Chargers vs. Raiders: New Era of Excellence on Hold in 22-14 Loss

The new era of Oakland Raiders football has officially started, but "excellence" is not a word many would attach to an eight-point loss to the visiting San Diego Chargers.

Oakland’s offense could only manage 14 points with Carson Palmer and Darren McFadden playing together in a regular season game for the first time. The special teams unit struggled much like it did during the preseason, and the difficulties were only magnified when long snapper Jon Condo was forced to leave the game with a head injury.

Perhaps the positive that came out of the game was the play of Oakland’s defense. The Raiders held the Chargers to one offensive touchdown and five field goals despite a huge field-position disadvantage.

The defense could not overcome numerous mental errors and miscues that cost the Raiders valuable field position. The team fumbled four times—one was lost, one resulted in negative yardage and the other two were bad snaps by replacement long snapper Travis Goethel, who hadn’t done any long snapping since high school seven years ago, according to Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group.

To make matters worse, the Raiders had another punt blocked and committed six penalties for 35 yards, including a pair of encroachment penalties by Tommy Kelly that twice extended a San Diego drive.

On a night when the Raiders could have used an explosive play or two to overcome the mental mistakes, there were none to be had. The Palmer and McFadden marriage appeared solid, but neither of them had many friends outside their relationship. McFadden touched the ball a total of 28 times, more than five times as much as any other offensive player.  

The Raiders didn’t complete many passes down the field, and Palmer was content to dump the ball off to McFadden and let him do as much damage as he could. The Chargers limited the Raiders offense and forced two three-and-out drives in the p...

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