NFL: Chargers beat Raiders 22-14 in opener
Oakland, Calif. • Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers capitalized on their opponent's mistakes instead of making errors of their own.
Rivers threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Malcom Floyd and Nate Kaeding kicked five field goals to spoil Dennis Allen's debut as Oakland coach by beating the Raiders 22-14 on Monday night.
The Raiders were looking to start a new era on a positive note but were done in by an offense that couldn't score a touchdown until the final minute and three botched punts after an injury to Pro Bowl long snapper Jon Condo.
The Chargers did enough to win on a night they started undrafted rookie Mike Harris at left tackle and were missing starting running back Ryan Mathews and receiver Vincent Brown to injuries.
San Diego protected Harris by throwing short often with 16 of Rivers' 24 completions going to running backs and tight ends. Rivers threw for 231 yards, but was sacked just once and did not turn the ball over after having 20 interceptions a year ago.
Oakland had its own problems with injuries. The absence of deep-threat receivers Denarius Moore (hamstring) and Jacoby Ford (left foot) left Carson Palmer mostly throwing underneath to Darren McFadden, who caught a career-high 13 passes. A head injury to Condo in the second quarter proved to be even more significant when backup long snapper Travis Goethel had to fill in.
Early in the third quarter, the Raiders lined up to go for it on fourth-and-2 from the San Diego 48. But after a penalty for 12 men in the huddle, Oakland decided to punt. Goethel's snap rolled back to Lechler, who was tackled for a loss, giving San Diego the ball at the Raiders 39. That set up a 28-yard field goal by Kaeding.
After Oakland was stopped on its next drive, Lechler set up closer to Goethel, whose snap made it back in the air. But Dante Rosario broke through for the first block against Lechler since 2006 a year before Condo joined the team. The Chargers once again had to settle for a short field goal and led 16-6 heading into the fourth quarter.
Goethel rolled another snap back early in the fourth quarter, once again giving San Diego the ball in Oakland territory, setting up Kaeding's career-high tying fifth field goal to make it 22-6.
Palmer finally got Oakland into the end zone with 54 seconds left on a 2-yard pass to rookie Rod Streater and the two connected for a 2-point conversion to make it 22-14. But San Diego recovered the onside kick and iced the game.
Palmer went 32 for 46 for 297 yards.
The Raiders had little trouble moving the ball in the first half but could not get into the end zone and trailed 10-6 at the break.
Oakland gained 204 yards but settled for field goals of 51 and 19 yards by Sebastian Janikowski. Another prime scoring drive ended when Streater fumbled at the San Diego 29.
The Chargers used two long passes by Rivers and penalties by Oakland on their two scoring drives. Robert Meacham beat Ron Bartell on a 46-yard deep ball to set up Kaeding's 23-yard field goal in the first quarter. Rivers hit Floyd on a 23-yarder on a drive that was extended by three Oakland penalties that have San Diego a first down, including two offside penalties by Tommy Kelly on third down. Rivers capped the drive by escaping pressure and finding an open Floyd for a 6-yard score.
The Raiders set an NFL record with 163 penalties last season, giving opponents 58 first downs by penalties.
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