OAKLAND, Calif. – Oakland was rallying, Denver was losing and the Raiders had the San Diego Chargers backed up inside the 1 midway through the fourth quarter.
With the stage set for the Raiders to win the AFC West and end an eight-year playoff drought, Oakland’s defense once again failed.
Philip Rivers needed just four plays to drive the Chargers the length of the field, with his third touchdown pass being the decisive blow in San Diego’s 38-26 victory Sunday that ended Oakland’s playoff hopes.
“If you can’t stop a team with everything on the line, you don’t deserve to be a playoff team,” defensive tackle Richard Seymour said. “We didn’t get it done.”
Oakland (8-8) went into the day needing a win and some help to make the playoffs. The Broncos cooperated with a 7-3 home loss to Kansas City, but the Raiders couldn’t do their part by beating the Chargers (8-8).
“To find out it worked out the way you needed it to and to lose this one,” quarterback Carson Palmer said. “It’s going to be a long offseason.”
The Chargers could only celebrate playing the role of spoiler in what may have been coach Norv Turner’s final game in San Diego. If this was his last game, he ended his tenure with an offensive masterpiece as San Diego did not punt, committed just one turnover and gained 463 yards.
Rivers completed 19 for 26 passes for 310 yards and was at his best on a key drive in the fourth quarter after Oakland cut San Diego’s lead to 31-26 with 9:37 to go.
After Richard Goodman mishandled the kickoff to force the Chargers to start from inside their 1, Rivers completed a 20-yard pass to Malcom Floyd, Mike Tolbert ran for 40 yards and Rivers threw a 43-yard TD pass to Floyd to make it a two-score game.
Antoine Cason then intercepted Palmer with 4:36 to go at the San Diego 20 to seal the victory for the Chargers.
Oak—Heyward-Bey 3 pass from Palmer (Janikowski kick)
SD—Gates 38 pass from Rivers (Novak kick)
SD—Tolbert 1 run (Novak kick)
Oak—FG Janikowski 52
SD—Goodman 105 kickoff return (Novak kick)
Oak—FG Janikowski 43
SD—FG Novak 51
Oak—FG Janikowski 27
SD—Jackson 13 pass from Rivers (Novak kick)
Oak—FG Janikowski 32
Oak—Boss 22 pass from Palmer (Janikowski kick)
SD—Floyd 43 pass from Rivers (Novak kick)
|Total Net Yards||463||520|
|Time of Poss.||30:27||29:33|
RUSHING—San Diego, Tolbert 9-58, Brinkley 16-52, Jackson 1-41, Hester 2-5, Rivers 3-(minus 3). Oakland, Bush 19-66, Murphy 1-27, Palmer 2-6, Moore 1-3, Cartwright 1-1.
PASSING—San Diego, Rivers 19-26-1-310. Oakland, Palmer 28-43-1-417.
RECEIVING—San Diego, Floyd 7-127, Gates 5-106, Brinkley 3-12, Jackson 2-29, Crayton 1-23, Tolbert 1-13. Oakland, Heyward-Bey 9-130, Murphy 5-72, Moore 3-101, Boss 3-33, Reece 2-28, Ford 2-19, Bush 2-13, Myers 1-11, Ausberry 1-10.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—San Diego, Novak 44 (WR).