After back to back games where the Raiders were embarassed by inferior opponents, it was the unusual suspects who helped the Raiders bounce back and secure a win against the San Diego Chargers down in San Diego. If not for new quarterback Carson Palmer and back up running back Michael Bush, there was no way the Raiders win that game. Time for grades to be fun again.
Passing Offense: Agaisnt the Broncos, Palmer showed glimpses of the man who was once a top 5 quarterback in the NFL. Against the Chargers, Palmer just plain looked like a top 5 quarterback in the NFL. Palmer finished the game 14 of 20 for 299 yards and two touchdowns. He did throw a pick and fumble the ball, but both of those came as the result of getting hit from his blind side. He did not hold the ball too long and there was nothing he could have done about those hits. Meanwhile, he is also continuing to make the Raiders young receiving corps thrive as Denarius Moore finised the game with 5 catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Grade: A-
Rushing Offense: No Darren McFadden? No problem. Michael Bush continues to show that he is far and away the best back up running back in the NFL. Bush had a monster game against the Chargers as he finished with 157 yards on 30 carries and one touchdown. His average of 5.2 yards per carry against the Chargers is nothing but great. Taiwan Jones added another 39 yards to the cause on 7 touches for an average of 5.6 yards per carry. Grade: A+
Passing Defense: The Raiders bend but don't break pass defense was able to come away with a solid performance against the Chargers. Phillip Rivers finished the game with 274 yards and two touchdowns, but also had a pick on an ill advised pass and threw the ball a whopping 47 times. In addition, the Raiders were able to make star receiver Vincent Jackson a complete non issue. Grade: B+
Rushing Defense: The Oakland Raiders run defense is, for a lack of a better term, bi polar. One week the Raiders are giving up massive gains on the ground and look like they have no interest in stopping the run. The next week, they are absolutely smothering running backs and dominating the line of scrimage. This week was the latter. The Raiders held the Chargers to a combined 75 yards on the ground. Part of that was due to the fact that the Chargers threw the ball so much more than ran it, but part of the reason they threw it so much was because the running game was not working. Grade: A
Special Teams: It is a great thing when the Raiders win and Janikowski only attempts one field goal and it's from 23 yards out. Why is it great? Because the Raiders are scoring touchdowns instead of field goals. Another week where the special teams did not do a whole lot, but in a good way. There were no major kick returns for the Chargers, Janikowski was not needed much and Shane Lechler is, as always, the best punter in the NFL. Grade: A
Coaching: Last week I tore the Oakland Raiders coaching staff a new one. This week I can do nothing but pat them on the back. This was a huge win at a crucial time, and on a short week no less. The Raiders coaching staff did a good job of getting this team ready for San Diego despite rumors of malcontent in the locker room. Hue Jackson also called a very good game offensively. If not for the questionable fake punt, they would get an A. (I am fine with a fake punt, but a deep fade when you need a yard was not the best way of doing it.) Grade: A-
Overall: The Raiders looked really good against the Chargers. Though the score did not resemble a dominant game, the Raiders certainly looked dominant. They controlled both lines of scrimage and played hard throughout the entire game. This was easily their best performance since they beat the New York Jets at home in week three. Grade: A Up next, the 2-7 Minnesota Vikings on the road. We will see if the Raiders can keep up their road dominance when they take on Christian Ponder, Adrian Peterson and the Vikings.