The San Diego Chargers 2012 regular season got underway on Monday. The Oakland Raiders played host to the Chargers as the old AFL rivalry was renewed once more. San Diego collected a 22-14 victory on the strength of five field goals by Nate Kaeding, and in so doing San Diego ran their record against the Raiders to 15-3 over the last 18 meetings.
It is fitting that a game which featured seven field goals would be so greatly affected by a long snapper. Raiders LS Jon Condo went down in the first half and his injury completely changed the game. Condo was replaced by 3rd year man Travis Goethel.
Goethel struggled to say the least, snapping two groundballs and having a punt blocked in his four opportunities. The snapping struggles rendered Oakland’s All-Pro Punter Shane Lechler, powerless to provide the field position depended upon by the Raiders defense.
San Diego’s defense played exceptionally well, holding RB Darren McFadden to just 32 yards on 15 carries. Though the 5th year back out of Arkansas did haul in 13 passes for 86 yards and was the primary target of Carson Palmer‘s passing attack. Donald Butler led the way for the Chargers defensively with 7 tackles and a Sack to his credit, while LB Shawn Phillips tallied two sacks to start off his 2012 campaign.
The Chargers offense was expectedly anemic and only managed one rushing first down, while finishing with 32 yards on 20 carries. San Diego as a whole is counting down the minutes until RB Ryan Matthews’ return.
San Diego’s passing game saw flashes of something special. Quality efforts were turned in by WR Eddie Royal and WR Robert Meachem, however it was the acrobatic footwork and eventual touchdown by WR Malcolm Floyd which provided the greatest reason for optimism. His ability to stay healthy this year will be significant for the Chargers offense.
Though bailed out by the reliable leg of the most accurate kicker in NFL history, the Chargers ineffectiveness in the Red Zone will be a major focal point going towards next Sunday’s home opener against the (0-1) Tennessee Titans. Oakland Travels to Miami to take on The Dolphins (0-1)
There is hope in Charger Land – Beating the Raiders to start the season has to be a good omen.
Todd Coshow is a Chargers Columnist for rantsports.com. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow Todd on twitter @TC_Coshow