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Slow Start Put Bolts Behind the Eight Ball

Posted Oct 7, 2013

The Chargers were never able to overcome a quick 17-point hole they found themselves in.

The Chargers kicked off the latest game in NFL history with a sleepy first quarter that quickly turned into a nightmare.

Photo Gallery: Chargers vs. Raiders | Top Photos | More Photos

From the opening kickoff, the Raiders capitalized on the Bolts slow start.  They quickly forced a Philip Rivers interception, scored two first quarter touchdowns, and rode that early momentum to a 17-0 lead heading into halftime.

That's not how Mike McCoy said he wanted his team to come out in its first divisional game of 2013.

“We just got off to such a bad start tonight,” he said after the game. “When you’re down the way we were at half, it comes down to turning the ball over five times… It’s hard enough for teams to go the distance (of the field) in this league. You have to minimize mistakes and not give people things.”

Things got off to an ominous start only three plays into the game. On third down and long, Rivers targeted Eddie Royal out of his drop.  Royal got tangled up with Raiders corner Tracy Porter, though, and couldn't get to the open space Rivers thought he'd occupy.

The interception wasn’t hard to corral – Rivers said it was a miscommunication between him and Royal.  Raiders safety Usama Young had enough time to trap the ball against his pads like it was a punt.  But one play after the pick, Terrelle Pryor bombed the ball to Rod Streater to put the Chargers behind the eight ball less than two minutes into the game.

“I wish I didn’t throw it – better Mike (Scifres) punt it than for me to throw it,” Rivers said of his first interception.  “Obviously, it’s a poor play on my part.”

But this slow start was a team effort. When the Raiders gained the quick lead, the offense couldn’t sustain a drive in response and went three-and-out.  When the Raiders regained the ball, the defense couldn’t corral the scrambling Pryor as he led a 13-play drive ending with his second touchdown toss.

“That’s 14 points directly off our turnovers and mistakes,” Rivers said.

The first quarter whistle blew and the Bolts were down 14 points.  Raiders punter Marquette King boomed an oddly spinning punt after the defense forced a three and out.  A gunner closed in on Eddie Royal and as he looked the ball in, it popped loose and a pile of Raiders leapt on what would be the Bolts’ second turnover.

McCoy said that Royal’s gaffe shouldn’t be pinned on the receiver completely.

“No one tries to make mistakes,” McCoy said. “Give the Raiders some credit – they caused the turnovers. We’ve got to protect the ball in all three phases.”

While the Chargers showed a lot of heart in a valiant comeback attempt, it ended up being too little too late.  A dwindling game clock might’ve been less of an issue if the Chargers entered the locker room at halftime without a three-score hole.  As a result, it left the team with a razor-thin margin of error, and in the final two minutes of the game, Rivers threw two interceptions with his team down 10 points.

“It should have never come down to that,” Rivers said. “I’m not saying we should have won in an easy fashion, I’m just saying those plays obviously are big. But when you dig the hole we dug then those are even bigger because you can’t afford any mishap.”
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