New coach, new general manager, same result for the Oakland Raiders.
The Chargers didn’t play great, but they didn’t make mistakes either, and that was the difference in San Diego’s 22-14 win, beating the Raiders on Monday Night Football.
The night did not begin auspiciously. Rapper and die-hard Raider fan Ice Cube performed for the fans inside the stadium in the left field view corridor about 30 minutes before the opening kickoff. A few minutes into his first song, his mic shorted out. Ice Cube could be seen thumping the mic and muttering some explictives before the jumbotron put up the Raider logo and Ice Cube went back behind the silver curtain. He would appear again and finish the rest of his set, but perhaps that was enough of an omen to set the tone for a disappointing night in front of a sold out crowd, eager to celebrate a Raider victory.
Other pregame tributes included Tom Flores lighting the “Eternal Flame” symbolizing the fire that burned within the late Al Davis and how much he wanted to win. And lastly, Gene Simmons, the lead singer of KISS, sang the National Anthem accompanied by the Travis Air Mobility Band.
The bad news: none of those involved in pregame festivities were responsible for helping the Raiders on the field.
Offense overall: Grade C-
This would have been a D if not for a late game 2-yard touchdown pass from Carson Palmer to rookie Rod Streater. Granted, the Raiders had their injuries, but all teams have to make due. The Chargers were also limited––they didn’t have running back Ryan Mathews, who is one of the better backs in the league.
The Raiders didn’t have enough on offense, relying only on Darren McFadden. McFadden caught a series of short pass plays, but not enough to be effective. They didn’t have receivers Jacoby Ford or Denarius Moore. Last year at San Diego, Moore had five catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
Taiwan Jones on a reverse had the ball handed to him off his face mask by Marcel Reese. If you’re a Raiders fan, you were swearing at your TV set and if you weren’t, you were laughing hysterically. But both can agree it was an embarrassing play and cost the Raiders 25 yards
Just one more touchdown would likely have been more than enough, instead of the one in garbage time inside the final minute when the game was well out of reach.
Defense overall: Grade B
Solid job by the Raiders making the Chargers settle for field goals and giving up only one touchdown. Granted, five field goals by sure-footed kicker Nate Kaeding was more than the Raiders could overcome, since they simply couldn’t move the football.
Special teams overall: Grade D-
Just abysmal. The Raiders looked terrible. On the opening kick, Taiwan Jones muffed the ball on the kick return. Long snapper Jon Condo was hit in the head by his own teammate two plays after the muffed reverse by Jones. His replacement, Travis Goethel, had never been a long snapper, and it showed. His first attempt, he fumbled the ball and that was a blown play. The next time they punted, it was blocked, a result of a missed assignment. The Raiders had better fix this immediately or the worst is yet to come!
Quote of the game:
“We have a lot of goals that we can still achieve,” Palmer said. “Coach (Allen) said it best. He said it’s one of 16. This is not a sprint, this is a marathon. We’re going to stick together. We’re going to continue to work. We’ve got a short week and we can get back on track with a win in Miami.”
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.