Chargers set to face division rival Raiders
Oct 5, 2013 at 8:10p ET
On this one, the media and fans win.
When the Bolts take their 2-2 record up to Oakland for the Sunday night game, the fans will be in a frenzy, ready to react to anything negative toward their "Raidahs" (as Al Davis would have said it).
The Chargers fans who make the trek up north to the Bay Area will likely start out quiet -- their health maybe depending on it. That won't last long, though, and the San Diegans will be chirping at the Raider fans until the game ends and everyone hopefully makes it out of the Coliseum safely.
If you don't believe me, here's an example of the rivalry that isn't, according to the reigning AFC Offensive Player of the Week Philip Rivers.
"Raider week, Chief week, Bronco week, it's a division game. I think anytime you playing any of those teams, its big. Obviously we know what it means to the community here. It’s probably the biggest rivalry for our fans. It is for us as well. But I think any division game, they’re all thought of the same way inside this locker room. But it's a big week and we’ve got to learn how to handle success in a game and go get another one. We've gone loss win loss win and we’ve got to be able to get two in a row this week.”
So, in the same answer, Rivers says it's no more important that any other game against a division rival. Then he admits that's it's the biggest rival the Chargers have. Huh?
Alright, now let's try head coach Mike McCoy, in his first year as Chargers head coach and his first game against the Raiders.
"It's a division opponent," said McCoy, who was Denver's offensive coordinator before taking the Chargers job and used to play Oakland twice per season as well. "I think any time you play a divisional opponent everyone has the same goal in the NFL; the number one thing is to win your division. There is always going to be that professional hatred. You don't really like the other teams in your division. You have to play them twice a year every year, so you know everything about them. It's a big game to the football team.”
Professional hatred. OK, now we're getting closer to something for some teams bulletin board.
Maybe ... nah. That's enough.
It just comes down to this: The Chargers and Raiders meet for the first time in 2013, continuing a rivalry that has seen the "Holy Roller" play by the Raiders.
Probably the most famous play of the rivalry, it took place on September 10, 1978. With a few seconds left in the game and San Diego leading by six, quarterback Ken Stabler was being rushed by what seemed like the Chargers' front line and the entire city of San Diego.
So, in avoidance of bodily destruction, he tossed the ball up in the air and took off. Fullback Pete Banaszak got to the ball a few seconds later and slapped it toward the end zone. Tight end Dave Casper then fell on it in the Charger end zone as time ran out to tie the game at 20. The ensuing extra point gave the Silver and Black a 21-20 win.
Fans of both teams still talk about that game with anger or glee -- depending on which team you were rooting for.
But on Sunday evening in a raucous Oakland Coliseum, both sides may forget about any rivalry and concentrating on their initial goal -- winning the division.
Safety Eric Weddle said it best: "We want to get off on the right foot and build off the momentum we made last week and it helps going against the Raiders. Obviously we've had some close games with them. It's always competitive and we can't wait till Sunday night under the lights. Shoot, it doesn't get any better than that."
For the winning team and fans.