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Ravens fans could have learned a lot about their favorite team’s upcoming opponent by watching Monday night’s Week 1 battle between the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders.
And that’s not to mention the Raiders, whom the Ravens travel to see Jan. 3, 2010.
Both teams fought hard, but it was the Chargers that won 24-20 in the end.
It took nearly all of regulation to get to that point, anyway. With only 18 seconds left, San Diego running back Darren Sproles crossed the goal line for the game-winner.
Many pundits had predicted the Chargers to take this one in a romp. Not so. The Raiders were in it for most of the night.
After the first half, they boasted 216 total yards on offense compared to the Chargers’ 74 yards. That was the same Oakland offense that was ranked 29th in the league last year. The Raiders’ ground game, led by Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, racked up 148 rushing yards, many of them coming through the interior of the line.
That production from the running backs slowed a Chargers pass rush that is welcoming the return of sack-master Shawne Merriman this year. San Diego did not tally a sack until Ogemdi Nwagbuo did in the final three minutes.
Another notable factor in the Raiders’ victory bid was tight end Zach Miller. Quarterback JaMarcus Russell only completed 12 passes for 208 yards, but six of those completions went to Miller for 96 yards.
But, the Chargers prevailed on a gritty 89-yard touchdown drive in the final 2:30 engineered by quarterback Philip Rivers, who went 6-of-7 for 79 yards. It was his 10th career fourth-quarter comeback victory. That is an impressive statistic considering this is only River’s sixth season.
The outcome, which was decided on an inside handoff to the spritely Sproles as the clock ticked down, showed that both future Ravens opponents are both scrappy. The Chargers should not be counted out, and the Raiders are not going to roll over for anyone.
With five days before Baltimore takes the field at Qualcomm Stadium, the Chargers will undoubtedly work hard to fix what went wrong for them.
So, as some Ravens fans would like to think the purple and black are slated for domination following their 38-24 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, Monday Night Football should serve as a reminder that any team can win on any weekend.
Chargers fans may have been served that reminder on their favorite team’s most recent trip to Oakland.
Injury Updates from Cali: Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson left the game with a sprained ankle. Head coach Norv Turner said that it was not deemed serious, as Tomlinson still took the field sporadically throughout the second half. The injury occurred on a play where Tomlinson fumbled for the first time in 987 touches.
San Diego’s offensive line got really banged up. Right guard Louis Vasquez suffered a knee injury and walked off the field to get X-rays and further tests. Center Nick Hardwick went down on the ensuing drive with a foot injury. He left the stadium on crutches and wearing a walking boot.
Both are starters, and that left San Diego with only five available offensive linemen.
And, the team reported arm injuries to defensive tackles Luis Castillo and Jamal Williams, while linebacker Antwan Applewhite had a hamstring injury.