By Abraham Gutierrez
Prior to the game, Charles Woodson told his teammates that tonight’s home finale was “bigger than me, it’s bigger than you, but it ain’t bigger than us.” Well, it surely took a complete team effort to stop the San Diego Chargers from spoiling the future Hall of Famer’s final game at the Coliseum, as the Raiders fought hard to come away with a 23-20 victory in overtime.READ MORE: UPDATE: Atmospheric River Crashes Onshore; Driving Rains, Gusty Winds, Flash Flood Fears
The win improves Oakland’s record to 7-8 on the season, while San Diego drops to 4-11 as the Raiders swept the season series from their hated rivals for the first time since 2010. When it was all said and done, the man they call “C-Wood” spoke about what it felt like to play not only in the final home game of his stellar career, but potentially in the last game in the East Bay.
“It was a great night, it was a magical night, the team pulled it through and got a huge win for this organization,” Woodson said. “It was awesome. Great to be a part of it.”
Offensively, things got off to a rough start; for the second week in a row, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr opened the game by throwing a pick that later turned into a touchdown. And while Oakland would tie the game at seven apiece in the opening stanza, that rocky start was a sign of things to come.
The Raiders offense would become stagnant in the second and third quarters, as they would only be able to muster a field goal – and a defensive safety – during that span. The Chargers found Oakland’s weak point and they attacked it, unleashing a number of blitz packages that took the home team off its offensive rhythm.
As a team, the Raiders tallied 25 first downs and 286 yards of total offense, out of which, 106 came on the ground and 180 through the air. Penalties also become a huge issue, especially in the fourth quarter and in the overtime session, as they committed 15 penalties for 121 negative yards.
If it weren’t for a valiant defensive effort by the Raiders, Woodson’s farewell game would’ve been a catastrophe. Not only did the Oakland “D” win the game by keeping the Chargers out of the end zone in the OT, but they also scored a safety and evened the turnover battle at one apiece.
In the end, the Chargers were limited to 19 first downs and 343 yards of total offense (72 rushing yards and 271 passing yards). They also did a terrific job on third down, holding the Bolts to 5-for-16 in this always-crucial category.
But in the end, the night belonged to No.24, who after it was over, shared the moment he made the decision that this would be his final season in the National Football League.READ MORE: Stockton Man Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison for Shooting of Drug Dealer
“It was time, for some reason I had this epiphany the morning before the Detroit Lions game. I’m not sure what it was, but something said it was time and I knew it in that instant that it was over,” added Woodson, who finished the game with a pair of tackles. “After that moment hit me, I asked [my kids], I said ‘hey, man, you guys mind if daddy doesn’t play football again next year?’ and they were both like, ‘daddy, that’s fine, don’t play’ and that’s it. That was my confirmation.”
Special Teams: A+
In a game like tonight, special teams make all the difference, and luckily, the Raiders unit was on its game. When the offense hit a wall, punter Marquette King (8 punts, 50.0 average, long of 65 yards, 6 inside the 20-yard line) made sure the Bolts had to work in order to try and get on the board.
Furthermore, when Carr and the Raiders offense couldn’t find the end zone, Mr. Reliable was up to his old tricks, as Sebastian Janikowski was perfect on the evening. Aside from making the game-winner, Seabass tallied seven points on the night, converting on an extra point and a pair of field goals, including a long of 50 yards that tied the NFL’s record for most made kicks over 50-yards long.
In spite of the fact that the Raiders failed to make it to the postseason, two things are very much clear: They have finally found their franchise quarterback in Derek Carr, and Jack Del Rio is here to stay. Not only did he once again do a good job of keeping his players in the fight – even when it seemed dim – but the fact that he tried to punch the game-winner into the end zone by using Charles Woodson on offense was priceless.
“They called my number and give it to San Diego, they had the right defense going,” Woodson explained. “I left the game with negative three yards, that’s all I’m going to think about. And then, Manti Te’o tried me. I didn’t appreciate that. But, you know what, I appreciate the coaching staff for working a play in this week, and actually giving it a shot.”
Next up for the Raiders is a trip to Arrowhead Stadium for a meeting with the hated Kansas City Chiefs. For No. 24, next week’s game will bring to a conclusion a career that’s nothing short of a first-ballot Hall of Fame run.
“It’s been a joy for me to come back and play here for a second time around,” Woodson said as he addressed the fans that gathered at the Coliseum. “You guys welcomed me back with open arms, as if I never left. I just want you to know how much that means to me, means to my family, my two boys, it’s been great. I just want you to know that you guys are under great leadership and that this team is going to get so much better really, really soon.
“Though this is my last game in the Coliseum, just know that I’ll never leave you… go Raiders.”MORE NEWS: Atmospheric River: Defiant Santa Cruz Mountain Residents Say They Will Ride Out The Storm
Abe Gutierrez’s (Twitter: @GutierrezAbe) passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers), CBS-BayArea (Raiders), CBS-NewYork (NY Jets), CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, aExaminer.com and other online publications.