It’s no secret that the San Diego Chargers were the punch line to everyone’s special teams jokes, and it sure was nice to have them on the receiving end last night. Just a few seasons ago, the Chargers were notorious for their special teams efforts (or lack thereof) as they allowed kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns and several blocked punts.
The Monday Night Football matchup featuring longtime AFC West rivals ended as the Chargers capitalized on the Raiders’ errors. The Raiders downward spiral began as their starting long snapper, Jon Condo, suffered a head injury in the second quarter. Condo’s replacement, Travis Goethel, hadn’t long snapped since his high school days. Two of Goethel’s snaps barely made it to the punter, and one snap was blocked. Needless to say, if you are a Raiders’ fan, this was the point where you immediately stopped all of your trash talking and probably changed the channel.
On the other side of the field, the Chargers were nowhere near perfect, but they had their fair share of reasons to celebrate.
- Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding, one year removed from a torn ACL, kicked five field goals to help lead his team to a victory at the Black Hole.
- Chargers started undrafted rookie Mike Harris at left tackle due to Jared Gaither’s injured back. Harris provided solid pass protection and guarded Philip Rivers’ blind side against a physical Raiders defense.
- First-round pick Melvin Ingram. Ingram showed a great defensive presence on the field as he forced a fumble and constantly put pressure on Carson Palmer throughout the game.
Week 1 in the NFL is officially in the books and as a Chargers’ faithful, I couldn’t be happier. There’s just something so sweet about beating the Raiders, on their field, on national television.