Oh, the importance of a long snapper.
Oakland long snapper Jon Condo, who was a Pro Bowler in 2009, left Monday night's game in the second quarter with a head injury and did not return. The Raiders, of course, didn't have a backup long snapper. No team does. That's one of the reasons why we saw Redskins long snapper Nick Sundberg play with a broken arm against the Saints.
The Raiders replaced Condo with backup linebacker Travis Goethel, and the results were disastrous.
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Two of Goethel's snaps were ground balls, which was fitting because both took place in the infield of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. A third got off of the ground but the ensuing punt was blocked by San Diego's Sante Rosario and recovered by the Chargers inside Oakland's 10-yard line (the first blocked punt on Shane Lechler since 2006). All took place in the second half.
"He's worked on snapping the ball, and actually he's done a nice job in practice, but it's obviously a lot different when you get in a game-like situation. He was put into a tough situation, and it hurt us," Raiders coach Dennis Allen conceded after the game.
Despite the Raiders' punting woes, the Chargers were never able to pull away in the second half, settling for a pair of Nate Kaeding field goals in both the third and fourth quarters. After a late touchdown pass from Carson Palmer and two-point conversion, the Raiders actually had a chance to come back with an onside kick in the final minute, but San Diego recovered it and held on to win 22-14.
"Trust me, I wish it never happened," Goethel said after the loss.