Chargers ready for one final scene in Oakland against Raiders before they move
The Chargers can recall being showered by debris, doused with beer and enveloped by the wafting smell of weed.
Now, they have the opportunity to play one final time in the home of the Oakland Raiders, in a game both teams desperately need — a game matching longtime AFC West rivals.
It’s also a game played at night, giving the fans ample time to elevate their levels of both excitement and blood-alcohol.
“It’ll be awesome,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. “The aura of what that place has meant over the years will be alive, for sure.”
The Raiders (4-4) will be moving to Las Vegas after the season, meaning the game Thursday night will be Rivers’ farewell to this place, unless the teams should meet in the playoffs.
It will serve as a fitting bookend for him, his first career start coming here on Sept. 11, 2006.
The Chargers (4-5) won that Monday night 27-0, with Rivers completing eight of 11 pass attempts for 108 yards and a touchdown — one of his least productive outings.
“Only threw it 11 times,” Rivers recalled this week. “I think I can talk [interim offensive coordinator] Shane [Steichen] into more than 11 attempts on Thursday.”
This will be Rivers’ 14th career start in a facility that — during his time in the NFL — has gone from being called McAfee Coliseum to Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum to Overstock.com Coliseum to O.co Coliseum to Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum again to, reportedly, RingCentral Coliseum.
Although many media outlets are calling the stadium RingCentral, official communications from the Raiders continue to use the Oakland-Alameda County name when referring to their home.
Despite the signage out front changing over the years, the atmosphere inside has remained consistent. And comical. And, perhaps in some cases, criminal.
“Every game’s like Halloween,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “A lot of energy. A lot of excitement. A good place to go play. I’m going to miss it, no doubt.”
As a player, Lynn said he remembers being hit by a battery thrown from the stands. Before confirming that he was, in fact, wearing his helmet at the time, Lynn was asked what type of battery.
“Double-A,” he answered. “It was not a car battery.”
Chargers defensive lineman Damion Square said he also was pelted by a battery at the Coliseum, on another Thursday night in 2015. It apparently didn’t matter to the person firing the object that it was Christmas Eve.
Or maybe it did. Square said his battery was a smaller triple-A type. It deflected off his helmet.
“The noise made my ears ring for two series,” he said. “It truly sounded like someone hit my helmet with a bell. The noise was just crazy. I don’t think I was singled out, but it did feel like it came from about 50 yards away.”
Veteran left tackle Russell Okung was more fortunate than Lynn and Square. The egg that someone whipped in his direction outside the Coliseum missed. The incident came during Okung’s rookie season, when he was playing with Seattle. It was Halloween night 2010.
“One, how did you get the egg?” Okung remembered thinking at the time. “And you really held it that long to be able to throw it at me? It was insane. It was definitely a testament to who they are as a fan base. They’re rabid. They’re crazy and they love their team.”
The fans promise to be boisterous and unforgiving Thursday, which will be nothing new to a Chargers team that, at times over the past three seasons, has had to resort to using a silent count at home.
Click Here: Rugby league Jerseys
On Sunday, Dignity Health Sports Park was bustling with Green Bay rooters, every one of them quieted when the Chargers took the opening kickoff and assembled a 15-play, 84-yard drive that ate up more than eight minutes.
The possession netted only three points, but the mood it established was worth much more as the Chargers went on to beat the favored Packers handily, 26-11.
“It will be a crazy atmosphere for them,” running back Melvin Gordon said of the fans in Oakland. “We gotta go in there and silence some noise.”
The winner will sit second to Kansas City in the division and remain undeniably in wild-card contention in an AFC that has been accommodating to playoff-hopeful teams that have struggled.
The Chargers lost five of six games during one stretch but now have back-to-back victories that have basically salvaged their season — at least for another week.
They are coming off their most complete performance in months, a triumph featuring a dominant defense and an offense that rediscovered its run-pass balance.
“I don’t think it’s something like, ‘Oh, we figured it out. So we’re going to look like that for the rest of the year,’ ” Rivers said. “It’s not that easy.
“It’s tough to be consistent in this league. The teams that are, end up … we know where they end up late in December and January. We’re striving to get there.”
The Chargers’ pursuit continues Thursday, with a November night in a painted-up and angry Black Hole looking to consume them.