due to injury.
Chargers: Three performances of note
In opposition to his eventual counterpart, super-careful Jason Campbell, Philip Rivers (+5.2) displayed his usual fearless style and came right at the Oakland defense this week. He has graded in the green all season and did so again while spreading the ball around to ten different receivers all across the field. Rivers, however, did most of his damage in attacking the middle of the defense, completing 17 of 24 passes for 271 yards between the hashes. To do what he’s doing behind what’s been the worst set of pass blockers in the league is remarkable.
ILB Kevin Burnett’s fine 2010 season continues. His +1.9 overall grade was largely due to his knack for making plays when rushing the passer. He collected a pair of sacks for the second straight week (he now has four, one more than in all of 2009) and his season pass rush grade (+3.7) leads the league’s inside linebackers. Burnett was generally active all day, also posting a strong grade against the run (+1.4).
Regardless of who he was matched up against, including CB Nnamdi Asomugha, Charger WR Malcolm Floyd (+3.4) was literally unstoppable. Targeted ten times, he came up with 8 receptions for 213 yards (26.6 per catch) and drew penalties on the two passes that fell incomplete. Floyd is cementing his spot as a legit top-flight receiver and making life easy for San Diego’s Vincent Jackson-less passing game.
Raiders: Three performances of note
Matt Shaughnessy (+1.4) got the bulk of the playing time at right defensive end with Trevor Scott (+3.0) moving back to linebacker in place of injured starter Quentin Groves. Shaughnessy controlled his edge against the run (+1.6 run D), consistently tossing Brandyn Dombrowski (-1.5) aside to force the play at or behind the line of scrimmage. He led the Raider defense with five stops, including a sack that resulted in a Rivers fumble in the red zone.
RT Langston Walker (+5.2) logged his third consecutive positive game grade and this one was by far the best in his three-season PFF file. His +2.9 run blocking rating this week pushed his season run block total into the top ten of all offensive tackles. With so much attention being paid to the Henderson/Veldheer rotation on the other side, Walker is quietly settling in and improving on the right.
Backing up his big performance last week with another fine outing, TE Zach Miller (+3.5) hauled in six catches and found the end zone for the third game in a row. It was the first time this season that Miller failed to make a grab of over 20 yards (18 yards was his longest this week), but he remained the top target for Oakland’s QB’s and even managed to slip by defenders for three missed tackles. Miller has now been on the field for all but one of Oakland’s offensive snaps through five games.
Same story for Oakland’s rookies: MLB Rolando McClain (+1.0) and DLE Lamarr Houston (+1.1) followed down weeks with adequate outings, McClain was again in for every defensive snap … LT Jared Veldheer split time with Mario Henderson … WR Jacoby Ford returned kickoffs and took spot reps at receiver … none stood out.
DT Cam Thomas hit the field for the first time this season and came away with three tackles in his 13 plays. He finished with a +1.6 overall grade. … HB Ryan Matthews saw less time in the backfield than both HB Mike Tolbert and HB Darren Sproles.
Charger punter Mike Scifres’ day: four punts attempted, two were blocked, one wiped out by a roughing the kicker penalty, and the last, a 42-yarder, was returned 46 yards by WR Nick Miller (Scifres made the tackle.) His free kick following the safety on his first blocked punt went out of bounds, handing Oakland a drive start at midfield.