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Charles Woodson Owns The Night: Five Lessons We Learned From The Raiders Win Over The Chargers

It took 69 minutes and change for the Oakland Raiders to do it, but they eventually beat the San Diego Chargers in overtime 23-20 at Coliseum.

At times it wasn't pretty; the two teams traded back-to-back punts for most of the third quarter, but when all was said and done, the Raiders rose up and beat the Chargers, sweeping the season series against their division rivals for the first time since 2010.

Head Coach Jack Del Rio's team now owns a 7-8 record, and with a win in the season finale next week against the Kansas City Chiefs, can finish the season with a .500 record.

The team will now enjoy a few well-deserved days off, so while we wait for them to get back to work let's find out what we learned from their thrilling win over the San Diego Chargers.

Charles Woodson Owned The Night

The future Hall of Famer announced Monday night that after #18 Years he would be calling it a career, meaning that Thursday's game against the Chargers would be his last at Coliseum.

And Woodson surely went out in style.

From his arrival at the Coliseum, to his pregame speech, there was a discernible buzz surrounding No. 24, and the former Michigan Wolverine relished every moment of it.

Woodson ended the day with two tackles, and negative three rushing yards, but really shone once the game had ended.

At the game's conclusion, Woodson, already drenched in Gatorade, took the microphone and addressed the assembled 54,400 in attendance, sharing his gratitude and saying one final goodbye before he rode off into the sunset.

Woodson has enjoyed a wildly decorated career, earning the type of accolades he only dreamt of as a child, and Thursday night's game served as a fitting tribute for man who has meant so much to so many.

The Young Raiders Defense Is On The Rise

Bend, but don't break.

It's seemingly been the mantra for the Raiders defense the second half of the season, but it's a mantra that's definitely been effective, particularly as of late.

After surrendering 17 points to the Chargers in the first half, Philip Rivers and Co., managed three points in the second half and overtime.

"Over the last five or six games we've been a really fairly effective unit," said Head Coach Del Rio postgame.  "We're going to become dominant here. I said that last week, two weeks ago, three weeks ago, I don't know when because that's what I believe. I believe we're going to build that as a football team. You have to play that kind of defense if you want to be that kind of football team."

Ken Norton, Jr.'s defense has certainly flashed glimpses of dominance this season, and with a predominantly young nucleus, the future looks bright for the Silver and Black's defense unit.

Marquette King Is A Legitimate Weapon

Coming out of Fort Valley State, one thing that was never in question was the raw leg strength that King possessed.

However, now in his third season, and second handling the full-time punting duties, King is evolving as a player and now showing off some impressive finesse with his kicks.

King punted eight times in Thursday's game against the Chargers, averaging an impressive 50 yards-per-punt, with six of those punts landing inside the 20-yard line.

Perhaps even more impressively, on those eight punts he allowed just one return for two yards and zero touchbacks.

He also set a new franchise record for punts inside the 20 in a season (34), since the statistic became official in 1976.

King has steadily improved as the season has gone on, and his ability to flip the field is an incredible luxury to have, particularly when the offense has trouble sustaining drives.                    

Malcolm Smith: Flying Under The Radar No More

When the Raiders signed Malcolm Smith in March, the thought was that the former-Super Bowl MVP would provide depth for a linebacking corps that already seemed set headed into 2015.

However, the position group changed throughout the offseason, and with his consistent play, Smith became a key cog as 2015 began and he has certainly made the most of his opportunities.

Most games, Smith rarely, if ever, comes off the field and it seems like each week he paces the Silver and Black defensively, and Thursday night's game was no different.

The University of Southern California-product recorded a game-high 14 total tackles, two tackles for loss and an absolutely pivotal forced fumble that later resulted in seven points for the Raiders.

Smith has been the model of consistency in 2015, and with his importance to the Raiders defense as a whole, you could make an argument that he was the best free agent-acquisition of the offseason by General Manager Reggie McKenzie.

.500 Is Still On The Table

No, the Raiders will not be headed the postseason in 2015.

Some ill-timed losses earlier in the season came back to rear their head for the Silver and Black, ensuring that unfortunately there would be no playoff run this season.

That being said, the Raiders under Head Coach Del Rio are a much-improved team from 2014 – there is little room to argue that.

Last season, the team won three games and didn't have much of an identity.

This season, they have already more than doubled that total and with a win in Kansas City next week, have a chance to go 8-8 for the first time since 2011.

Woodson said in his postgame address to the Coliseum crowd that the Raiders were going to get better, "really, really soon," and securing a .500 record would be a great place to start that bright future.

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