SAN DIEGO – Quarterback Derek Carr believes the Raiders always have an extra home game on the slate when they play in San Diego.
Raider Nation routinely gobbles up tickets when their team plays at Qualcomm Stadium – it’s the closest game for a massive Los Angeles fan contingent – but they blacked out the building on Sunday afternoon.
The Chargers’ largest crowd of the year seemed to be 75 percent Raiders fans, spurred on by the Raiders solid season and the ability to clinch a playoff spot with a win.
“It seems like a strange thing, but that’s just how it is when we come here,” Carr said after a 19-16 victory clinched a playoff berth. “When we come to San Diego, our fans turn it into a home game. We feel like we get nine home games a year. It’s no disrespect to them; it’s just how our fans come out and support us.”
Raiders fans cheered wildly, especially when the Chargers were deep in their own territory. Longer tenured Raiders expected a vocal contingent, though maybe not to such a dramatic extent.
Newbies were left in awe. Count Bruce Irvin among them. He was able to pump up the crowd while the Chargers attempted a comeback.
“It was crazy,” Irvin said. “I’ve never been in an away stadium where the away fan base just took over the game like that. When I was pumping the crowd up, it felt like I was at the Coliseum. Raider Nation definitely played a part in us bringing it back to Oakland. We appreciate the support, and hopefully we can get that for the rest of the year.”
The Chargers used a silent count all afternoon, and the team chose not announce their starters before the game. They said it was to come out as a team, but it likely had more to do with concerns over the home team getting booed. That happened during pregame warm-ups, and would’ve happened during a role call.
“It was a road game,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. “…We were ready for it and we kind of embraced it. There was some uniqueness in, ‘hey, let’s extend their berth into the season one more week in front of essentially their fans and their place.’ We were right there. We just couldn’t get it done.”
The Raiders knew what was at stake for a fan base that had suffered for so long. They were happy to reward such a massive contingent with a win.
“It was pretty awesome to see,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “…There were a lot of black shirts out there. A lot of silver and black, a lot of pride, and a lot of happy people right now.”