OAKLAND (AP) — Philip Rivers took nearly 20 minutes to complete his first pass, the Los Angeles Chargers got gashed on a long fake punt and the offense put up a season low in yards.
Despite a few hiccups along the way, the Chargers still managed to pull off another win for their longest winning streak in nine years.
Rivers overcame the slow start to throw two touchdown passes, Melvin Gordon gained 165 yards and the Chargers won their sixth straight game, 20-6 over the struggling Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
“You got to win these games,” Rivers said. “Just find a way to win them. It doesn’t matter. I don’t care how pretty they are, I don’t care what the ratings are, all those things, third-down percentage. Yes, we acknowledge those and know we have to improve in those areas, but it’s just find a way to win.”
Rivers found his stride in time to throw an 11-yard TD pass to Keenan Allen in the second quarter to give the Chargers (7-2) the lead for good and a 66-yarder to Gordon on the opening drive of the second half.
Los Angeles coasted from there against the Raiders (1-8), who have lost five straight games by at least 14 points under coach Jon Gruden and have been outscored 75-9 in the past nine quarters in what has quickly become a lost season.
“This will be a year that a lot of us will never forget,” Gruden said. “It’s painful. It’s really hard. It’s painful. It’s going to be hard to sleep again, hard to get up in the morning.”
Oakland started quickly by controlling the ball for 23 of 29 plays in the first quarter and outgaining the Chargers by 129 yards. But Los Angeles allowed little after Melvin Ingram forced a fumble on a sack of Derek Carr early in the second quarter with the Raiders looking to add to a 3-0 lead.
Rivers responded to lead the Chargers to a field goal and then engineered a 91-yard drive at the end of the half that was capped by the throw to Allen in the front corner of the end zone.
Gordon, who had 93 yards rushing and 72 yards receiving, then put the game away when he caught a short pass from Rivers, broke a tackle by Gareon Conley, juked Reggie Nelson and raced in for the long score.
“I feel like every time a player gets the ball in their hands they want to take it to the house,” Gordon said. “It doesn’t always work out how you think it will. Sometimes some things happen with some help and you get sprung out down there.”
The Raiders missed opportunities to take a bigger lead while outgaining the Chargers 135-6 in the first quarter. Dwayne Harris was stopped by Derwin James on a shovel pass on fourth-and-goal from the 1 to deny the best chance for Oakland. Los Angeles then scored 10 points in the second quarter with a strip sack by Ingram denying Oakland a shot at a field goal and setting up one for the Chargers. Rivers hit Allen for the TD with 24 seconds left in the half.
Raiders rookie punter Johnny Townsend pulled off a fake punt on the opening drive for a 42-yard run. That was longer than his average punt of 41.9 yards coming into the game. Townsend then added his longest kick of the season with a 57-yarder in the second quarter. Townsend is the third player since the 1970 merger with a run of at least 40 yards and a punt of at least 50 in the same game, joining Cleveland’s Reggie Hodges, who did it for Cleveland in 2010, and Jeff Hayes for Washington in 1983.
“I completely blacked out on the play,” Townsend said. “I can’t even tell you what happened during it. We prepared all week and did a great job of seeing the look and reacting to it.”
The air quality for the game was at an unhealthy level because of wildfires in Butte County, about 150 miles to the north. The Air Quality Index was at 159 at kickoff, which is in the unhealthy zone, and smoke could be smelled throughout the stadium. The NFL had monitored the situation but the AQI never got near 200, the level where the game would have needed to be moved.
Chargers LB Denzel Perryman left the game with a knee injury on the opening drive. … Raiders WR Martavis Bryant (knee) left the game in the third quarter with an injury Gruden fears is serious.
Colts: Host the Broncos on Sunday.
Raiders: Visit the Cardinals on Sunday.
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