Chargers lead Raiders 16-6 through 3 quarters
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)
Philip Rivers threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Malcom Floyd and the San Diego Chargers took a 16-6 lead over the mistake-prone Oakland Raiders through three quarters Monday night in the season opener for both teams.
The Chargers took advantage of three Raiders penalties that led to first downs on a 13-play, 90-yard drive late in the second quarter. Rivers completed a 17-yard pass to Antonio Gates on third-and-5 to move to Oakland's 7-yard line before finding Floyd on a short toss on another third down.
Gates went to the locker room briefly with a rib injury in the third quarter but returned for San Diego's next drive.
Raiders long snapper Jon Condo left with a head injury in the first half and did not return. Normally an overlooked position, the Raiders felt Condo's absence almost immediately.
Travis Goethel took over at long snapper and rolled a snap in the third quarter to punter Shane Lechler, who was gang tackled at Oakland's 39. Nate Kaeding kicked a 28-yard field goal to extend San Diego's lead to 13-6.
The Raiders offense stalled again and Goethel's next snap stayed straight, although Lechler appeared to stand closer to the line of scrimmage. Dante Rosario ran through the middle to block the punt, giving San Diego possession at Oakland's 8.
It was the first time the Raiders had a punt blocked since Oct. 8, 2006, at San Francisco. Condo had never had a punt blocked while at long snapper. The Chargers had not blocked a punt since Oct. 25, 2009, at Kansas City.
The only downside for the Chargers is they again failed to get in the end zone. Kaeding kicked a 19-yard field to put San Diego ahead 16-6 late in the third quarter.
Oakland relied on a mostly one-man show on offense.
Darren McFadden, out with a right foot injury most of last season, already caught a career-high 10 passes for 76 yards to go with 76 yards rushing for the Raiders, who settled for field goals of 51 and 20 yards by Sebastian Janikowski.
Familiar mistakes flared up again for the Raiders.
Nose tackle Tommy Kelly handed San Diego two first downs on the touchdown drive when he jumped offside on two short third downs. Tyvon Branch gave the Chargers another first down on a holding penalty.
The Raiders set an NFL record with 163 penalties last season, giving opponents 58 first downs by penalties.
Rivers avoided a sack and bought time in the pocket to find Floyd in the front of the end zone. Floyd dunked the ball through the uprights and waved his hands at the Black Hole side of the Oakland Coliseum after giving San Diego a 10-3 lead.
The Raiders nearly rallied for a tying touchdown before halftime.
On third-and-15 from San Diego's 16, McFadden took a short pass from Rivers and burst up the middle, splitting two defenders and diving a yard short of a first down with 7 seconds left. The replacement referees initially ruled McFadden had the first down until the replay booth overturned the call and set up a fourth-and-short.
The 14-play, 77-drive ended with Janikowski's 20-yard field goal.
Robert Meachem made a diving, 46-yard catch from Rivers at Oakland's 20 in the first quarter. After Rivers sailed passes to Floyd and Gates in the end zone, the Chargers settled for tying 23-yard field goal by Kaeding.
Oakland had plenty of production from the offense but no points.
Darrius Heyward-Bey took a short pass from Carson Palmer for 13 yards and McFadden caught a 9-yard pass before the drive stalled. Janikowski stayed steady despite a high snap and kicking from the infield dirt at the Coliseum - shared by baseball's Oakland Athletics - to boot a wobbly line drive through the uprights.
On Oakland's opening possession, Rod Streater caught Palmer's pass over the middle for what would have been a first down on third-and-4. As Streater spun around, Melvin Ingram came from behind to knock the ball lose and Antwan Barnes recovered at San Diego's 29.
But the Chargers couldn't capitalize on the turnover. Ronnie Brown caught a 4-yard pass, was stuffed for no gain and Matt Shaughnessy and David Tollefson sacked Rivers to force a punt.
The Raiders took over and Palmer led the seven-play, 33-yard drive that ended with Janikowski's field goal from the infield dirt. With the Miami Marlins getting a new ballpark this year, Oakland is the only stadium still shared by NFL and Major League Baseball teams.
The Raiders spiced up the home opener with a performance by rapper Ice Cube, who overcame a glitch on his microphone before getting a sold-out Coliseum crowd on its feet, singing lyrics and waving in unison. Gene Simmons from ''Kiss'' sang the national anthem, and former coach Tom Flores ignited the eternal flame in memory of owner Al Davis.
The season started the way last season ended for these two California franchises.
The Raiders would have won the AFC West had they beaten San Diego at home in the season finale. Instead, they lost 38-26 at home and missed the postseason for the ninth straight season.
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