NFL@L.A.: 2011 Week 17 coverage

Wrap-up: Chargers 38, Raiders 26

January, 1, 2012
1/01/12
6:29
PM PT

A look at a blown opportunity by the Oakland Raiders as they lost 38-26 against the San Diego Chargers.

What it means: The Raiders will never forget this day. All Oakland had to do was beat the eliminated Chargers at home and they would have won the AFC West title because the Denver Broncos already lost at home to the Kansas City Chiefs. Yet, the Raiders were thumped by the Chargers, a team that the Raiders had completely handled the past three times they met. San Diego was the better team as the Raiders ended the season losing four of their final five games to finish 8-8. The Raiders haven’t been to the playoffs in nine years and are tied for the second longest drought in the NFL.

Support for Turner: It was probably too late, but give credit to the Chargers for playing hard for coach Norv Turner. He will likely be fired because the Chargers failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year. Still, if this was the end, it was impressive.

Jackson’s prediction doesn’t come true: Oakland rookie head coach Hue Jackson predicted earlier in the season the Raiders would win the AFC West. He and his troops had their chances, but they couldn’t get it done. Next season, Jackson needs to just coach and not prognosticate.

Palmer isn’t a difference maker: The Raiders traded two premium picks (including their first-round pick in April) to Cincinnati for Carson Palmer.Palmer did throw for 417 yards, but he wasn’t the difference. Now, the Raiders have to move forward with the 32-year-old and hope he doesn’t continue to decline as he had for the past three years. The Raiders went all in for 2011 with the Palmer trade and all they got was a second straight 8-8 season and no playoff berth.

Penalty kings: To add injury to insult, the Raiders set the NFL season record for penalties and penalty yardage Sunday. Oakland was penalized 163 times for 1,358 yards, surpassing the totals of 158 penalties for 1,304 yards set by the 1998 Chiefs.

Another bad defensive day for Oakland: San Diego was awesome on offense. It had 463 yards and never punted. Expect the calls for Oakland defensive coordinator Chuck Breshnahan to be fired to get very loud.

Wrap-up: 49ers 34, Rams 27

January, 1, 2012
1/01/12
2:21
PM PT
Thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams during their Week 17 game at the Edward Jones Dome, a 34-27 victory for San Francisco:

What it means: The 49ers played to win in securing the NFC's second seed in the playoffs and the first-round bye that goes along with it. Securing the bye was hugely important for the 49ers given their injury situation. Coach Jim Harbaugh showed how much this game meant to the team. He allowed Patrick Willis to play for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury. He approved a fake field goal when the 49ers led by 10 points late in the third quarter. The 49ers needed to play well because the Rams put together a furious comeback -- a potential last stand for coach Steve Spagnuolo. The Rams emerged with the No. 2 overall choice in the 2012 draft when Indianapolis also lost.

What I liked: Both teams played aggressively to win. Even the interception St. Louis threw on an ill-fated trick play showed Spagnuolo wasn't going to go quietly in what could have been his final game. The 49ers adjusted to their personnel issues by making Vernon Davis a bigger part of the passing game. Davis topped 100 yards. The fake field goal they executed was brilliant for the way it tricked the Rams into overlooking Michael Crabtree's presence on the field as a wide receiver. The Rams, meanwhile, put up a great fight in coming back from a 27-10 deficit even though they lost Steven Jackson to injury. Kicker Josh Brown provided a perfect onside kick that the Rams recovered. Third-string quarterback Kellen Clemens found Brandon Lloyd for the touchdown that pulled St. Louis within 34-27. And the 49ers, though reeling in the final minutes, came through with the defensive play they needed when NaVorro Bowman sacked Clemens and knocked him from the game with a leg injury at the 2:46 mark.

What I didn't like: Rams rookie tight end Lance Kendricks showed great promise in training camp, but his regular-season struggles continued in this game. The pass Kendricks dropped near the first-down marker with 6:15 left in the first half left the Rams in a third-and-10 situation. They fumbled the snap on their next play, setting up the 49ers to stretch their lead from 17-7 to 20-7. The 49ers gave up a rushing touchdown for the second week in a row. Willis, playing for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury Dec. 4, could not get around Rams tight end Stephen Spach when Jackson broke through the line for a 27-yard gain. The injury to Clemens was horribly unfortunate, but also an indication of the protection problems the Rams have had all season. The 49ers' defense, though facing the most limited offense in the NFL, blew a chance to set a franchise record for lowest points per game allowed. They needed to allow 15 or fewer points to break the 1976 team's NFL-era franchise record. They needed to allow 13 or fewer points to break the all-time franchise record, set in the AAFC era.

What's next: The 49ers have a week off before playing in the NFC divisional playoff round. That game will be at Candlestick Park. The Rams hold the second overall choice in the 2012 NFL draft.

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TEAM LEADERS

PASSING
Philip Rivers
ATT COMP YDS TD
271 185 2213 20
RUSHINGCARYDSAVGTD
B. Oliver 85 352 4.1 2
D. Brown 59 126 2.1 0
RECEIVINGRECYDSAVGTD
M. Floyd 24 470 19.6 3
K. Allen 43 427 9.9 1