OAKLAND, Calif. -- Riding a five-game winning streak and favored to win by double digits, Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn had to guard against complacency ahead of his team's game with the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
"They have an understanding that we start over every week," Lynn said earlier in the week. "What we did last week really doesn't matter."
Well, for at least a quarter the Chargers appeared to be reading their press clippings. The Bolts looked lethargic early, allowing a 42-yard gain on a fake punt by punter Johnny Townsend. They trailed 3-0 with 2 minutes, 51 seconds left in the opening quarter after Daniel Carlson's 42-yard field goal.
But after a sluggish start, the Chargers finally got going, scoring 17 straight points in defeating the Raiders 20-6 on Sunday at Oakland-Alameda County Stadium for the team's sixth straight win.
"We've just got to play better in the first half," center Mike Pounceysaid. "We came out flat."
The Chargers improved to 7-2 on the year, the team's best record at this point of the season since 2006. The Bolts' six-game winning streak is the team's longest since 2009, when the Bolts won 11 straight to finish out the year.
With the New England Patriots losing 34-10 to the Tennessee Titans earlier in the day, the Chargers have become one of the power players in the AFC, along with the Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2-1).
The Chargers will get a chance to play both of those teams later this year, traveling to play the Steelers on Dec. 2 and to play the Chiefs on Dec. 13 for a Thursday night game.
"I don't care how pretty they are," Rivers said. "I don't care what the ratings are and all those things -- third-down percentage. Yes, we acknowledge those. We know we have to improve in those areas, but it’s just find a way to win, and we were able to do that again tonight."
The Chargers got the ball again to open the second half, with Rivers hitting Melvin Gordon in the flat and the Wisconsin product taking it 66 yards for his 11th touchdown of the season.
Rivers finished 18-of-26 passing for 223 yards, with two touchdown passes and his fourth interception of the year. Gordon finished with 165 yards from scrimmage.
The game was played with a haze of smoke surrounding the stadium from the deadly Camp Fire wildfire just a few hours north of the facility. The Raiders handed out masks to fans who wanted them to help deal with the unhealthy air conditions.