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SAN DIEGO 24, OAKLAND 20

Chargers rally in last minute for win over Raiders

Darren Sproles scores on a five-yard run with 18 seconds left.

September 15, 2009|Associated Press

OAKLAND — Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers opened the season doing what they do best: beating the Oakland Raiders.

Rivers answered a pair of go-ahead scored by Oakland by leading two touchdown drives, capped by Darren Sproles' five-yard run with 18 seconds left that gave the Chargers their 12th straight victory in this one-sided rivalry, 24-20 Monday night.

This might have been the toughest one of the bunch. JaMarcus Russell had given Oakland a 20-17 lead with a 57-yard touchdown pass to rookie Louis Murphy with 2:34 left. But despite having two backup linemen in the game, Rivers calmly led the Chargers down the field for the winning score.

Rivers was six for seven for 79 yards on the winning drive before Sproles silenced the crowd with his run up the middle. This marked the Raiders' 11th straight loss in prime time and perhaps the most painful, considering how close they came.

They took a 13-10 lead early in the fourth quarter on a 35-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski before Rivers drove the Chargers down and gave them the lead with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson. Then Russell's fourth-down pass to Murphy looked as if it would provide an emphatic end to a pair of losing streaks. Instead, it was just a footnote to Oakland's league-worst 73rd loss since the start of the 2003 season.

The Chargers' offense looked overmatched for much of the night against newly acquired Richard Seymour and the Raiders' defense. Injuries to center Nick Hardwick and guard Louis Vasquez in the third quarter made moving the ball even tougher for San Diego and the frustration led Rivers to commit a personal foul that thwarted one drive.

But the two last drives were the reason why the Chargers gave Rivers a six-year contract extension worth $93 millionlast month. He finished 24 for 36 for 252 yards.

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