By Nate Winkler
Cold Hard Football Facts' AFC West Sheriff
The second game of Week one's Monday Night Football doubleheader featured a division clash as the San Diego Chargers traveled up the Pacific coast to face the Oakland Raiders. Led by five field goals from Nate Keading, the Chargers took the victory 22-14 and have an early leg up in the AFC West.
Here's what we learned:
1. Travis Goethel is the loneliest man in America this morning, but at least he's got an awesome beard.
Goethel, who was already the subject of an article by The Onion, probably wishes he would have gotten into real estate this morning instead of football. The backup long-snapper was forced into action due to injury. He botched two punt snaps and a third one was blocked, leading to three field goals by the Chargers. Shane Lechler, who entered 2012 as the NFL's all time leader in Punt Average (47.3), ended up with a 24.0 yard average on four punt attempts last night.
2. Running the football is just something you do to look cool on the West Coast.
The Raiders and the Chargers combined for just 77 yards rushing on 40 attempts (1.92 YPR). Oakland's Darren McFadden was more of a threat in the passing game with 86 receiving yards on 13 receptions. His longest run of the night was for 11 yards, the wrong way. The only time McFadden had less rushing yards on at least 10 attempts was when he had 10 carries for 14 yards against the Steelers in 2010.
The Chargers leading rusher was WR Eddie Royal, who had two carries for 12 yards.
3. In a complete departure from 2011, both quarterbacks played efficiently.
Oakland's Carson Palmer entered this season with legitimate questions as to his viability in this league and San Diego's Phillip Rivers is coming off the worst season of his career. Both played effectively last night, each throwing for a touchdown and more importantly, zero interceptions.
Palmer finished with 297 yards and a 94.2 Quarterback Rating while Rivers threw for 231 yards and a 101.1 QBR. Just as important, Rivers' Negative Pass Play Percentage of 2.88 leads the NFL after week one. (Palmer 6.12, 9th)
4. Sure things in life: Death, Taxes, Stupid Raiders Penalties.
If you're on the East Coast and didn't stay up until 1:45am to see this game's conclusion, looking at the box score would lead you to believe the new discipline-minded regime in Oakland is off to a good start.
Just six penalties for 35 yards is a vast improvement over any Raiders game since they started being televised. However, two of those penalties were offsides by the defense on 3rd and short while another was for having 12 men on the field. Maybe it's just first-game jitters, or maybe it's just the same old Raiders.
5. The curse of the baseball diamond is real.
Both of Goethel's muffed long snaps came when the ball was placed on the infield dirt. Darren McFadden's -11 yard rush happened when the ball was snapped from the dirt. Antonio Gates suffered a rib injury while making a sweet one-handed grab and being tackled on the infield dirt.
Need more proof? The Raiders and the Miami Dolphins are the only two teams in the NFL that still share a stadium with a professional baseball team. They have combined for one playoff appearance in the last nine seasons.