Chargers avoid scare vs Raiders; prep for KC
Oct. 14, 2014
SAN DIEGO (AP) — For the last five minutes, Philip Rivers and rookies Branden Oliver and Jason Verrett were brilliant for the streaking San Diego Chargers.
Not so much the first 55 minutes on Sunday, when the Chargers stumbled around before coming up with big plays in the fourth quarter to turn back the surprisingly pesky Oakland Raiders 31-28.
The Chargers improved to 5-1, tied with Philadelphia and Dallas for the NFL's best record.
The Chargers have won five straight. The past three were against teams with a combined 1-16 record and starting either rookie or second-year quarterbacks.
The competition gets tougher Sunday when the Chargers host the Kansas City Chiefs, who are coming off their bye.
Pretty much everybody underestimated the Raiders, who were playing their first game under interim coach Tony Sparano.
The Raiders led three times, including with 10 minutes left after rookie Derek Carr threw his fourth touchdown pass of the day, a 6-yarder to Andre Holmes to make it 28-21.
"It was tough. We were down. Kicking, scratching and clawing away," Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd said Monday. "At one point it didn't seem like we were going to pull it off, but we've got a lot of guys that stepped up."
Floyd said it was tough because "they threw some things we weren't expecting, some schemes we weren't expecting. They started off fast. I don't know if it was them getting off a bye week or not. They seemed like they were out there flying around."
The Chargers avoided an upset loss thanks to Oliver, who scored on a 1-yard run to put the Chargers ahead by three with 1:56 left, and Verrett, who made a leaping interception with 1:13 left. Verrett grew up in Northern California and his brother works for the Raiders.
Rivers continued his torrid play, completing 22 of 34 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns. His rating was 123.8, giving him a 120 or higher rating for an NFL-record fifth straight game.
There were rough spots, though, particularly on defense. Carr completed 18 of 34 passes for 282 yards, including TD throws of 77 yards to Holmes and 47 yards to Brice Butler.
Coach Mike McCoy declined to give updates on two key players who were injured Sunday, wide receiver Eddie Royal (ribs) and cornerback Brandon Flowers (groin).
McCoy appeared irritated Monday when asked why he didn't use a timeout during the Oakland drive that ended with Sebastian Janikowski missing a 53-yard field goal attempt as time expired in the first half with the score tied at 14.
"It worked out right, right? I'm not going to second-guess any calls we made in the game," McCoy said. "According to me it worked out exactly how I wanted it. He missed it. It worked out perfect to me. I'm not going to second-guess it. We did it and he missed it so it worked out just perfect."
McCoy said he won't second-guess himself, offensive coordinator Frank Reich, defensive coordinator John Pagano or special teams coordinator Kevin Spencer.
"I'm going to do every play, every second of every football game what I think is in the best interest and I'm not going to second-guess it," McCoy said. "I'm not going to go back and say Frank didn't do this, John didn't do this, Kevin didn't do this.
"Hey, it all starts with me as the head coach and I'm going to do everything I can, and every decision I make is in the best interest. ... We're not going to come in here and give an explanation for every single thing we do."
The Chargers meet the Chiefs for the first time since Dec. 29, when San Diego won in overtime to clinch the AFC's final playoff berth. Having already clinched a wild-card berth, the Chiefs rested 20 of 22 starters.
It still wasn't easy for the Bolts, who allowed 332 yards and watched Ryan Succop push a 41-yard field goal attempt wide right with 4 seconds left in regulation.
The league later said the officials missed a penalty against San Diego that would have given Succop another shot from 5 yards closer.
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