November 11, 2011 by staff
Raiders Chargers, Carson Palmer looked like an NFL quarterback again, not like a guy who had settled into semi-retirement in Southern California.
Philip Rivers looked, well, like the turnover-prone quarterback that he’s been since opening day.
Palmer threw two touchdown passes and Michael Bush ran 30 times for a season-high 157 yards and one touchdown to lead the Oakland Raiders to a 24-17 win over San Diego on Thursday night, the Chargers’ fourth straight loss.
The Raiders (5-4) broke a two-game losing streak and took a half-game lead over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.
Palmer threw touchdown passes of 33 and 26 yards to Denarius Moore in his second start and third appearance since being acquired in a trade with Cincinnati. He’d been semi-retired and living in Del Mar, just north of San Diego, before being traded. He lives next door to Chargers coach Norv Turner. Palmer was 14-of-20 for 299 yards, with one interception.
Bush helped carry the load for the Raiders with his running and also had three catches for 85 yards.
The Chargers (4-5) looked dismal most of the night and lost left tackle Marcus McNeill, right guard Louis Vasquez and linebacker Takeo Spikes to injuries.
The Raiders have won three straight against the Chargers. Before that, San Diego had won 13 straight in a rivalry that dates to the birth of the AFL.
With the Chargers threatening to tie it, Rivers was intercepted in the end zone by Matt Giordano with 3:22 left. It was Rivers’ NFL- and career-high 15th interception. Rivers was sacked on consecutive plays near midfield to end the game. He fumbled on the final play, giving him an NFL-high 19 turnovers.
Rivers was 23-of-47 for 274 yards. He was sacked six times as the Raiders overwhelmed Brandyn Dombrowski, who replaced McNeill at left tackle.
The Raiders had 14-point leads in the second and third quarters, and San Diego could never quite catch up.
San Diego struggled in the first half, going three-and-out four straight times after getting a 20-yard field goal by Nick Novak on the opening drive.
Rivers was only 4-of-11 for 44 yards for a passer rating of 49.1. By comparison, Raiders punter Shane Lechler had a rating of 39.6 by going 0-for-1. Sebastian Janikowski has a sore hamstring, so the Raiders tried a fake punt from the Chargers’ 34 on their first drive. Lechler threw a pass to Jacoby Ford, who was mauled by Quentin Jammer because pass interference can’t be called in a punt formation.
Bush scored on a 2-yard leap over the pile late in the first quarter and Janikowski kicked a 23-yard field goal on the next drive. Palmer threw a 33-yard scoring pass to Moore for a 17-3 lead that held up at halftime.
The Chargers finally came to life on the first drive of the second half, capped by rookie Vincent Brown’s leaping catch of a 30-yard touchdown pass in double coverage, his first NFL score, to pull to 17-10.
Rivers completed five passes on the drive, one more than he had in the first half, and the Chargers gained 80 yards, compared to 65 yards total in the first half.
The Raiders pushed the lead to 24-10 on the next drive after Palmer found Moore for a 26-yard score. Two plays earlier, Bush gained 55 yards on a screen pass.
Brown appeared to come down with another great touchdown catch in the third quarter, this one for 33 yards. But referee Ed Hochuli overturned it on replay, saying that since the defender landed out of bounds with his hand on the ball, it was considered out of bounds.
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