OAKLAND – Raiders defensive lineman Stacy McGee lines up near the center of the Raiders field goal blocking unit. It’s hard to get eyes in the backfield in that mass of humanity, but his ears tell him when a kicker sends a ball toward the uprights.
McGee got good push during San Diego’s game-tying field goal try with roughly two minutes left in Sunday’s AFC West clash, and then waited for a sound.
“I was listening for a thud,” McGee said, “and it never came.”
The field goal never took flight. San Diego holder/punter Drew Kaser bobbled the hold and couldn’t get it down for kicker Josh Lambo. They aborted the field goal, the Raiders got a turnover on downs and milked the clock to secure victory.
Most Raiders were thinking ahead to overtime or at least a last-minute scoring push, but the Chargers latest blunder changed all that.
“I was already kind of going ahead, ‘Hey, if we don’t block it and they make the kick, somehow we’re going to come out of here with a win regardless,’” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I was kind of thinking that way. Then all of a sudden, the ball squirted through there and we ended up gaining possession. At that point it’s like, ‘okay, this one you have to put away.’”
The Raiders received a gift, and were fine with how it turned out.
“Maybe the kicker wasn’t living right this week or something,” edge rusher Bruce Irvin said. “The football gods looked out for the Oakland Raiders today and we appreciate it.”
Finally home sweet home: The Raiders won their first home game of the season on Sunday in their second try. They also improved a weak home record under Del Rio, which raised to 4-6 against the Chargers.
Winning at home was a point of emphasis this week, especially after winning three straight on the road already this season. Del Rio wanted to add a road flare to this week and get his team dialed in at home. It worked out well.
“I think we do a really good job of when we travel,” Del Rio said. “We’ve got them kind of sequestered. There’s a routine and the lead up to the game is all of us are in it. I just wanted to make sure we were feeling that way leading up to our home games as well. That was addressed and emphasized this week.
“…We need to continue to put together wins at home. Our crowd was tremendous. There’s nothing like giving them the present of a great effort and a big win when we’re at home.”
Joseph’s first pick: It didn’t take long for Karl Joseph to get his first NFL interception. It came in his second start, on a long-arching pass from Chargers quarterback Phliip Rivers.
“It felt like it was in slow motion,” Joseph said. “I caught it like a punt, too. … Those are probably some of the hardest ones to catch. It felt like it was in the air forever. I was just happy I came down with it.”
Joseph also had a fumble recovery, six tackles and a pass breakup in the victory.
Carr, Cooper connect in end zone: Amari Cooper entered Sunday’s game without a touchdown catch. That streak ended on a 64-yard catch and run in the third quarter that cut the Chargers lead to 17-16.
There were certainly opportunities for more. Cooper caught a pass in the end zone but it was ruled incomplete because he didn’t get both feet in bounds. He was illegally pushed out of the back of the eod zone and didn’t get both feet back on the field of play before making what would’ve been a touchdown catch.
Carr and Cooper were happy to have one, but believed they should’ve had a few more.
“I was happy that we won,” Carr said, “but him and I looked at each other and said man we left too much out there.”
Cooper was locked in a favorable matchup most of the day. San Diego cornerbacks Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers missed this one with injury, and quality No. 3 cornerback Casey Hayward spent most of his day against Michael Crabtree. Cooper often worked against recent free agent Steve Williams, and was consequently targeted 12 times. He had six receptions for 138 yards and a score. It was the seventh time Cooper has exceeded 100 yards in 21 games.
This ‘n that: Starting rookie offensive lineman Vadal Alexander suffered an ankle injury during the game. Austin Howard stepped in when he was out. …The Raiders running game had 89 yards on 25 carries playing without starter Latavius Murray, who was out with a toe injury. … This marks the first time the Raiders have started 4-1 since 2002. …DT Stacy McGee had two sacks, two quarterback hits and two forced fumbles in the most productive game of his career. …K Sebastian Janikowki converted four field goals in a game for the 20th time in his career.