I quote myself as saying (in the previously written article): still mourning the loss of owner Al Davis, not quite ready to take the next step with Carson Palmer under center.
Not only did second-string running back Michael Bush step up and perform in place of the injured Darren McFadden, but Carson Palmer finally broke through with an outstanding performance in his third appearance in an Oakland uniform.
After being semi-retired for a portion of the season, the Raiders acquired the former Pro Bowl signal caller Palmer to fill the void Jason Campbell left after being placed on the injured reserve. Palmer's season-best 299 yards and two touchdown tosses–both to rookie wideout Denarius Moore–helped lead Oakland to a 24-17 victory.
Palmer turned the ball over twice, one interception and one lost fumble, but Bush bailed him out with a season-best 157 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Oakland's defense did its part as well, as former Cleveland Browns linebacker Kamerion Wimbley sacked San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers four times. As a unit, Oakland hit Rivers a total of six times with seven tackles for a loss, 10 put-downs and two turnovers.
Palmer's Raiders struggled on third downs (4/10), but dominated across the board in every other category. A few key mistakes here and there (seven penalties called against them), but Oakland's performance overall was great. Snapping a two-game losing skid, Oakland has evened its division record to 2-2 on the season.
All of a sudden Oakland has sole possession of first place in the AFC West, though it's only by a half game over Kansas City. With match-ups against the likes of Chicago, Green Bay, Detroit and one more showdown with San Diego in Week 17, it appears as though Palmer and the Raiders will have to keep up the pace to make a late playoff push.
Despite the rough play from Philip Rivers, you cannot count out the Chargers. You can't forget that the Chargers usually play its best ball in the final month of the season–December.
The West is far from won. Buckle up, it's about to get wild!
Bush: AP Photo/Gregory Bull