Daylight Savings Time has come. The sun is setting around 6:00 p.m., but on Thursday it will set around 4:30 p.m. in Oakland. The Bolts expect that there will be a blackout in stands, in their final visit to the Oakland Coliseum before the Raiders move to Las Vegas next season.
“I have a lot of memories of the ‘black hole,’ explained head coach Anthony Lynn. “That’s a fun place to play football. Every game is like Halloween. There’s a lot of energy and a lot of excitement. It’s a good place to go play.”
The Chargers are coming off an impressive 26-11 victory over the Green Bay Packers. They have a short week and will face a Raiders team who is looking to break their four-game losing streak against Los Angeles. The Raiders players feed off the fans’ energy.
“Shoot, it’s an in-state rival,” explained quarterback Philip Rivers. “The best way I can describe it is think about the team you played in high school, that was kind of that cross-town team that you always looked forward to. I mean, it’s that kind of old-school rivalry. It’ll be awesome. The fact that it’s a night game, too. It’ll be cranked up pretty good.”
The Oakland Coliseum has history with Rivers because he debuted on Monday Night Football in 2006 against the Raiders, a game his team won 27-0. He has been very successful in Oakland since then with a 9-4 all-time record at the Coliseum.
The Raiders fans have a history of being very spirited. Dressing up as Darth Vader, pirates, or just about anything, and bringing the noise. Players past and present have unique stories about going into the “black hole”.
“I actually have an Instagram post about my favorite memory,” explained running back Austin Ekeler. “It was a touchdown that got called back. I was turning back looking at the field and there is someone flipping me off in the background. There is also a beer getting poured on me. It was amazing. I want to get it framed.”
The cheerfulness with which Ekeler explained his memory is the same way other Chargers players describe it. Lynn said on Monday that he got hit by a battery when he played for the Denver Broncos.
Defensive tackle Damion Square recalled a Thursday Night Football game in 2015 in which former teammate Kendall Reyes intercepted Derek Carr and got hit in the head with a AAA battery during the celebration.
Where else would players make these memories than in Oakland?
“Everyone was telling me about the Raiders experience,” explained left tackle Russell Okung. “I was getting off the bus and a fan threw an egg at me. One - how did you get the egg? Two - you really held it that long to be able to throw it at me? It’s insane. It was a testament to who they are as a fan base. They are rabid, crazy and they love their team.”
Beyond the atmosphere and nostalgia, Chargers coaches and players know that this game is crucial. They are on a two-game win streak and the offense looked revitalized after offensive coordinator Shane Steichen replaced Ken Whisenhunt. Joey Bosa, who has 5.5 sacks in the last three games, leads a defense that will look too rattle Carr and stop rookie running back Josh Jacobs - something no other team has seemed to do.
While it may be the final game in the Coliseum for the Bolts it could be the beginning of the late-season push the team often seems to need in order to sneak into the playoffs.
- OUT: DT Cortez Broughton (mono), DT Justin Jones (shoulder). Doubtful: WR Geremy Davis (hamstring), RB Justin Jackson (calf), S Roderic Teamer (groin). Questionable: LB Denzel Perryman (knee), RT Sam Tevi (knee), NT Brandon Mebane (knee).