Chargers win and secure top draft spot
The San Diego Chargers beat the Oakland Raiders 21-14 at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday in front of 62,222 fans. With Arizona’s 18-17 win over Minnesota, the Bolts also secured the number one overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. The Chargers dominated both sides of the ball; only losing the special teams side of the game and LaDainian Tomlinson again decimated the Raiders defense to the tune of 260 yards from scrimmage.
The Chargers scored on their opening possession to get the early lead. After forcing a three-and-out, LaDainian Tomlinson went to work. He accounted for all but eleven of the 62 yards on the drive. The drive ended when Tomlinson ran one in from two yards out.
With less than five minutes to go until halftime, Darren Bennett punted the ball to Phillip Buchanon. After the first tackler, David Binn, missed, Buchanon went untouched 80 yards to tie the score at seven.
The Chargers struck again using the two minute drill to regain the lead, 14-7. Drew Brees opened the drive by hitting Antonio Gates for 27 yards. Then Tomlinson added a 27 yard run to the Oakland 18. After an incompletion, Brees hit David Boston in the back right corner of the end zone. With time to throw, Brees used a pump fake to freeze Buchanon, allowing Boston to get separation for the score.
After Terrence Kiel was offsides on the ensuing kickoff, Mike Scifres re-kicked a directional kick to the right sideline, landing at the 15. Doug Gabriel took the ball and raced left, following his blocks, to go untouched the rest of the way and tie the game up at 14 apiece with just :43 seconds to go until halftime.
The last score of the game came behind the able legs of Tomlinson. Accounting for every yard, except a 15 yard face mask penalty, Tomlinson went 48 yards in just four running plays, including a 35 yarder, to put the Chargers up for good.
The defense did the rest and the Raiders never got close to being in field goal range. The Chargers defense allowed just 35 yards passing on the day and sacked the QB five times in their victory. Donnie Edwards also added an interception in the final minutes.
The game sent the crowd, 70% Raider fans, home with a frown and a winter of bragging rights. Not only did the Chargers get the win over their hated rivals, they also earned the number one spot in the draft by virtue of the Arizona win over Minnesota.
Denis Savage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org