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Chargers alive in playoff race with win over Raiders

  • By Mike Coppinger NFL.com
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Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 26-13 victory over the rival Oakland Raiders. The win coupled with losses by the Dolphins and Ravens on Sunday resulted in the Chargers having a chance at postseason play heading into the final weekend of the regular season.

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Here's what else we learned Sunday:

1. The Chargers must win next weekend and get losses from the Dolphins and Ravens to earn the sixth and final AFC playoff spot. The Bolts host the Chiefs, whom they topped in a 41-38 shootout in Week 12. The Ravens visit the Bengals and the reeling 'Fins host the Jets. The Chargers have a good shot at playing in January.

2. Special teams played a pivotal role for the Chargers. The good: Novak's 48-yard field goal in the waning moments of the third quarter and the forced fumble on the ensuing kickoff. The bad: Keenan Allen's muffed punt that led to a Raiders TD.

3. Darren McFadden played for the first time since Week 13 and scored his first touchdown since Week 8. But he rushed just four times for eight yards, while Rashad Jennings nabbed 10 carries. The workload is likely a harbinger of things to come with McFadden in a contract year. He's missed six games this year with an assortment of injuries.

4. Ryan Mathews topped his career-high single-season mark of 1,091 rushing yards after picking up 99 yards on 25 carries. He now has 1,111 yards in 2013. He broke a lot of tackles and often made the first defender miss. Woodhead chipped in with eight rushes for 52 yards.

5. Eric Weddle continued his excellent play, highlighted by a nifty second-quarter interceptionRaiders QB Matt McGloin telegraphed a pass that Weddle easily diagnosed. The 2011 Pro Bowl safety deflected the throw with his outstretched left arm, dove, popped the ball skyward with his right arm and then corralled it as he laid flat on his stomach. Weddle could be headed to a second Pro Bowl, with two of five ATL writers voting for him on their ballots.

6. The Raiders don't use talented fullback Marcel Reece enough, much to the chagrin of fans, but he got an opportunity late in the game and blew it. On fourth-and-goal with 54 seconds left, McGloin lobbed it to a wide-open Reece, who tried to wrap both hands around the ball as it fell to the ground. Reece laid in the end zone with his hands on his head -- a fitting image for the Silver and Black's 2013 season.

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