OAKLAND — The Raiders secondary made its presence known early and often Sunday night, providing a big key to Oakland's 27-17 victory.
On the third play from scrimmage, Usama Young produced the Raiders' first interception of the season, and his 25-yard return set up Oakland's first touchdown. In the third quarter, Charles Woodson 25-yard fumble return for a touchdown tied him with Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper for the most defensive touchdowns all-time. It was also the Raiders' first defensive touchdown this season.
And finally in the fourth quarter, DJ Hayden and Woodson grabbed interceptions in San Diego's final two drives to end the Chargers' hopes.
"I just think we've been due," said Woodson about the three interceptions and two turnovers that the Raiders defense caused. "We made the plays when they were there for us to make."
Young set the tone on the Chargers' first possession when he caught a long errant pass from San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers and returned it to the San Diego 44. On the Raiders' first play from scrimmage, quarterback Terrelle Pryor fired a 44-yard touchdown pass to Rod Streater.
"In the secondary, we were kind of antsy. We wanted to get some turnovers, we wanted to get some interceptions," Young said. "I was just playing deep (on the interception). I looked up and I said 'he's not going to throw it.' And he threw it up and I had to get it."
Woodson scooped up a Danny Woodhead fumble and rambled into the end zone with 2:37 remaining to give the Raiders a 20-point advantage at the time.
"It just means that I've been around the game a long time ... I've made a bunch of plays and that I'm one of the greatest ever to play this game," said Woodson about his historic score.
But perhaps the secondary was most clutch in the final two minutes of the game.
Rivers, who finished with 36 completions in 49 attempts for 411 yards and two touchdowns, quickly drove down the field on the Chargers' penultimate possession. In seven plays, San Diego moved from its 20 to the Oakland 4.
But on third-and-goal from the 4, Hayden stepped in front of a Rivers pass in the end zone with 1:48 remaining to end that threat.
"Basically I saw the quarterback scramble the other way and I saw (wide receiver Keenan) Allen kind of do a little dig and I just followed him," Hayden said. "Rivers threw the ball and I broke on it and caught it and got the interception.
"We needed a play in the red zone; we were backed up against the corner."
The Raiders defense didn't allow San Diego back into the red zone. On its final offensive play of the game, Woodson grabbed the Raiders' third interception of the game and returned it 13 yards to the Oakland 29. Pryor knelt twice to run out the clock.
"I think we stayed close to the receivers for the most part during the game and came up with some plays," said Woodson about the secondary.