ALAMEDA (AP) — Instead of getting to enjoy their bye week with a rare Sunday off during the season, the Oakland Raiders got to watch a horror show.
Right there on their television sets was Philip Rivers tuning up for his showdown with the Raiders by throwing for 503 yards against Green Bay.
Now it’s up to an Oakland defense that has struggled so far against the pass to slow down Rivers and the Chargers when the teams meet in San Diego on Sunday.
“It was pretty intense,” cornerback David Amerson said. “It will be a big challenge for us to really establish ourselves.”
The Raiders have struggled to do that so far this season as the 31st-ranked pass defense. Oakland is allowing a franchise-worst 299.2 yards passing per game and has been picked apart so far by Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, Josh McCown and Jay Cutler.
The Raiders’ best performance came in their last game when they kept Peyton Manning and Denver’s offense out of the end zone all day and intercepted two passes in a 16-10 loss.
But stopping Rivers won’t be as easy. Rivers has won six of his past seven meetings against Oakland and his 14 overall wins are the most any starting quarterback has ever had against the Raiders.
Rivers threw for 313 yards and led a late game-winning drive in Oakland last year and has thrown for more yards against the Raiders than any other quarterback since the team moved back to Oakland in 1995.
“He’s a great quarterback,” cornerback DJ Hayden said. “He’s been in the league a long time. He’s a good veteran. He’s not scared to throw it and sneak it into windows and give his receivers the opportunity to make plays on the ball.”
Rivers’ supreme confidence in his arm and his receivers does give defensive backs the opportunities to make plays on the ball.
That has allowed him to throw for a league-high 2,116 yards on 177 completions and has him on pace to set NFL records in both categories.
“You want to be in positon to make plays,” Amerson said. “He throws the ball so much that it will give more opportunities to us. We just have to take advantage of it.”
Making Rivers more dangerous is the talent he has around him. Receiver Keenan Allen leads the NFL with 53 catches, Danny Woodhead is a big threat out of the backfield with 26 catches and San Diego has two talented tight ends in Ladarius Green and Antonio Gates.
Green has 22 catches for 259 yards and three scores and was a big threat in the middle of the field during Gates’ season-opening four-game suspension.
Gates has 18 catches for 187 yards and two scores in his two games back.
The Raiders have struggled against tight ends, allowing 32 catches and six TDs in four games before shutting out Owen Daniels and the Broncos two weeks ago.
Doing the same to Gates will be more difficult.
“We have to monitor him,” safety TJ Carrie said. “Whatever package we put in will be to discourage throws to him because he’s a very excellent tight end and he can do a lot on the edges as well.”
NOTES: S Charles Woodson took his usual Wednesday off as he nurses an injured shoulder. ... DT Justin Ellis (ankle) missed practice. ... RB Latavius Murray (shoulder), RB Taiwan Jones (foot) and defensive lineman Denico Autry (concussion) were full participants in practice.