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Raiders heading to playoffs, lowly Chargers maybe to LA

December 19, 2016
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr looks to throw a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr looks to throw a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers could be playing in different cities in the near future.

That’s about the only thing they have in common right now.

The Raiders, at least, are going back to the playoffs, snapping a 14-year drought that dates to their embarrassing Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay in January 2003.

Fittingly, the only player remaining from that roster, kicker Sebastian Janikowski, helped the Raiders punch their ticket to the postseason. He kicked a 44-yard field goal with 2:40 left, his fourth of the game, and the Raiders beat the San Diego Chargers 19-16 in the Relocation Bowl on Sunday.

“I can’t even describe my words man. It feels so special. I waited a long time for that,” Janikowski said.

So have their fans, and they packed Qualcomm Stadium, outnumbering Chargers fans by roughly 80 percent to 20 percent in the crowd of 68,352, the largest in San Diego this season.

All that Silver and Black backing the Raiders (11-3) provided a surreal atmosphere to the game, which might be the Chargers’ second-to-last in San Diego after 56 seasons.

Team chairman Dean Spanos seems almost certain to move the team to the Los Angeles area after failing to get a big public subsidy to help him replace aging Qualcomm Stadium.

The Raiders could be on the move, too, with owner Mark Davis eyeing Las Vegas, although they’d still play in Oakland until a new stadium was built in Sin City.

A sour relationship between Spanos and the Chargers fans, as well as yet another losing season, gives the appearance of a franchise flaming out. Raiders fans were all too happy to snap up available tickets.

“I was very excited, very joyful, looking around the stadium and seeing our fans just going crazy,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “When we come to San Diego, our fans turn it into a home game. We always think we get nine home games a year.”

RAIDERS RALLY: The winning drive started on the Raiders 34 and included a 27-yard run by Latavius Murray and a 22-yard pass from Carr to Seth Roberts.

Carr scrambled on third-and-8 on the Chargers 29 and thought he got the first down, but was ruled to have gone out of bounds a yard short. The Raiders challenged and the refs agreed, giving them the first down at the 21.

An incompletion and a sack forced the Raiders to turn to their 17-year veteran kicker, who delivered.

Reggie Nelson intercepted Philip Rivers with 1:37 to go to seal it.

The Raiders had two red-zone turnovers in the first half.

SEABASS: Janikowski also had field goals of 21, 45 and 33 yards.

“We would like to get seven, but we got points when we lined up for them,” coach Jack Del Rio said.

ROAD TEAM IN THEIR OWN STADIUM: The Chargers practiced this week with piped-in crowd noise, anticipating what it would be like Sunday. They skipped individual introductions and were booed anyway when they were introduced as a team.

“It was a road game,” San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers said. “It was just like being in Oakland. Except there were more people.”

Where were the Chargers fans?

“I don’t know. But it’s been two tough years,” Rivers said.

BLUNDERING BOLTS: The Chargers (5-9) were eliminated from the playoff chase when Miami beat the New York Jets on Saturday night.

The Chargers will miss the postseason for the third time in coach Mike McCoy’s four seasons and for the sixth time in six seasons overall. They’ve lost 21 of their last 30 games.

San Diego blew a fourth-quarter lead for the sixth time this season.

STADIUM SAGAS: Davis says he’s committed to moving the Raiders to Las Vegas, where a $1.9 billion stadium project has been approved, including $750 million in public money. Davis has from the end of the Raiders’ season until Feb. 15 to apply for relocation.

Spanos, son of owner Alex Spanos, appears to be leaning toward moving to Los Angeles and eventually joining the Rams in a stadium in Inglewood scheduled to open in 2019. Spanos angered the fan base last year with a failed attempt to move to Carson and share a stadium with the archrival Raiders.

After that failed, the Chargers-backed Measure C was overwhelmingly rejected by San Diego voters on Nov. 8. That would have raised $1.15 billion in increased hotel occupancy taxes for a $1.8 billion downtown stadium and convention center annex.


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