Raiders clinch first playoff berth in 14 years at ‘home’ game at San Diego – Yahoo Sports
Oakland Raiders fans know they might have to travel to Las Vegas to see their beloved team next season should the franchise relocate, as has been widely speculated. So a trip down the California coast was well worth it in many of their minds — especially with everything that was at stake in Week 15.
It was a win-and-in situation for the Raiders, who took care of business with a 19-16 win against the San Diego Chargers in what might have been their penultimate game at Qualcomm Stadium before possibly moving as well in the offseason.
It was a strange atmosphere Sunday in San Diego, with silver and black flooding the stadium. So who could the Raiders fans fight with on this day?
Options limited, they had no choice but to celebrate — and the players delivered the justification for it. The victory clinched the team’s first playoff berth since 2002, when the Raiders went from a Super Bowl contender to racking up 13 straight non-winning seasons. Derek Carr was 11 the last time the Raiders made the playoffs; leading receiver Amari Cooper was 8.
Now the Raiders are 11-3 this season with an explosive offense and a defense that has shown strong improvement over the past 10 quarters and one that collected three sacks, seven QB hits and two key turnovers, including the game-clinching interception of Philip Rivers with just over a minute left.
Head coach Jack Del Rio’s late challenge, overturning Carr’s scramble in the final minutes that gave the Raiders a key conversion prior to Sebastian Janikowski’s game-winning field goal, was another in a long line of very good late-game coaching decisions he has made this season. Carr was once again limited by his pinkie injury from a few weeks ago but was good enough with some big throws late. Really, the defense might have turned in its best performance of the season, all things consider. This was a Chargers team that rang up 31 points and 423 yards in the first meeting in Oakland but was held to 16 and 263, respectively on Sunday.
It has been a strange season-long party for Raiders fans who fear the team might leave but also can’t help but celebrate the 11 wins, a spot in the playoffs and perhaps one additional game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum if they can take the division over the final two weeks of the regular season. Given their offense and this team’s go-for-broke style, the Raiders will be a tough out no matter who they face in the playoffs.
And their fans will go see them anywhere they need to, if Sunday is any indication.
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