OAKLAND, California — What looked like a mismatch coming into the game with first-place San Diego taking on winless Oakland came down to the final minutes.
Predictably, it was the Chargers who delivered the winning plays late to remain atop the AFC standings.
Branden Oliver scored on a 1-yard run with 1:56 to play and Jason Verrett sealed San Diego's 31-28 win Sunday with an acrobatic interception that spoiled interim coach Tony Sparano's debut with Oakland.
"It was big for us to win like this," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We knew that we would get their best. I know on the outside, looking at an 0-4 team against a 4-1 team and you think, 'Oh, this is going to be Chargers all the way.' We knew better. There's a lot of good players over there. They played really well today. In the division, there's nothing easy."
Rivers threw three touchdown passes and engineered the winning drive to give San Diego (5-1) its fifth straight win and send Oakland (0-5) to its 11th straight loss, matching the team's longest losing streak since 1962.
But Rivers answered with a pair of scoring drives and Carr was intercepted by Verrett with 1:13 to play.
"It's a surreal moment, man," said Verrett, who grew up cheering for the Raiders in the Bay Area and has a brother who works for the team. "That's all I can say. I'm blessed. Just thankful I could make the play."
Here are some other takeaways from the game:
CARR'S CALL: Carr took a deep shot for Brice Butler with the Raiders 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. Carr said he didn't regret the decision to take a deep shot.
"He made a great play," Carr said. "Brice went up, he had it and the guy made a great play. Those things are going to happen. Yeah, it hurts. It hurts because that's the way it ended."
RIVERS ROLLING: Rivers went 22 for 34 for 313 yards and the three scores for a 123.8 passer rating. That gave him five straight games with a rating of at least 120, breaking a tie with Kurt Warner and Johnny Unitas for the longest streak ever.
"Knowing that you were tied with, I guess, Unitas and Warner until today ... what it says is that we've had a great five-game stretch," Rivers said. "Doesn't speak to much more than that."
BUFFALO BUDDIES: Oliver outplayed his old college roommate at Buffalo, Khalil Mack, the fifth overall pick in this year's draft by Oakland. Mack had just two tackles, while the undrafted Oliver had his second straight 100-yard game, rushing for 101 yards and getting the game-winning score.
"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.
FOOLISH FAKE: With the Chargers facing fourth-and-35 from the Oakland 46 in the third quarter, up back Eric Weddle somehow decided to try a fake. He took the snap and launched a deep ball down the sideline intended for Seyi Ajirotutu. The pass fell incomplete and Oakland capitalized on the prime field position to take the lead three plays later on a 47-yard pass to Brice Butler.
"What a call, huh?" Weddle said. "I could say that was probably not the smartest decision I've made in eight years."
SPARANO'S IMPACT: The Raiders looked much improved in their first game under Sparano than they did the first four weeks under Dennis Allen. Darren McFadden had his biggest day running of the season with 80 yards on 14 carries and Carr was able to stretch the field with his big arm, throwing a 77-yard TD pass to Andre Holmes on the third play of the game and the long TD to Butler. But it still added up to another loss.
"We didn't walk into this place here today in front of our fans here to play a good game, play a competitive game, do any of those things," Sparano said. "We came here to win a football game today. In our league, there's none of those type of things. There are no moral victories."
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