Monday, September 14, 2009

Chargers, Raiders tied at 10 after third

Oakland Raiders running back Michael Bush, left, is brought down by San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle (32) as San Diego Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie (31) looks on during the first quarter of an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 14, 2009, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Sanchez)

OAKLAND, Calif. — The San Diego Chargers drove into Raiders territory midway through the third quarter but Oakland's Michael Huff intercepted a pass by Philip Rivers and the teams did little else on offense and remained tied at 10 after a sloppy third quarter Monday night.

Rivers hurt his cause with a 15-yard penalty for taunting and nearly threw another pick, but the Raiders were almost equally as inept. They went three-and-out on their first three possessions with JaMarcus Russell throwing seven straight incomplete passes before connecting with Zach Miller on a 25-yard strike with under a minute left for the team's first first down of the half.

The Chargers took a blow losing two offensive linemen. Center Nick Hardwick was carted off the field with a left leg injury midway through the third. He went down blocking on a pass play and was examined for several minutes before leaving. That came after San Diego lost right guard Louis Vasquez earlier in the third with a knee injury. He was taken to the locker room.

Both teams kicked late field goals in the second quarter, Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski booting a 37-yarder and Nate Kaeding answering with a 47-yarder 5 seconds before halftime.

Oakland thought it had a touchdown before Janikowski's kick. Russell hit rookie fourth-round pick Louis Murphy on a 19-yard pass, but the play was reviewed and overturned on replay by the officials. They determined the ball came loose from Murphy when he hit the ground.

LaDainian Tomlinson of the Chargers helped make up for a rare fumble in the first quarter by running 1 yard for a touchdown that tied the game at 7 with 4:45 remaining in the half.

Michael Bush gave the Raiders the early lead with a 4-yard touchdown run and the Oakland defense made several key plays to stymie San Diego.

The Raiders controlled play, outgaining the Chargers 216-74 in the first half. But the game was tied because of two turnovers, two long kickoff returns by the Chargers and the replay review.

The Chargers, who have won 11 straight in this lopsided AFC West rivalry, wasted a 66-yard kickoff return by Darren Sproles late in the first quarter. Newly acquired Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour made his impact felt right away, sacking Philip Rivers for a 5-yard loss in his debut in front of the Black Hole — then had another late in the first half. Fellow new Raider Greg Ellis then forced a fumble by Tomlinson that was recovered by Huff. It was Tomlinson's first fumble since Oct. 27, 2006.

Ellis sacked Rivers in the third.

Sproles had a 59-yard kickoff return after Janikowski's field goal to allow the Chargers to get into position for the tying field goal by Kaeding.

The Raiders outgained the Chargers 135-17 in the first quarter, getting as many yards on their first play — a 17-yard run by Bush — as the Chargers had in the whole period.

Oakland opened the game with both of its tailbacks on the field, moving Darren McFadden in motion as a receiver and keeping Bush in the backfield. Bush ran for 17 yards on the first play and that kept up all quarter.

The first drive ended without points when Russell threw an interception to Quentin Jammer from the San Diego 25.

After holding the Chargers to a three-and-out, Oakland moved the ball right down the field again, getting a 30-yard completion from Russell to Miller. Bush capped the drive with the 4-yard run on third-and-goal to make it 7-0.

The Raiders lost left guard Robert Gallery to a back injury midway through the second quarter but he returned with about 10 minutes left in the third. In his absence, center Chris Morris moved to guard and Samson Satele came in to play center.

Oakland is desperate to get back on track under coach Tom Cable. Beating former coach Norv Turner in the national spotlight would be a huge step in that direction.

These teams met on Monday night in the 2006 opener, with the Chargers winning 27-0. The Raiders have lost their last 10 appearances in prime time, dating to the start of the 2005 season and have been outscored 151-33 over the last six of those games.

Rookie Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, the No. 7 overall draft pick in April who signed a five-year contract that will guarantee him at least $23.5 million, earned the start but didn't have a catch. Russell threw his way six times. Two of the plays ended with penalties against San Diego and Heyward-Bey dropped the ball on one of those.


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