This game, as the final score would suggest, was rather evenly contested. Both offenses were successful on only about 40% of the plays they ran and really only particularly successful for one quarter each. The Raiders came out of the gate fast and dominated offensively for the first quarter defensively for the first three. Unfortunately for Raider fan, the Chargers defense shut them down for the final three quarters and when it needed to in the fourth quarter the Chargers offense kicked into gear and was nigh unstoppable.
Looking at the splits, the Chargers were equally ineffective offensively on first through third down. The defense was stifling on first and second, but had trouble getting off the field on third down allowing Oakland to convert half of it's chances. Teams that play significantly better or worse on third down than on first and second tend to regress back toward their overall performance level. This bodes well for the Chargers defense as they move forward. It's also comforting to see that as the game progressed the Chargers improved across the board suggesting adjustments were made and that those adjustments were the correct ones.
If we turn our focus to the individual player level, we see that the Chargers' receivers and tight end were successful while the runningbacks struggled. This is as much a reflection of the performance of the offensive line as anything. There was relatively little room to run for Sproles and Tomlinson, the beautifully blocked last running play excepted, and Rivers when given time (he was sacked three times) found the open man or dumped the ball off. Both the lack of run blocking and the ineffective dump offs conspired to keep the San Diego runners' numbers down.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Chargers basically shut out Oakland's receivers not named Zach Miller. Even when given time to find the open man, JaMarcus Russell either couldn't find him or missed badly outside of the horribly blown coverage on 4th & 14 late in the game. The Oakland running game which had seemed so effective while listening to the announcers rave about it proved to be ineffective outside of third down and the most unfortunate first quarter.
The Chargers' leader in stops was unsurprisingly also their leading tackler, inside linebacker Stephen Cooper, who had more stops than any other Charger had tackles. Number two on the squad was Ogemdi Nwagbuo who also had the only sack of the night. Cason, Dobbins and Merriman were the only other Charger defenders with more than one stop to their name.Chargers Offensive Success Rates:
Chargers Defensive Stop Rates: