This week sees our final 2011 edition of Flashback, ironically flashing back just a few weeks. We'll look at the last time the Chargers played, and lost to, the Oakland Raiders. It was in the middle of that six-game skid, and the third game San Diego would play (and lose) in the space of 11 days. Thanks, NFL schedule-makers. You're awesome.
This game brought newly-minted Raider quarterback Carson Palmer back to San Diego, where the last time he had played was in 2009 as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, in that game Nate Kaeding won with a last-second long field goal. Ah, memories. Palmer usually pulled out his best performances against San Diego, and this week was no different.While the Chargers managed to force a 3-and-out on the first series of the game and kick a field goal on their first turn, the slim lead didn't last for long. Thanks to a long run by Michael Bush and a long pass from Palmer to Jacoby Ford, Oakland quickly jumped back ahead with a Bush touchdown run. The San Diego offense would flounder from thereon out, while Oakland would thrive. The Raiders repeatedly dialed up long distance and connected on long pass plays of 30+ and 40+ yards, building up a 17-3 lead at halftime.
The second half was more of the same. The Chargers managed to score on a long TD to Vincent Brown to cut the deficit to 17-10, but the Raiders came right back as Palmer connected on passes of 55 yards and 26 yards to go back up by two scores at 24-10. San Diego would again score at the end of the 3rd quarter to make it 24-17, but that would be the end of scoring. Turnovers reigned for the rest of the night, as Palmer lost a fumble and threw a pick, just as Philip Rivers did the same (though in reverse order).
The Chargers will be looking to avoid a 4th straight loss to the Raiders. We've come a long way from that 11-game winning streak, haven't we? There are compelling reasons for San Diego to lose this weekend however: draft position for one, and helping Oakland to lose yet another first round draft pick (the second rounder they gave to Cincinnati for Palmer becomes a first rounder if they make the post-season). But it will be difficult to hope for a loss in the face of all that silver and black.