Raiders, Call Just Haunt the Chargers : Pro football: Raiders special teams coach Steve Ortmayer can delight in 9-7 victory. Holding call nullifies potential touchdown for Chargers.
The Raiders win 9-7, and Steve Ortmayer’s special teams stand tall in victory.
Ortmayer, who once was the Chargers’ director of football operations, helped complete the job Sunday night. Ortmayer’s special teams produced three field goals, including a career-best 53-yarder from Jeff Jaeger, and knocked down John Carney’s 44-yard game-winning attempt with 1:57 to play.
The Raiders (9-4) remained in first place in the AFC West Division with the tiebreaker advantage on Denver. The Chargers (3-10) need to finish the season with three consecutive victories to match last year’s 6-10 mark.
“Anytime you go from being general manager to special teams coach you can’t have much dignity,” said Burt Grossman, Chargers defensive lineman. “But anytime you block a potential game-winning field goal, you have to feel pretty good about yourself.”
Ortmayer and the Raiders stood to lose moments earlier when it appeared the Chargers had scored a go-ahead touchdown on a 22-yard pass from John Friesz to tight end Derrick Walker. Center Courtney Hall, however, was called for holding.
“From what I recall, he (nose tackle Nolan Harrison) jumped offsides, he ran into me, fell over me and that was it,” Hall said. “I thought they were going to call defensive offsides, we were going to decline it and get a touchdown. That’s the way the ball bounces.”
The holding call pushed the Chargers back to the Raiders’ 32-yard line. After an incomplete pass and a five-yard gain by Rod Bernstine, Carney got the call.
“They came right over me,” said nose tackle Joe Phillips. “They didn’t get any penetration. They just jumped. I was shocked as hell that they blocked it.
“I’m sure in some way Steve (Ortmayer) might feel some vindication, but what does it really matter if it’s Steve Ortmayer’s special teams or Ho Chi Minh’s special teams, that group of guys got it done.”
Raiders defensive end Scott Davis, who blocked a game-tying extra-point attempt by Denver earlier this season, leaped high into the air to spoil the Chargers’ upset bid.
“Our special teams coach told me that it was a low kick,” Carney said. “I thought it was pretty solid when I hit it. My head’s down on the ball, so I didn’t see it.”
The Raiders built a 9-0 halftime lead on the strength of its kicker and John Kidd’s poor punting.
“I talked to (Raiders punter) Jeff Gossett on the way in,” said Kidd, who averaged 30.5 yards on six punts, “and we both said that’s about as ugly as it gets. . . . I just couldn’t get one to go anywhere.”
The Chargers and Raiders were going nowhere in the first half, but the Raiders pounced on a 23-yard punt by Kidd at their 45-yard line and went on to open the game’s scoring on Jaeger’s 37-yard field goal with 3:06 remaining in the first quarter.
They took advantage of Kidd’s 34-yard punt on the following possession and went up 6-0 on Jaeger’s 19-yard boot. Late in the second quarter, following a 21-yard punt by Kidd, the Raiders moved 45 yards in 11 plays to set up a 47-yard attempt for Jaeger.
The Raiders’ mismanagement of the clock, however, resulted in a five-yard delay of game penalty and forced Jaeger to attempt his kick from 53 yards.
No sweat on this chilly night.
Jaeger was good right down the middle for the longest kick in his NFL career, topping a 51-yard effort against Seattle last year.
“It was an ugly win,” said Roger Craig, Raiders running back, “but no one’s gonna remember how ugly it was when the season’s over. They’ll only remember the ‘W.’ ”
The Chargers rolled up five net yards on offense in the first half, including minus-19 net yards passing. Friesz, who was playing on a sore left ankle, was zero for eight in the first half.
“It was a total flop in the first half. The worst half I’ve ever seen by an offense,” Friesz said. “It was everyone’s fault.”
Friesz completed his first pass of the game--a 12-yarder to Ronnie Harmon--with a little more than seven minutes remaining in the third quarter. Once he found the mark, he began to move on the Raiders.
He completed a 31-yard pass to Nate Lewis, who had gotten behind Lionel Washington, to move the ball to the Raiders’ one-yard line, and running back Rod Bernstine took it the rest of the way to make it 9-7 with 5:14 left in the third quarter.
Friesz completed 12 of 19 passes in the second half to rally the Chargers, but he was unable to overcome Hall’s holding penalty. Wide receiver Anthony Miller, who caught one pass for 11 yards last week, was shut out and left the game in the second half with a quadriceps muscle bruise.
The Chargers’ running game was ran into a roadblock and averaged 2.7 yards a carry. Kitrick Taylor, the club’s No. 3 wide receiver, led the team with six catches for 60 yards.
“The defense kept us in the game the entire time,” Friesz said, “but we just couldn’t do anything with it.”
The Chargers’ defense, forced to play without cornerback Gill Byrd (sprained ankle), picked off three Jay Schroeder passes and kept the Raiders out of the end zone.
“They always play us hard,” said Raiders Coach Art Shell. “But somehow we found a way to win.”
The Chargers lost linebacker Junior Seau (pinched nerve), Billy Ray Smith (ankle sprain) and Henry Rolling (ankle sprain) for part of the game, but played stubborn when the Raiders threatened to score.
The Raiders advanced to the Chargers’ one-yard line in the second quarter, but Marcus Allen was stuffed for no gain on second down and thrown back for a yard loss on third down. The Raiders were forced to settle for a field goal.
“I was proud of the way our guys competed because for awhile it looked like we may not have 11 on the field because of injuries,” said Ron Lynn, Chargers defensive coordinator. “But it’s the same the kind of deal: You get close but no cigar. You got to get cigars.”