Closing out a tight game gave the San Diego Chargers the feeling they missed when losing the first two contests of the season in the final seconds.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Closing out a tight game gave the San Diego Chargers the feeling they missed when losing the first two contests of the season in the final seconds.
Blowing another fourth-quarter lead left the Oakland Raiders feeling sick once again.
Darren Sproles' long kickoff return set up Nate Kaeding's go-ahead 47-yard field goal with 1:51 to play and LaDainian Tomlinson sealed the Chargers 10th straight win over their AFC West rivals with his second fourth quarter touchdown in a 28-18 victory Sunday.
"We pride ourselves on now matter how we start, finishing the game strong," said Tomlinson, who had 75 of his 106 yards in the fourth quarter. "It didn't matter that it was against the Raiders."
It just made it easier. The Chargers (2-2) have dominated this series of late and have the longest winning streak ever against Al Davis' once-proud franchise. It was a nice turnaround from the first two weeks when San Diego lost to Carolina on the final play and to Denver in the final minute on a blown call by referee Ed Hochuli.
For the Raiders (1-3), the loss was disturbingly similar to last week's in Buffalo when they were unable to hold onto a nine-point fourth quarter lead. This week, they led 15-0 at halftime and by 12 points heading into the fourth quarter only to lose again and raise more questions about coach Lane Kiffin's job security.
"That's not my call," Kiffin said. "I don't know what I expect. I'm not going to do anything different than I've been doing, keeping this team together the best I can."
The Raiders once again wilted as the game progressed, struggling to stop San Diego's high-powered offense and generating only one first down in the first 22 minutes of the half.
A pair of turnovers by quarterback JaMarcus Russell led to two touchdowns in the fourth quarter that gave San Diego its first lead on a 13-yard run by Tomlinson and a 2-point conversion.
"Obviously when you've won that many in a row, you've got a grasp on how to beat them," said quarterback Philip Rivers, who went 14-for-25 for 180 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
"We just kept fighting. It wasn't our prettiest win, but our defense gave us a chance. There was no panic."
After Kaeding missed his second field goal for the Chargers, Russell finally got the Raiders offense moving with help from a pair of penalties by defensive back Antonio Cromartie. That set up Sebastian Janikowski's 32-yard field goal that tied the game at 18 with 2:47 to go.
But before the Raiders could even finish celebrating, Sproles returned the ensuing kickoff to the 35. The Chargers were unable to get a first down, but Kaeding didn't miss this kick, giving San Diego the lead.
The Raiders' final comeback attempt was thwarted when Luis Castillo pressured Russell into an incompletion on fourth-and-5 from the Oakland 44 with 1:14 to go. Tomlinson finished it off from there with a 41-yard run.
His 1,815 yards rushing and 21 total touchdowns are the most any player has had in his first 15 games against a team.
"We never said we would be playing our best football in September," Castillo said. "But the goal is to be playing our best football in December. Games like this, they add to the fire."
The Raiders could have had an even bigger halftime lead. But they settled for a field goal on the opening drive after moving the ball inside the 5 and had another touchdown called back on a holding penalty against Cornell Green. They settled for a field goal on that drive as well.
Oakland missed a chance for a touchdown again in the fourth quarter when Zach Miller slipped in the end zone on third down, leading to Janikowski's game-tying field goal. Because of those lost points, the Raiders head into the bye week with questions instead of confidence.
"Beating this team going into a bye week, we felt like we were going to steamroll have a lot of momentum for the rest of the season, that we were going to play good football and set it up for the end of the season," linebacker Kirk Morrison said.
Russell finished 22-for-37 for 277 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown pass to Miller in the second quarter.
Tomlinson's 1,815 yards rushing and 21 total touchdowns against Oakland are the most any player has had in his first 15 games against a team. ... Janikowski attempted a 76-yard field goal at the end of the first half but was unable to reach the goal line with his kick. The NFL record for longest field goal is 63 yards.