By Sam McPherson
In dropping a 26-13 road decision to division rivals in San Diego, the Oakland Raiders find themselves with a 4-11 record with one game left to play in 2013. As in so many other losses this year, the Silver and Black had a solid shot to win this game when they were tied at halftime, but the Chargers outscored the Raiders, 16-3, in the second half to keep their playoff hopes alive. Oakland managed just seven yards of offense in the decisive third quarter when San Diego took a 10-point lead they never relinquished.
Throw in 12 penalties and the Raiders really didn't have a good day. They won't even have a chance to play "spoiler" next week in the final contest of the year, when they host the AFC West division champion Denver Broncos at the O.Co Coliseum on December 29.
Offense Grade: F
The overall numbers are pretty bad: only 265 yards all day against one of the poorer defensive teams in the NFL, yardage-wise, just isn't going to cut it. Oakland totaled just 206 yards passing and only 59 yards on the ground. They didn't put together a drive of more than six plays until the fourth quarter, and overall, the Raiders had four three-play possessions (three resulting in punts and one in an interception).
The longest drive of the day was the last one: a 17-play, 70-yard effort that resulted in no points when Oakland turned the ball over on downs. The Raiders were just 4-for-13 on third-down conversions in this game, which really hindered their ability to put together sustained drives.
But the Oakland game plan abandoned the running game, really, toting the rock just 17 times the entire game for only 59 yards. Quarterback Matt McGloin threw 36 passes, completing only 20 of them. The Raiders just could not exploit the Chargers' defense at all in the loss.
Defense Grade: C+
The Silver and Black defended well enough today, better than a lot of other days this season. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers had a below-average day, throwing for just 201 yards along with committing two turnovers (one pick, one lost fumble). Chargers running back Ryan Mathews needed 25 carries to amass 99 yards rushing. Wide receiver Keenan Allen had just three catches for 26 yards. Overall, the Raiders held the stars on the Bolts offense in check.
Oakland did give up a 16-play, 82-yard drive on the Chargers first possession of the game, surrendering a field goal. And then in the second half, the Raiders let San Diego score on four straight possessions (a touchdown and three FGs), three of which started inside the Chargers 30-yard line. In fact, the Silver and Black forced only one punt all day.
Overall, San Diego averaged 5.1 yards per play on the day and held the ball for 34:42 while going 6-for-11 on third downs. That kept the Oakland defense on the field too long at certain points, like that opening drive noted above and then the third-quarter TD drive when the Chargers marched 77 yards in 12 plays to take a 17-10 lead with five minutes in the period.
That drive may have cost the Raiders the game, although the way the offense was (not) going, perhaps it had no effect.
Quarterback Grade: D
McGloin probably was worse this week than he was last week, when he threw four picks in the loss to the Chiefs. The Raiders QB didn't throw a TD pass for only the second time in his six starts, and his yards-per-attempt figure was a paltry 5.72 on a day when he managed only 206 yards through the air. He did set a career-high mark for completions (20), but the Raiders didn't have a lot of momentum on offense, and that falls on the shoulders of the quarterback.
Overall, McGloin found five different receivers at least two times each, and three other Raiders had a single reception. He spread the ball around a lot, but the consistent downfield throws weren't there today, and that cost the Oakland offense some chances to score.
Two things stick out about the Raiders young QB. First, after winning his first start, the team has lost five straight now, and the last two games have been McGloin's worst of the season, by far; and second, his completion percentage – 55.6 percent for the game and 56.0 percent for the season – is way below quality standards in the NFL, and that will have to change going forward if McGloin wants to be a long-term NFL QB.
Special Teams Grade: A-
Greg Jenkins averaged 23.3 yards on six kickoff returns, while the coverage unit allowed just 5.5 yards on its two chances. That was a win-win for the Raiders in terms of field position. And when your punter (Marquette King) averages 54.2 yards on his five kicks, that is also helping the team win the field-position battle.
Sebastian Janikowski hit both his field-goal tries in this game, which was nice.
The punt-return coverage unit, however, surrendered 35 yards of punt-return yardage on three returns. Considering the Seattle Seahawks have given up 19 yards on punt returns all season, this was not the best day for this specific Raiders unit.
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Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A's. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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