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Chargers Run Past Raiders for Win
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The Oakland Raiders entered the game with one of the top rushing defenses in the league, ranking ninth allowing just 103.9 yards per game.
The San Diego Chargers paid that no mind, proceeding to run over the Raiders to the tune of 148 yards and a 26-13 victory.
Ryan Mathews fell one yard short of his third straight 100-yard rushing game, finishing with 99. Still, that was enough to set a new career-high for yards in a season with 1,111, and the back still has another game to go.
“I’m very happy for Ryan Mathews,” said Head Coach Mike McCoy. “You guys all asked early on why he isn’t carrying the ball, why he isn’t doing this. But the kid just kept working extremely hard. After today’s game, it was a single season high for him. So give him a lot of credit. We’ve said from day one that we want unselfish players who just want to win. And he’s one of those kids, that’s all he did....There was that five-day span with 58 carries. That says a lot about him. It’s very deserving to see where he is right now. But against a very good defense I think we ran the ball efficiently.”
Two plays in particular symbolize the way Mathews has been carrying the rock. The first came in the second quarter. With just over three minutes to go in the half from the Oakland seven, Mathews ran hard up the middle, spun out of what looked like a surefire tackle at the line of scrimmage before splitting two Raiders around the four yard line to pound his way into the end zone.
While that touchdown showed his power, Mathews displayed some breakaway speed on a play in the third quarter. He took an inside handoff out of the shotgun and dashed through a large gap supplied by Nick Hardwick, Chad Rinehart and Ladarius Green. Mathews darted left and sped upfield for 34 yards to the Oakland 37-yard line.
Philip Rivers has been the man handing the ball off to the fourth-year rusher his entire career, and after the game he spoke at length about what has turned into Mathews’ best year to date.
“It’s been great,” he said. “He’s been very consistent all year. He’s had some unfortunate injuries. I’m just saying the obvious because I know what he’s been worn out about. The fumbles over the years, those happen with young running backs. But I think more than anything he’s had the tough injuries to deal with. You can’t help when you break your collarbone twice, both of them…the thumbs. Those are just tough luck, and he’s battled through and had a heck of a year. He’s fought like crazy all year, and he’s had a heck of a year. The running game in the last few weeks and all year long, our balance, has been a big key to our success.”
While Mathews is certainly worthy of the accolades, you also can’t forget about Danny Woodhead. The other main weapon out of the Bolts backfield ran for 52 yards on eight carries, good enough for 6.5 yards per attempt. He also chipped in with three catches for 16 yards.
“He’s flat out done a great job for us all year long,” said D.J. Fluker. “Running the ball and as a receiver and also out in the slot, he’s done a great job. You couldn’t ask for a better guy to be a part of the Chargers.”
Overall, it was a total team effort that led to Mathews and Woodhead’s big day at Qualcomm, which McCoy was quick to point.
“(It’s a) credit to the other players also,” he said. “The offensive line, everyone, the whole team. All other ten guys on the field, Philip checking the right plays at the right time and receivers committing to being an impact in the running game coming down, blocking and doing it the right way.”