Maybe the Oakland Raiders should start every home game at 8:30 p.m.
The Raiders, with only one win in their first four this season, came out hot Sunday night in building a 17-0 lead en route to a 27-17 victory over the San Diego Chargers at O.co Coliseum, then watched No. 1 draft pick D.J. Hayden lock up the victory with an interception in his own end zone with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
Even though playing without starting tailback Darren McFadden and center Steve Wisniewski, the Raiders offense shocked the Chargers early. After picking off a Philip Rivers pass on the Chargers’ first possession, the Raiders went up 7-0 on their first play from scrimmage on a 44-yard pass from Terrelle Pryor to Rod Streater. After stopping San Diego’s next drive, the Raiders then marched from their own 12-yard line to go up 14-0 on Pryor’s 2-yard TD pass to Denarius Moore.
A Sebastian Janikowski field goal of 47 yards gave Oakland a 17-10 halftime lead.
The Raiders sent up 24-3 late in the third quarter when Charles Woodson returned a San Diego fumble 25 yards for a TD, and the game looked as if it might be a rout. But the Chargers responded with two fourth-quarter TDs to make the game close, and were marching toward another score with less than two minutes remaining in the game, with third-and-goal from the Oakland 4, when rookie corner Hayden picked off a pass in the end zone. The Chargers got the ball back one more time, but a late Rivers heave down the field fell into the arms of Woodson, and the Raiders had their second victory of the season.
It was the first interception of Hayden’s pro career, and it came after a rough first four-plus NFL games. It also made up for a pass interference call against him just moments before that helped San Diego get deep in Oakland territory. As Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted, "Raiders fans liking the D.J. Hayden pick more now."
Pryor was strong, completing 18-of-23 throws for two TDs and no picks, and also rushed 11 times for 31 yards – while also keeping plays alive by eluding the San Diego rush. His favorite targets were Moore (five catches for 84 yards) and Streater (three for 56).
With McFadden out, Rashad Jennings (41 yards rushing) and Marcel Reece (32) helped pick up the slack.
It’s a big division win for the Raiders, who now face the 5-0 Chiefs in Kansas City next Sunday.