It was a victory for the Chargers and a moral victory for the Raiders, this 24-21 San Diego win in the rain on the final Sunday of the regular season.
It also will likely be the final time Norv Turner acts as a head coach in the NFL, with his firing and General Manager A.J. Smith’s dismissal likely coming in the next 72 hours.
For Dennis Allen, the Raiders’ first year head coach, there was a glimpse of sunshine in an otherwise dreary season — a budding young player at quarterback in Terrelle Pryor who put on a dazzling show of scrambling, play-making and leadership while under fire.
San Diego finishes (7-9) and will miss the playoffs for the third year in a row doing it Norv’s way.
The Raiders go home (4-12) knowing they’ve cleaned out the house of overpaid underachievers and bad characters, so there is probably some hope in the headquarters of the Black Hole.
The season started with an ugly win over the Raiders on opening day when Oakland lost its long snapper and mishandled three punts, giving the Chargers just enough cushion to win that first weekend.
The season ended with a struggle of a win over an ugly Raiders team that self-destructed enough to prevent a victory. In typical Turner fashion, his team played down to the level of its opponent.
Michael Spurlock took the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and then saved the game, recovering an onside kick with one minute left, preventing the Raiders from mounting one last drive.
Oddly, Spurlock and TD-catching receiver Danario Alexander were off-the-street acquisitions, while the big money players — Eddie Royal, Robert Meachem and Malcom Floyd hardly contributed — one of the reasons, Smith will likely leave as general manager by the end of the week.
It was a typical Raiders-Chargers game — heated moments, bunches of penalties, cheap shots and two ejections. The only difference was this game didn’t mean much in the history of a rivalry that has seen the Holy Roller game, Dan Fouts’ broken nose and Stan Humphries’ bombs-away passes in games that meant something.
Quarterback Philip Rivers took some shots, sacks and hits, but made some plays. Eric Weddle converted another fake-punt run into a first down that led to a key early game touchdown.
The defense chased Pryor all over the parking lot, but the 6-foot-6 second year player making his first start was never intimidated.
Pryor drove his team inside the 10 yard line at the half, but could not get the field goal unit on the field for a score. He underthrew an open receiver on the goal line, missing a certain touchdown that turned into a Quentin Jammer interception.
The Raiders left 10 points on the field for sure, but it was a kid quarterback learning on the job.
Leaving the field, Turner smiled, knowing he gets a $2 million buyout to walk away from the wreckage he turned the franchise into. Or he winds up as an offensive coordinator somewhere else.
He leaves having had three good seasons, winning with Marty Schottenheimer’s players. He leaves also with three substandard seasons, turning the glittering array of talent into a (24-24) team since its last playoff game.
Owner Dean Spanos faces the prospect now of eating some $10 million in contracts if he blows out both the general manager, head coach and the assorted assistants that still have contracts remaining.
Spanos’ teams have had just 10 winning seasons in 26 years of ownership.
The community should not forget who makes all the decisions and should condemn the owner, while cheering for the ouster of the football people.
You can feel good for hard-working players who got a win. But you cannot find anything good about the franchise. The Bolts didn’t beat a team with a winning record this year. They endured a stretch of losing seven of eight games. Yes, they won three of their last four, but that was against the non-playoff Steelers, the collapsing circus tent New York Jets and the woeful Raiders who have 111 losses in the last nine years — an NFL record.
Glad this season is over, but I cannot forgive and forget what ownership-leadership did to turn an elite franchise to a middle-of-the-road mess.
Better days have to come for Chargers fans.
The last three years of game days have been very bad. There’s not much difference right now between San Diego, Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Buffalo and Kansas City – all losers, except, it doesn’t snow here.
But the Chargers face a challenge shoveling out from under all the mistakes the Spanos-Smith-Turner crew made with this team.
Next season has to begin in the next couple of days.