OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- San Diego's slow, uninspired start nearly
cost the Chargers a share of first place.
And they knew it.
Antonio Gates had eight receptions for 101 yards and a
touchdown, LaDainian Tomlinson ran 37 times for 164 yards and a
score, and the Chargers won their fourth straight game, 23-17 over
the Raiders on Sunday.
Drew Brees passed for 226 yards and also ran for a touchdown to
help the Chargers (7-3) beat the Raiders for the second time in
three weeks after their 42-14 win on Halloween.
"This time around, they made it much more interesting and
exciting," Chargers linebacker Steve Foley said. "I think their
energy was a lot higher. They had the kind of attitude that, 'We're
not going to lose this game at home.'
"We made too many mistakes and let them back in the game."
San Diego figured its rematch with the Raiders would be much
closer than the Chargers' romp last month.
San Diego swept the season series for the first time in 12 years
and maintained a tie for first place in the AFC West with Denver,
which won 34-13 at New Orleans. The Chargers play at Kansas City
next week before hosting the Broncos on Dec. 5. Denver, meantime,
will host Oakland on Sunday.
"Good teams don't always play their best, but we found a way to
win. That's the bottom line," Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer
said. "It was the kind of game I expected it would be."
Oakland's Doug Gabriel had a 15-yard TD reception negated with
7:54 remaining after rookie right tackle Robert Gallery was flagged
for an illegal block in the back -- another mistake in a season
defined by missed opportunities.
Instead, Oakland got a 31-yard field goal from Sebastian
Janikowski and fell short again. The Raiders are 3-7 to start a
season for only the fourth time since 1964, and owner Al Davis
looked glum standing alone in the locker room watching his dejected
Both teams had two weeks to think about this rematch with their
bye last weekend.
Kerry Collins, who spent extra time in the film room during
Oakland's week off, went 18-for-30 for 227 yards and two touchdowns
and didn't throw an interception for the first time in nine games
dating to last season with the Giants. It was one of his most
efficient games since taking over for injured Rich Gannon in Week
He did miss two long passes to Ronald Curry in the Raiders'
"I felt like I played better today," Collins said. "I feel
like I'm getting more and more comfortable working in this offense.
I feel like I'm seeing the field better. I have a better
understanding of what we're trying to get done."
Gates, who scored twice in the teams' first meeting, scored his
ninth TD of the year and sixth in the Chargers' last three games on
an 11-yard pass from Brees in the first quarter. Gates also drew
several penalties against Oakland's improving defense.
Brees ran untouched 6 yards for a score in the second quarter
and Tomlinson -- as healthy as he's been in six weeks after dealing
with a groin injury -- also had a 6-yard scoring run early in the
Teyo Johnson, inactive for the first eight weeks, pulled the
Raiders within 16-14 on his 8-yard reception late in the third
quarter. Johnson got his second career touchdown on just the first
pass of the year thrown to the former Stanford star, who started
five games last season as a rookie.
Curry caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Collins late in the
second quarter for Oakland, which snapped a five-game losing streak
with a 27-24 win at Carolina on Nov. 7.
The Raiders showed signs of consistency on defense. They kept
San Diego out of the end zone from the 1 late in the third quarter
-- a stand highlighted by defensive end Tyler Brayton's deflection
of a pass headed for a wide-open Gates in the back of the end zone.
The Chargers settled for Nate Kaeding's 19-yard field goal.
The Raiders were held without a first down and to only 16 yards
in the first quarter. Oakland finally got a first down 8:35 before
halftime when Collins hit Porter for a 17-yard gain, which led to
The Raiders elevated WR John Stone from the practice squad
before the game. ... Oakland's cheerleaders, the Raiderettes, were
slowed getting into their locker room because the locks had been
changed. ... Oakland also began 3-7 in 1987, 1997 and '03.
On the Net:
San Diego Chargers: http://www.chargers.com
Oakland Raiders: http://www.raiders.com
Denver Broncos: http://www.denverbroncos.com
National Football League: http://www.nfl.com