SAN DIEGO -- The Raiders finished the season strong on defense, giving up fewer than 5 yards per play Sunday for the third straight game in a 24-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium.
San Diego scored on a 99-yard kickoff return by Mike Spurlock, a short-field 47-yard drive in part because of a poor Shane Lechler punt and on an 81-yard drive in the second quarter that ultimately was their undoing.
The Chargers were just 2 for 11 on third-down conversions, with the Raiders shutting off the run (31 carries, 70 yards), sacking quarterback Philip Rivers twice and pressuring him throughout the game.
"I thought they got off the blocks and played with the right kind of attitude,'' coach Dennis Allen said. "That momentum that we've gained defensively, we have to carry that forward."
Defensive end Lamarr Houston, a likely cornerstone of the Raiders defense next season, had 13 tackles, 1.5 sacks and two tackles for losses.
"I think guys are just really keying in on their jobs and taking the next step to prepare for our team," Houston said. "I think we've been doing a good job, things haven't turned out the way we wanted them to, but I can see us getting better.''
Free safety Matt Giordano, who nearly stopped the Chargers' 81-yard scoring drive but failed to hold a leaping attempt at an interception, said it was a matter of defenders having faith in the system and each other.
"It wasn't like they were giving us sugar pills to make us run faster or play better,'' Giordano said. "I think the issue of trust was there, the issue of just doing your job was there, not trying to overcompensate for making bigger plays.''
The Raiders, ranked second in rushing in 2010 and seventh last season, came into the game ranked 30th and gained just 115 yards -- 49 of which came from quarterback Terrelle Pryor on nine carries.
"I don't want to speak on it anymore,'' McFadden said of his production. "It is what it is. The season is over now. I am just looking forward to next year.''
With McFadden entering the last year of his contract, the Raiders need to determine if they want to move away from their commitment to the zone blocking scheme to fit his skills or look to trade him, perhaps for additional draft picks.
"We like Lucas Nix. He's a guy we've been watching as the year's gone on,'' Allen said. "It was one of those opportunities in the last game and we wanted to see him to get an evaluation. Without looking at the tape, I thought both of them did fairly well.''
Aside from the Jets and Giants, the Raiders face Houston, Indianapolis and Dallas as well as AFC West rivals Denver, Kansas City and San Diego.
At home, other than the Broncos, Chiefs and Chargers, the Raiders will host Jacksonville, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington.
The Raiders are without their second-round pick from the Carson Palmer trade, and a fifth-round pick in the deal to acquire Aaron Curry last season.