OAKLAND (AP) — Another close loss, a string of injuries that forced a wide receiver to play safety in overtime.
The latest defeat by the San Diego Chargers was a microcosm of their down season.
Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 31-yard field goal in overtime and the Raiders got a defensive stop to seal a 23-20 victory over the Chargers on Thursday night in what could be the final game ever in Oakland.
Philip Rivers threw for 277 yards and a touchdown but couldn’t lead a scoring drive in overtime as the Chargers (4-11) lost their eighth game by eight points or less
“It’s been the story of the year, just losing close games,” Rivers said. “Doesn’t make it any easier losing another one like that.”
The injury-riddled Chargers lost several more players to injuries, including cornerback Jason Verrett (hamstring), safety Eric Weddle (groin) and offensive linemen Orlando Franklin (concussion) and Trevor Robinson (concussion).
That forced receiver Dontrelle Inman to play safety in overtime for his first defensive snaps since high school.
“This was just one where we were going on the fly,” he said. “When guys go down, someone’s got to step up. We’ve got to use everyone we’ve got. We never practiced that, though, in terms of who was going to be out there. They just said, ‘We need somebody.’ So I said, ‘If you need me, I’m ready to go. Just let me know what you need me to do.'”
Derek Carr threw a touchdown pass and led the winning overtime drive for the Raiders (7-8), who could be moving to the Los Angeles area after the season. It also made safety Charles Woodson a winner in his final home game with the Raiders before retiring after his 18th NFL season.
The Raiders won despite 15 penalties, including five on their overtime drive, and being held to one first down of the second half on a 3-yard touchdown drive.
“I guess it had to end like that,” Woodson said. “It was a little much for me. I would have rather it had been a lopsided victory and we blew them out. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
But Oakland did move the ball in overtime after winning the toss. Three straight penalties left the Raiders with a second-and-29 but San Diego’s Denzel Perryman bailed them out when he was called for a personal foul for hitting a defenseless Michael Crabtree in the head.
Seth Roberts then made a juggling 33-yard catch and run to put the Raiders on the 10. After Woodson lost 3 yards on a reverse when San Diego covered a possible pass to Carr in the end zone, Janikowski hit the go-ahead field goal.
“Charles is one of the greatest players to ever put on a uniform,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “He’s a great Raider. To be able to send him out the right way, to be able to cap off a special evening like this, our last home game of the year … I’m just really proud of the effort.”
The Chargers were unable to muster a first down and lost the game.
“We had an opportunity to win it, just didn’t finish it,” coach Mike McCoy said.
The Raiders had done nothing offensively for most of the night when the defense gave them a needed spark. Malcolm Smith forced a fumble on a catch by David Johnson, and Benson Mayowa returned it 41 yards to the 3.
Carr hit Crabtree on the next play for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:42 to go. Carr added a 2-point conversion to Roberts to make it 20-17.
The Chargers tied it on Josh Lambo’s 47-yard field goal with 55 seconds to play.
It was a night of goodbyes as Woodson played his final home game with the Raiders after announcing his retirement earlier in the week. Woodson got a loud ovation as he was introduced last with the defensive starters and was the only Oakland captain for the pregame coin toss.
While Woodson’s future is determined, the team’s remains in flux. Raiders owner Mark Davis and Chargers owner Dean Spanos are seeking to partner on building a stadium in Carson. The Rams are looking to build their own stadium in Inglewood as well and the league will likely decide in January which teams — if any — will be allowed to move.
Some fans came with “Stay in Oakland” signs in hopes that the team does not leave the Bay Area for the second time. The Raiders moved from Oakland to Los Angeles following the 1981 season and then returned in 1995.
NOTES: The Chargers have lost seven straight division games. … Raiders WR Amari Cooper was limited by a sore foot on the short week.