Bolts beat Oakland to stay alive in playoff race

There was no way the Chargers could get through Sunday without

doing some serious scoreboard watching.

Buffalo’s 19-0 win against Miami was being shown on the

scoreboard video screen while the Chargers were warming up for

their game against Oakland. Updates of New England’s 41-7 victory

against Baltimore were shown during the game.

”I was going to know, somehow,” said quarterback Philip

Rivers, whose Chargers needed both Miami and Baltimore to lose to

stay alive in the race for the AFC’s second wild-card spot.

The Chargers still had to do their part, which they did with a

26-13 victory against the hapless Raiders. San Diego overcame three

turnovers while benefiting from two turnovers and 12 penalties for

73 yards by the Raiders.

The Chargers (8-7), who have won three straight games for the

first time this season, head into their finale still needing help.

They have to beat Kansas City at home while needing Baltimore to

lose at Cincinnati and Miami to lose at home to the New York

Jets.

”All three went our way today, including the one we had our

control in,” Rivers said. ”Same boat next week. We need all three

to go our way. The only one we can control is the one here against

the Chiefs.”

Rivers threw a go-ahead, 4-yard touchdown pass to rookie Keenan

Allen with 5 minutes left in the third quarter and Ryan Mathews ran

for 99 yards and one touchdown, setting a career high with 1,111

yards. Nick Novak kicked four field goals for San Diego.

Mathews limped to the locker room in the fourth quarter but

later returned to the game. He left the stadium wearing a

protective boot on his left foot.

”The Chargers are still beating and I know no one wants to play

us right now, that’s for sure,” said safety Eric Weddle, who had

an interception.

Oakland could have pulled within one score, but Rod Streater

couldn’t hold on to Matt McGloin’s 39-yard pass as he came down in

the end zone with 4:38 left. Oakland challenged but the ruling was

upheld. Oakland turned it over on downs with 54 seconds left and

lost its fifth straight game.

”It shouldn’t have been close, but they don’t give you any

extra points for winning by a bigger margin,” Rivers said. ”Just

find a way to win.”

Oakland (4-11) helped San Diego, too, by committing a dozen

penalties. Mike Jenkins was penalized 15 yards for taunting Mathews

after he pushed the running back out of bounds. Allen scored six

plays later.

”We had too many penalties,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said.

”A lot of our penalties, specifically defensively, came on third

down, which allowed them to extend some drives.”

The game was tied at 10 after a sloppy first half that included

three turnovers by the Chargers and seven penalties for 39 yards by

the Raiders.

The only score of the first half that wasn’t set up by a

turnover was a 27-yard field goal by Novak in the first

quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Rivers wasn’t ready for a shotgun

snap and the ball bounced off him for a fumble that was recovered

by former San Diego State linebacker Miles Burris at the Raiders

42.

The drive stayed alive when Mychal Rivera leaped to catch a

37-yard pass from McGloin, and Darren McFadden scored on a 5-yard

run on the next play for a 7-3 Oakland lead.

Rivers was picked off by Mike Jenkins to end San Diego’s next

drive, but Weddle then intercepted McGloin at the Raiders 20,

deflecting the ball to himself. That set up Mathews’ 7-yard run and

the Chargers regained the lead at 10-7.

San Diego forced the Raiders to punt from their 40 but rookie

Keenan Allen’s fumble was recovered by Shelton Johnson at the 16.

The Raiders had to settle for Sebastian Janikowski’s tying 20-yard

field goal with 10 seconds left before halftime.

”Really, the series of the game was us holding them to a field

goal at the end of the half,” Weddle said. ”That gave us some

momentum. We made it interesting for a while but the better team

won today. Just a great team win to have everything on the line and

to struggle for a little bit but to show some character and

toughness to overcome those issues we had.

Novak kicked three more field goals in the second half, from 48,

28 and 33 yards. Janikowski added a 42-yarder.

”We were right there in the game,” Oakland’s Charles Woodson

said, referring to the halftime tie. ”There really wasn’t a whole

lot that needed to be fixed. It was a close ballgame, our game to

go out there and win.”

NOTES: Chargers tight end John Phillips injured a knee in the

first quarter and didn’t return. Chargers safety Marcus Gilchrist

was shaken up in the second quarter but returned.

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