Chargers rally to spoil Sparano's debut as Raiders' interim coach

Ben Margot/APChargers cornerback Jason Verrett

OAKLAND — The stage was set for Raiders rookie Derek Carr to put a perfect capper on a breakthrough performance.

He launched a pass that he hoped would go for his fifth touchdown, only to watch Jason Verrett steal it away for an acrobatic, game-sealing interception.

Verrett's deft move came after Branden Oliver gave San Diego the lead with a 1-yard touchdown run with 1:56 left, and the Chargers spoiled interim coach Tony Sparano's debut with Oakland with a 31-28 win Sunday.

“The guy made a great play,” Carr said. “Those things are going to happen. Yeah, it hurts. It hurts because that's the way it ended.”

The interception was a bad ending to an otherwise strong day for Carr. His 282 yards passing and four touchdown passes were not enough to prevent Oakland's 11th straight loss and first after the firing of Dennis Allen.

Carr took a deep shot for Brice Butler with the Raiders (0-5) facing second-and-1 from the San Diego 45, needing just a few more yards to get into range for a potential tying field goal.

“It was a scenario where the coverage dictated where the ball was going to go and we took the shot,” Sparano said. “The kid made a heck of a play as you can see. We're talking about an inch one way or an inch the other way and that's the nature of our game. You lose one-score games and those are the ones that hurt.”

Philip Rivers had three touchdown passes and engineered the winning drive to give San Diego (5-1) its fifth straight win. Oakland matched the team's longest losing streak since 1962.

Oliver, an undrafted rookie out of Buffalo, ran for 101 yards to complement another strong performance by Rivers, who threw for 313 yards and posted a 120 passer rating for a record fifth straight game.

Carr's best throw might have been his last TD, when he rolled to his right and patiently waited for Andre Holmes to break open in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard score that put Oakland up 28-21.

But it wasn't enough to give the Raiders the win.

“We have to be in these kinds of football games,” Sparano said. “We have to win one of these types of football games and that's how you get this thing turned around.”

Rivers took over after that, leading San Diego on a pair of scoring drives starting with a 30-yard field goal by Nick Novak.

After the Raiders went three-and-out for the second time all game, Rivers got the ball at the Oakland 39 with 4:43 to play and calmly led the Chargers downfield to set up Oliver's winning run.

“I'm the type of guy that, if you keep giving me the ball, I feel like I get stronger as the game goes,” Oliver said.

Sparano talked this week about ending a pattern of “Oakland beating Oakland,” and the Raiders used San Diego's mistakes to take the lead in the third quarter.

The Chargers committed three penalties on one drive, including a hold on Ladarius Green that negated Novak's 54-yard field goal.

Instead of punting on fourth-and-35, up back Eric Weddle decided to try a fake but threw an incompletion intended for Seyi Ajirotutu.

Oakland took advantage of the good field position to take the lead on Carr's 47-yard TD pass to Butler that put the Raiders up 21-14 for their first second-half lead since last Thanksgiving in Dallas.

Rivers answered with a 1-yarder to Antonio Gates for his third TD pass late in the third.

Carr threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Holmes in the opening minute and he and Rivers each had two scoring throws to send the game to halftime tied at 14.

Oakland missed a chance for a halftime lead when Sebastian Janikowski was wide left on a 53-yard field goal try on the final play.

NOTES: Carr's first TD pass to Holmes was the longest scoring throw for the Raiders since JaMarcus Russell and Zach Miller connected on an 86-yarder on Oct. 10, 2009. … Rivers became the fifth QB to throw for 4,000 yards in his career against the Raiders, joining John Elway, Dan Fouts, John Hadl and Dave Kreig.

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