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What we learned: Raiders rally to defeat Chargers in OT

The Raiders (7-8) came from behind to emerge with a 23-20 overtime victory versus the San Diego Chargers (4-11) in a Christmas Eve game that could be the last ever played in Oakland's Coliseum. Here's what you need to know:

  1. Raiders linebacker Malcolm Smith forced a David Johnson fumble that Benson Mayowa returned to the doorstep of the end zone, leading directly to Michael Crabtree's go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter. It was the play of the game, occurring one series after the craziest sequence of the night. A fourth-and-25 Khalil Mack defensive holding penalty wiped Josh Lambo's 53-yard field-goal off the scoreboard. Given a free first down, Philip Rivers found Ladarius Green for a 30-yard touchdown on the next play. The NFL's absurd catch rule proceeded to rear its ugly head when the replay review official over-scrutinized the play and ruled it incomplete. A few plays later, Lambo missed a field-goal attempt from five yards closer than the original kick. Green's overturned touchdown would have given the Chargers a 24-12 lead. Instead, they led by just five at the time of Johnson's fumble.

Philip Rivers answered Crabtree's score with a game-tying field-goal drive, sending the bout into overtime. Rivers had no answer for Sebastian Janikowski's 31-yard field goal, though, failing to convert a fourth down on the Chargers' first series of the extra frame.

  1. This was widely billed as the relocation bowl, with the two owners attempting to move their teams out of San Diego and Oakland. Nothing is official yet, but the Raiders, Chargers and Rams are all expected to apply next month for the right to relocate to the Los Angeles area. If this ends up as the last game in Oakland, it will mark the end of an era. The Coliseum is the last of the multi-purpose stadiums that dotted the NFL landscape in the decades leading up to the turn of the century. NFL players can't wait to say goodbye to the dirt infield forever.
  1. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave hinted earlier this week that retiring safety Charles Woodson might get a chance to play wide receiver in the future Hall of Famer's "Black Hole" sendoff. The perfect opportunity never came about, likely because the Raiders were playing from behind for 55 minutes. Woodson did get one shot to play the hero, however, entering the game for a red-zone gadget play on the first drive of overtime. He was ultimately tackled for an anti-climatic 3-yard loss on a reverse designed for him to throw the winning touchdown.

Woodson addressed the crowd after the game, telling Raider Nation: "You welcomed me back with open arms as if I never left. I just want to let you know how much that means to me and my family. It's been a joy for me to come back here and play for a second time around."

In related news, owner Mark Davis has told Woodson that he can come back and work for the Raiders organization at any time in any capacity he wants, NFL Media's Steve Wyche reported before the game.

  1. Derek Carr has reverted to rookie-season form over the past three weeks. The wide receiver trio of Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Seth Roberts combined for a grand total of negative 10 yards at halftime. The Raiders' lone first down of the second half was Crabtree's 3-yard touchdown. Beyond the lack of production, Carr took a bad sack that sabotaged the drive entering halftime and committed intentional grounding to thwart the Raiders' chances of a successful one-minute drill to end the game in regulation.
  1. The Chargers certainly haven't quit on coach Mike McCoy. In fact, the defense has quietly played its best ball of the season over the past month, with rookie inside linebacker Denzel Perryman emerging as a nucleus player. Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attaochu have finally realized their potential as San Diego's most effective edge rushing tandem since Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips nearly a decade ago.

The injury-ravaged defense deserved a better fate Thursday night. The best two players in the secondary, safety Eric Weddle (groin) and cornerback Jason Verrett (hamstring), left the game with injuries early in the third quarter, soon to be joined on the sideline by safety Darrell Stuckey (knee) and No. 2 cornerback Patrick Robinson. The Bolts were in such dire straits that wide receiver Dontrelle Inman was forced to play cornerback with the game on the line in overtime.

  1. Janikowski not only converted the winning field goal, but also tied former Lions kicker Jason Hanson's record for most field goals over 50 yards (52). He wasn't alone on special teams. Marquette King dropped six punts inside the 20-yard line, the most by any Raiders punter since at least 1976.
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