As the research analyst for NFL Network's NFL RedZone, Elliot Harrison watched all 267 games in the 2010 season. We asked him to rank the 20 most memorable.
To understand the quality of the Week 5 battle between the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, one has to go back 56 weeks to the Monday Night Football opener in 2009. The Raiders carried a two-score lead on the Chargers that night, only to have Philip Rivers lead his team on two long drives to win the game. That wasn't the team on the East Bay's only bad memory, either.
Coming into our 20th best game of the 2010 season, the Chargers had beaten the division-rival Raiders 13 straight times. Only the Patriots' streak over the Bills (14 in a row) trumped Norv Turner and company's dominance over the Silver and Black.
That all changed when San Diego punter Mike Scifres couldn't get a punt off.
On San Diego's second possession, Scifres would get whacked again, this time by Brandon Myers. Hiram Eugene picked it up easily and it was 12-0, Oakland.
"We had a problem on the right side and we thought we addressed it after the first one, but we didn't get it handled," Turner said after the game.
What the Chargers have always handled is making late-season -- and late-game -- rallies. Despite fumbling deep in Oakland territory on their next two possessions, San Diego would display its resilience again, racking up more than 500 yards of offense and eventually building a 28-22 lead. Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell showed some resilience of his own, filling in for the injured Bruce Gradkowski and driving the offense down the field to make it 29-28.
With one last chance to steal a win, Rivers had his guys at the Oakland 33. But a well-timed blitz by Michael Huff caused the franchise quarterback to cough up the ball. Fellow safety Tyvon Branch took it to the house, and the Chargers' 13-game win streak over the Raiders went the way of the dodo bird.
Play of the game
San Diego's offense had done everything it could to get back into the game, mounting five scoring drives. It looked like they would make it a sixth until Huff and Branch iced it.
How the Chargers screwed up their special teams blocking on two punts in a row is enough to merit head-scratching consideration. But really, it was a problem all season, as Scifres would be blocked five times and have another deflected.
What's the cardinal sin for a running back? Fumbling inside the 5-yard line, especially if your job is to get the tough yards like the Chargers' Mike Tolbert, who cost his team a touchdown in a tight game.
Why is this game No. 20 of 2010?
We all get surprised on NFL RedZone when there's a blocked punt. It's one play in football that truly has its own sound ... the dreaded "double thud!" But when it happens on back-to-back punts? Incredible. The Raiders jumped out to a 12-0 lead on the strength of their special teams, and then won on a fumble return. The uniqueness of this game, along with the Chargers' furious offensive display, helped push this game over the hump.
Why not higher?
As fun as this AFC West battle was, the same miscues that made it entertaining keep it from being in the top 10. Early season tilts don't normally have as much juice as those with playoff implications.