Raiders keep Chargers winless
OAKLAND, Calif. — Rich Gannon and Jerry Rice waited until the final minutes — and a few extras — to get the Oakland Raiders rolling.
Sebastian Janikowski made a 46-yard field goal with 5:01 left in overtime, as the Raiders rallied from a 14-point deficit late in regulation Sunday for a 34-31 win over the San Diego Chargers.
The victory could breathe life into the AFC champion Raiders (2-2), who were unimpressive in their first three games as well as in the first 54 minutes of this one. After struggling to execute all afternoon, the Raiders’ offense came alive in the final six minutes of regulation for two scores.
They were led by Gannon, who recovered from another bad start with three fine scoring drives. He finished 26 of 43 for 348 yards and three touchdowns, while Rice had seven receptions for 118 yards.
Alvis Whitted’s 36-yard touchdown catch capped a 60-yard drive that pulled the Raiders within 31-24 with 4:38 left. Oakland’s defense forced a punt, and Gannon found Rice twice before Charlie Garner rolled through the San Diego defense on a draw for a 24-yard score, tying it with 1:24 left.
After San Diego’s second overtime punt, Gannon hit Rice for a 29-yard gain on Oakland’s first play. Gannon moved the Raiders from their 8 to the San Diego 28, where Janikowski’s kick split the uprights.
LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 187 yards — 55 on a beautiful scoring run — and also threw a touchdown pass to Drew Brees, but the Chargers (0-4) wasted a golden opportunity for their first win in regulation since last Oct. 13. With a monumental defensive collapse, San Diego lost its eighth straight dating back to last season.
Tim Brown and Doug Jolley also caught touchdown passes from Gannon, but the Raiders didn’t shake their offensive malaise until the fourth quarter.
After last week’s embarrassing loss at Denver, Oakland coach Bill Callahan promised a return to hard-hitting, run-oriented football. It didn’t happen, with San Diego’s defense forcing the Raiders into a disjointed game plan of tentative runs and plenty of the short passes they’ve used for years.
There also was poor execution by Oakland’s veterans despite the return of All-Pro center Barret Robbins, who reclaimed his starting spot after losing it in the wake of his Super Bowl drinking binge.
Rice dropped four passes, while Gannon sprayed the ball over, behind and far past his receivers. Brown finished with six catches for 110 yards.
The Raiders also played without linebacker Bill Romanowski, who missed the first game of his 16-season NFL career with the effects of a concussion from earlier in the month. Romanowski had played in 243 consecutive games — the fifth-longest streak among active players at the start of the season.
While the Raiders labored through the first three quarters, Brees and Tomlinson appeared to be having fun. San Diego capped its first scoring drive with a classic trick play: Tomlinson threw a high-arching pass to Brees, who ran under it and dove at the end zone cone for a 21-yard score.
Oakland’s defense clamped down in the second half, but San Diego appeared to seal a win when Lorenzo Neal rushed for a 3-yard score with 5:59 to play for a 31-17 lead.
San Diego got near the Oakland 30 in the final seconds, but time ran out before Brees could spike the ball.