OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The San Diego Chargers didn't mind all
the garbage thrown their way after this one.
Question on the Chargers: Do you still think they're a "year away?"
The Chargers have proven me and lots of other people wrong. Their personnel and their coaching have put them over the top in Marty Schottenheimer's first year. He's done a great job of getting his players to buy into his system. And I believe the Chargers will be able to sustain their success in the second half. Next week's bye will help the defense to get healthy -- and to get even better.
Question on the Raiders: What's happened to the defense the past two weeks?
The Raiders' D had been stopping the run and preventing the big pass play. Last week, Marshall Faulk ran right through the Raiders, and this week they gave up too much through the air. They need to get the habits and the attitude they had earlier -- the kind of attitude that keeps teams out of the end zone and forces them to kick field goals.
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
Quarterback Drew Brees took a water bottle in the head, thrown
by a Raiders fan. "It might have been the hardest hit I took all
day,'' he said cheerfully.
LaDainian Tomlinson avoided the end-zone mess. He was on the
bottom of a celebratory pile after scoring the winning touchdown in
the Chargers' 27-21 overtime victory Sunday.
"They were trying to protect their home stadium,'' an
understanding Brees said of the often-raunchy Raider faithful, who
tossed anything they could find at the jubilant Chargers. "A
little celebration was warranted.''
Tomlinson ran for 153 yards, and his 19-yard score 3:38 into the
extra period ended the matchup between the AFC West's top teams.
The victory gave the Chargers (6-1) their best start since 1994,
when they went to the Super Bowl and lost to San Francisco.
Brees ran 1 yard to give San Diego a 21-14 lead with 7:18 left
before the Raiders answered with Ritchie's TD.
The Chargers have a one-game lead over Denver and a 1½-game edge
over the Raiders (4-2) in the division. Oakland had won the
previous four meetings and eight of nine.
Enter Marty Schottenheimer.
The first-year Chargers coach never seems to lose to the Silver
and Black -- no matter what job he has. Schottenheimer has won five
straight against the Raiders, though he hadn't faced them since
1998, during his final season in Kansas City.
"We've just managed to make plays when we had to win,'' he
said. "It has a lot more to do with the guys playing than the guy
talking to you.''
Leading up to Sunday's game, Schottenheimer said that his
Raider-hating days were over.
Maybe so. During pregame, members of Schottenheimer's staff
mingled with fans, and a San Diego official posed for several
photos with one of the Coliseum's most celebrated fans -- the
"Violator.'' The fan's face is painted with silver and black
stripes, and he wears No. 57. "Violator'' is written on the back
of his black jersey, and his uniform has silver spikes sticking up
from the shoulder pads.
Schottenheimer's teams have now beaten the Oakland/Los Angeles
Raiders 20 times in 25 games since 1985. In his decade of coaching
the Chiefs, his teams went 18-3 against the Raiders.
"I think maybe he kicks it up a notch for Raider Week,'' Brees
Tomlinson won the highly anticipated matchup of the Raiders'
third-ranked run defense against the NFL's No. 2 rushing offense,
with the second-year back doing almost all the damage.
Tomlinson carried the ball 39 times, and in addition to his
winning run, he caught a 4-yard TD pass from Brees.
"This is huge, a confidence booster,'' Tomlinson said.
Oakland had a chance to pull ahead with 11:44 left, but
Sebastian Janikowski missed a 48-yard field goal wide left, his
second miss of the game. He booted one off the right upright from
27 yards out after Oakland's first series.
Gannon completed 35 of 45 passes for 361 yards, three touchdowns
and an interception for the Raiders, who have lost two straight
after a 4-0 start.
San Diego's defense -- even without Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau -- didn't have Oakland looking like one of the NFL's most
Brees completed his first six passes and finished 16-of-25 for
170 yards and two TDs.
The Raiders were held scoreless in the first half for the first
time this year, and they finally got into the end zone on Gannon's
4-yard strike to Jerry Rice with 5:16 left in the third quarter.
The Raiders blew two early chances in the red zone.
"We felt like we could jump-start the offense, but we came out
of the first two drives with nothing,'' coach Bill Callahan said.
"That was the story of the day.''
Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson, who had been listed as
probable, did not play, and neither did Seau. Woodson is recovering
from a broken right shoulder he hurt Sept. 15 at Pittsburgh, while
Seau has a sprained ankle.
Rookie cornerback Phillip Buchanon, who had been in the starting
lineup since Woodson went down, broke his left wrist in the second
quarter after landing awkwardly trying to defend a pass play. He
had surgery Sunday night.
Raiders Kick returner Terry Kirby will miss the rest of the
season with a broken right leg. ... Raiders right guard Mo Collins
suited up for his first game of the season, but did not play. He
had surgery in late August to repair a torn meniscus in his left