This was a game that almost deserves two sets of grades, one for the first three quarters and another for the fourth. The Raiders played brilliantly for 45 minutes, letting up in the final period of a blowout. So we’ll just round up.
Pass Offense: Derek Carr went 24 for 31 for 289 yards, with three TDS (to three different receivers), no interceptions and one sack. Amari Cooper continues to shine, with 133 yards on five receptions, including a 52-yard TD catch. Michael Crabtree had six reception for 63 yards and a touchdown. In all, Carr spread the ball around to nine receivers.
Rush Offense: The running game added a nice balance to Oakland’s rapidly improving offense, picking up 117 yards on 24 carries total. Latavius Murray accounted for 85 of those yards on 15 carries, including a touchdown. Taiwan Jones notched 35 yards on just three carries. They had trouble getting first downs in the fourth quarter to burn down the clock, but Murray and Jones still ended the day with excellent yards per carry.
Pass Defense: 38-58-336-3-2 After throwing for over 500 yards on 65 attempts last week in Green Bay, Philip Rivers put up 336 yards on 38 completion in 58 attempts today against the Raiders. At this rate, he will set a single-season yardage record, if his arm doesn’t fall off first. Rivers had three touchdowns and two interceptions in the process, but most of his numbers came late in the game, when the Raiders let up a little. Malcolm Smith’s interception on the third play of the game helped put the Raiders ahead early and command the tempo of the game, and Smith also had a sack. D.J. Hayden also had a very good game, with an interception, a forced fumble and 10 tackles. Tight end Ladarius Green was inexcusably wide open on his touchdown catch, but this was well after the game was getting out of reach for the Chargers.
Rush Defense: San Diego’s three running backs totaled 90 yards on 21 carries, which is decent, but also shows how one-dimensional the Chargers’ offense became, thanks to the Raiders’ swarming defense, ending up with a nearly 3:1 pass-run ratio for San Diego. They had some trouble containing Danny Woodhead late in the game, but again….
Special Teams: Sebastian Janikowski made all of his extra point attempts, and had no field goal tries. Marquette King’s punt average (38.0) was below his usual, but a couple of those were short-field shots. The return game was decent, nothing spectacular. This is a unit that is better off staying consistent, and not breaking or giving up big plays.
Coaching: Whatever the coaches told the team going into the bye week, after a close loss to an undefeated Denver team, worked great. Right from the start, the Raiders came out swinging, playing offense and defense with equal levels of passion and precision. Too often, what has hurt the team is that one unit will show up and the other doesn’t, leading to an impressive offensive showing but poor defense, or vice versa. But they showed that when both units are going strong, they can beat up on teams, even decent ones like the Chargers. Next week’s matchup at home against the Jets will provide a better test of the direction the team is headed.