There was a moment the momentum turned Sunday afternoon.
It came early in the second quarter.
Up 3-0 at the time, the Oakland Raiders had dominated nearly every aspect of their Week 10 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers. They were in control of the time of possession, had rendered the Los Angeles offense primarily ineffective, and were just outside the red zone, looking to extend their lead to at the very least, 6-0.
Then Melvin Ingram got to Derek Carr, taking down the Raiders quarterback behind the line of scrimmage, forcing a fumble in the process. Corey Lieuget – who was in the right place at the right time – picked up the free ball, then rumbled back into Oakland territory, and while the Chargers got just three points off the misstep, it was the start of a 20-3 run that ultimately resulted in the Raiders falling to 1-8.
Defensively, Paul Guenther’s group started fast – forcing Chargers three-and-outs on L.A.’s first two possessions – and truth be told, while the Silver and Black eventually fell to Philip Rivers and the Bolts, the play of the defense, by and large, was pretty solid.
Yes, Melvin Gordon did take a short pass from Rivers 66 yards to the house, in what turned out to be the nail in the Raiders metaphorical coffin Sunday afternoon, but there were indeed spurts of positive play from Guenther’s unit Sunday afternoon.
The first half in particular, the coverage was tight, we saw some improvement in the pass rush, and the Bolts really struggled to get much of anything going offensively.
However, that type of result didn’t carry over to the final 30 minutes, as Rivers and Co., got things rolling, marching up and down the field en route to their sixth, consecutive win. Once again, Melvin Gordon was impressive, totaling more than 150 total yards, and while Rivers final stat line wasn’t overly impressive, he took care of the ball – for the most part – and got the Chargers in and out of their offense.
Really, if we’re looking for positive takeaways from Sunday’s game, you have to begin that conversation talking about the play of the team’s rookie punter, Johnny Townsend.
The former Florida Gator’s first eight games in Silver and Black offered a mixed bag of results, but give No. 5 credit, he appeared to be re-born Sunday afternoon.
First things first; before Townsend even attempted a kick, he made the most of his first opportunity on the field, effectively executing a fake punt, that resulted in him sprinting down the sidelines for a gain of 42.
In terms of his actual job, Townsend was impressive too, routinely flipping the field in what was easily his best game as a Raider. Headed into Week 10, Coach Gruden had routinely discussed the need for the Raiders to be better in the battle for field position, and Townsend’s 54 yards per punt, no doubt helped in that regard.
But, when the clock hit triple zeroes, the Raiders had not done enough to earn a win, and as a result, they now find themselves in the midst of a five-game losing streak.
With Sunday’s game now in the rear view mirror, Head Coach Jon Gruden and his team will now hit the road for back-to-back games against the Arizona Cardinals then the Baltimore Ravens respectively.
After the two-games away from home, they’ll host the Kansas City Chiefs on December 2 back at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Photos of the game action during the Raiders' Week 10 matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers at the Coliseum.