SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 22: Free safety Eric Weddle #32 of the San Diego Chargers intercepts a pass against the Oakland Raiders in the first half at Qualcomm Stadium on December 22, 2013 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
The Chargers remain alive.
Against the rival Oakland Raiders, San Diego won Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium, and now, still remain in playoff contention with help from the Dolphins (who lost to the Bills Sunday) and the Ravens (who lost to the Patriots.)
"It's big," said wide receiver Vincent Brown.
The game could be characterized by sloppy plays and silly mistakes by both teams-- especially in the first half-- but the Chargers were able to come up with several timely plays, including an interception by Eric Weddle and a forced fumble by Seyi Ajirotutu and Darrell Stuckey (with a recovery by Ladarius Green.) Both situations led to points.
"I'm just glad I was able to pull it back in to get the ball back," Weddle said on his interception, which he tipped, bobbled and then sucked to his chest. "We got the momentum back, and that was big. We maintained our composure."
The Chargers turned the ball over three times in the first half, but did enough to come back for the win.
"We started off a little slow and then came in at halftime and were like, 'What do we go to do to get this win?" said running back Ronnie Brown. "It was about settling down and executing."
Added safety Darrell Stuckey: "We came in at halftime and knew it shouldn't have been that close and that we just weren't executing."
San Diego got points on the board first with a 27-yard field goal on their first offensive drive of the game.
A bad snap between center Nick Hardwick and quarterback Philip Rivers led to a fumble at the beginning of the second quarter. The Raiders recovered and capitalized with a touchdown, taking the lead.
A promising drive by the Chargers was killed by an interception at Oakland's 31, but a few plays later, Eric Weddle returned the favor by intercepting Matt McGloin at Oakland's 20. The Chargers took over, and Ryan Mathews got in the end zone with a 7-yard rushing touchdown.
San Diego finished the game with 148 rushing yards, most of them coming in the second half.
"We were able to get some yards, and everyone involved make it easy on us," said running back Danny Woodhead.
Rookie Keenan Allen muffed a punt in the second quarter, which led to an Oakland recovery and a field goal. Going into halftime, the score was tied.
Allen redeemed himself in the third quarter with a touchdown catch, his fifth touchdown in his last seven catches. The Chargers took the lead, 17-10.
"It feels amazing," Allen said. "Knowing we can go in next week with a purpose, with something to play for, feels good."
A 34-yard gain by Mathews on the Chargers next offensive drive put the Chargers in position for a field goal attempt, and kicker Nick Novak was successful with a 48-yard kick.
Chargers special team aces Darrell Stuckey and Seyi Ajirotutu forced a fumble on the next punt and Ladarius Green recovered for San Diego. The Chargers kicked another field goal and went up 23-10 to start the fourth quarter.
"When the guys around me do exactly what they're supposed to, they give me an opportunity to beat my block and make a play," Stuckey said. "Most of the credit goes to the guys around me."
The Raiders were able to put up three more points with a field goal.
The Chargers are still alive, but they need help. Miami and Baltimore both need to lose next week and the Chargers need to beat the Chiefs for a favorable outcome.
"This team just waited too long to put it all together," said linebacker Jarret Johnson. "We blew some games we shouldn't have lost."
Still ... alive is alive.
"I feel like we're just a bunch of warriors," Stuckey said. "We're out here for the fight. We're out here for the game."