I covered a game in 2008 when the San Diego Chargers were blanked in the first half by the Oakland Raiders and later scored 25 fourth-quarter points to pull out an improbable victory.

But the Chargers had a secret weapon that sunny day in Oakland five years ago and it had nothing to do with LaDainian Tomlinson running wild in the second half.

Yep, Lane Kiffin was coaching the Raiders that day. It was his final game before being fired.

Kiffin wasn’t in the facility this time around as the Chargers committed five turnovers and put up a substandard performance while digging themselves a huge hole in a 27-17 loss to the Raiders late Sunday night.

The game ended at 11:40 Pacific time – 2:40 a.m. Monday morning in the East – due to the time being moved back because of the Oakland Athletics being involved in the major-league baseball playoffs.

And for two-thirds of the contest, it appeared that only the Raiders were interested in playing at the late hour.

Oakland was strong at the outset and quickly built a 17-point lead. The Chargers were so dreadful over the first 2 1/2 quarters that you would’ve thought Otis Sistrunk, Matt Millen and Lester Hayes were back on the Oakland defense.

Then Nick Novak had a field-goal attempt blocked with under six minutes left in the quarter. But instead of the Raiders taking over, backup tight end Ladarius Green scooped up the ball behind the line of scrimmage – making it eligible to be run with – and notched a first down.

The Chargers eventually got on the board a minute later on a Novak field goal and the late-night weirdness took another turn against San Diego when Danny Woodhead fumbled and Charles Woodson – yes that ancient defensive back who entered the NFL the same year (1998) the Chargers selected Ryan Leaf – scooped it up and ran 25 yards for his 13th career defensive touchdown to make it 24-3.

But signs of a comeback picked up when Philip Rivers threw touchdown passes to Woodhead and Keenan Allen in the first five minutes of the final quarter to make it a seven-point game.

Perhaps history would repeat itself but as quickly as Sebastian Janikowski could boot a 50-yard field goal from second base, the comeback was derailed.

Rivers was intercepted twice in the final two minutes – that made a season-high three for the game – and the Chargers now take a 2-3 record into a Monday night contest with the fearsome Indianapolis Colts.

“We had every opportunity at the end there and that says a lot about the character of the football team after being down 17-0,” coach Mike McCoy said in his postgame press conference.

Rivers finished with 411 yards for his third 400-yard outing in five games under McCoy’s tutelage but he was outplayed by Oakland’s Terrelle Pryor, who was 18-of-23 for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

The Chargers also had no sign of a running game against the Raiders with just 32 yards on 19 rushing attempts. Ryan Mathews left early with a concussion and neither Woodhead or Ronnie Brown fared well.

Now San Diego needs to rebound against the Colts or risk being 2-4 six games into the season with two games each against undefeated AFC West rivals Denver and Kansas City still ahead.

We will learn a lot about this football team – and its rookie head coach – by the way the Chargers play against Andrew Luck and the Colts.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s