Defense fuels Raiders late rally, shock Chargers 35-27
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) yells against the Oakland Raiders in the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010. The Raiders won 35-27. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Oakland Raiders safety Tyvon Branch (33) celebrates after scoring on a 64-yard fumble return touchdown with linebacker Kamerion Wimbley (96). (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
San Diego Chargers punter Mike Scifres, right, has his punt blocked by Oakland Raiders tight end Brandon Myers (83) that Raiders' Hiram Eugene, rear, returned for a touchdown in the first quarter. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
San Diego Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd (80) catches a pass in between Oakland Raiders safety Tyvon Branch (33) and cornerback Chris Johnson (37) (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner signals during the first half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
By Darren Feeney / KFMB Intertactive
It's not how you start — it's how you finish. The San Diego Chargers were poor on both ends Sunday.
Rather than extending their streak of 13 consecutive victories over the Oakland Raiders, San Diego continued their streak of starting the season 2-3 for the fourth consecutive season under head coach Norv Turner.
It was Oakland's first win over San Diego since September 2003 — which was the second longest active streak to Buffalo's 14-game losing streak to New England.
After the Chargers allowed the Raiders to score two touchdowns inside the last 3:39, San Diego was driving for the potential go-ahead score trailing 28-27, when a blitzing Michael Huff hit Phillip Rivers just before his arm went forward, knocking the ball loose. Tyvon Branch picked up the ball and raced 64 yards for the score with 58 seconds left, securing the win.
In what is becoming all-too-common on the road, special teams and turnovers once again flawed the Chargers.
It took Oakland less than five minutes to become the 10th team since the merger to block two punts in the same game.
Rock Cartwright got the first against San Diego's Mike Scifres on the opening drive, blocking the punt into the end zone for a safety.
On the Chargers next possession, Brandon Myers laid out to block another punt. Hiram Eugene picked it up for a touchdown just 4:27 into the game.
The Raiders had a 12-0 lead at the end of the first quarter with just one first down.
A few minutes into the second quarter, Rivers already had 192 passing yards, the last 19 on a touchdown pass over the middle to Antonio Gates.
Mike Tolbert then capped off a nine-play drive with a four-yard touchdown run to put the Chargers up 14-12. The two teams traded field goals and leads before halftime as the Chargers headed into the locker room up 17-15.
Rivers and Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd had a field day with the Oakland secondary. Floyd finished with eight catches for 213 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown grab to put the Chargers up 24-15 midway through the third quarter.
Rivers connected on 27-of-42 attempts, for 431 yards and two touchdowns.
In relief of the injured Bruce Gradkowski, Jason Campbell led the Oakland comeback with two long touchdown drives, capped off by a one-yard touchdown pass to Zach Miller and a three-yard rush by Michael Bush.
The Chargers have no one to blame but themselves, with two turnovers inside the red zone in the first quarter. Mike Tolbert fumbled on the goal line and Philip Rivers fumbled on a sack on the Oakland 14-yard line.
Going into Sunday, the Chargers possessed the league's No. 1 offense and No. 2 defense. It takes all three facets to win — including special teams.
The Chargers special teams unit has now surrendered four touchdowns in the three road losses.
San Diego looks to get back to .500 as they play the St. Louis Rams (2-3) next Sunday.