By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, January 1st, 2012 at 5:29 pm in Oakland Raiders.
With some of the fan base chanting “ Denver lost, Denver lost,’’ the Raiders proved defenseless in their bid for an AFC West title, losing 38-26 to the san Diego Chargers at O.co Coliseum
Quarterback Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes, Mike Tolbert had a 1-yard run, Richard Goodman returned a kickoff 105 yards and Nick Novak kicked a 51-yard field goal as San Diego forced their rivals to trudge off the field with the knowledge that a playoff opportunity had slipped away.
The Raiders (8-8) didn’t force San Diego to punt and offensively twice settled for field goals on red zone opportunities.
Sebastian Janikowski connected on field goals of 52, 47, 27 and 32 yards without a miss to go along with touchdown pass by Carson Palmer of 3 yards to Darrius Heyward-Bey and 23 yards to tight end Kevin Boss.
The Broncos, Raiders and Chargers finish 8-8, with Denver winning the division on tiebreaking procedures.
Denver lost 7-3 in Kansas City , creating the opportunity upon which Oakland failed to capitalize.
Oakland was within 31-6 after the Palmer-to-Boss touchdown with 9:37 left, and after a San Diego personal foul, the Raiders kicked off from the 50-yard line and nearly had a game-altering safety.
Janikowski hit pooch kick to Goodman, who first mishandled the ball, then attempted to bring it out of the end zone. He managed to get to the half-yard line.
Rivers then immediately got San Diego out of trouble with a 19-yard pass to Malcom Floyd, Mike Tolbert broke off a 40-yard run, San Diego scored on a 43-yard Rivers to Floyd pass.
The 99-yard drive summed up the season.
The Chargers led 24-13 at halftime as Rivers completed 11 of 17 passes for 171 yards, including the 38-yard touchdown strike to Gates.
Goodman’s 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was the first Oakland allowed in 28 games, dating back to a 102-yard return in Week 3 of last season by LeRod Stephens-Howling of Arizona .
The Raiders mismanaged the clock at the end of the half and failed to get off a 58-yard attempt by Janikowski, with Palmer completing 6-yard pass to Louis Murphy to the 38-yard line with eight seconds left and no timeouts and failing to get the ball spiked before time expired.