SAN DIEGO -- The NFL pregame shows Sunday confirmed what Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and his teammates suspected: No one believed they had a shot at beating the San Diego Chargers.
Everyone was picking the red-hot Chargers to beat the reeling Raiders. And why not? The Chargers had won four straight, the Raiders had lost two in a row, and recent history offered nothing in Oakland's favor.
By game's end, the Raiders made believers out of the Chargers and, perhaps, many others who felt as if they were on the brink of a late-season collapse, fashioning a convincing 28-13 victory at Qualcomm Stadium.
"We made a point after seeing all that stuff, everyone choosing the Chargers, we had to show them something," Asomugha said. "And the fact that we were able to get the win with all that against us, no one believing in us, that's big for us."
The Raiders kept alive their playoff hopes just as they had dimmed to the point of being extinguished.
The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Denver Broncos on Sunday and improved to 8-4 in the AFC West. That made the Chargers game all the more important for the Raiders if they hoped to remain in contention for a division title. They moved into a second-place tie with the Chargers at 6-6 and stayed within two games of the Chiefs.
The Raiders snapped their two-game skid by getting back to the style of play that recently propelled them to three straight wins. They relied on a punishing running game, a complementary passing attack and an unrelenting defensive scheme.
"We hadn't played the type of ball we wanted to the last two weeks, and we knew we were better than what we put out on the field," Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour said. "Physically we're capable, and we have the talent to beat anybody, but we have to show that on Sundays week in and week out."
The Raiders ran the ball straight at the heart of the Chargers defense from the outset and kept pounding away. In all, the Raiders amassed 251 yards on 52 carries.
"They executed better than we did," Chargers linebacker Stephen Cooper said. "They got off the ball fast, they made their blocks, and they stayed with their blocks."
Darren McFadden ran for 97 yards on 19 carries, and Michael Bush gained 95 yards on 23 tries, each scoring one of Oakland's four touchdowns.
The cumulative effect of the rushing attack manifested itself midway through the game, McFadden said.
"You see (defenders) with their hands on their hips; that's always a sign," he said. "Once you see that, you just want to keep going at them."
So it was that the Raiders kept running the ball, kept the ball away from the league's top-ranked offense for all but 21 minutes, 21 seconds and kept their defense fresh.
The Chargers were so intent on stopping the run that they became susceptible to play-action fakes.
Campbell scored on a 9-yard run on one such occasion, with the Chargers crashing the line of scrimmage on the fourth-and-one play and overlooking the quarterback as he rolled to his left and strolled into the end zone untouched.
"This is what we're capable of when we do things the right way," coach Tom Cable said. "A tremendous football game by the Raiders. Getting back to our identity, getting back to what we do best, and that's play hard on defense, battle them in the kicking game and run the football."
The defense matched the offense's effectiveness on the strength of a scheme devised by coordinator John Marshall that called for the four linemen to generate enough pressure on Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers so that the seven other defenders could blanket the receivers.
The Raiders sacked Rivers four times, hit him numerous times after he released the ball and harassed him nonstop.
"You have to put pressure on him, even if it's just guys around his feet or around his legs, just so he feels like he has to get the ball out," Seymour said. "It was just a great effort from the guys up front."
The six victories are more than the Raiders accumulated in any of the past seven seasons. That's all well and good, Cable said, but it isn't the team's primary goal.
"We're at a point at (6-6) where we have got to come out and win, period," Cable said. "It doesn't matter what anyone else is doing right now. We just have to be us and take care of us. If we can do that, then we probably have a chance at this thing."
That's more than many people gave them before they beat the Chargers.