The Las Vegas Raiders took flight to Los Angeles and got their taste of the Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert for the first time this season. As a result, the game couldn’t have finished any closer.
The Las Vegas Raiders (5-3) went to Los Angeles looking for their second-straight win against a struggling team that had done just about everything but win, and, again, broke the Chargers (2-6) heart late in a 31-26 win.
The Raiders showcased another game in which they relied heavily on their running attack, rushing for 160 yards with both Josh Jacobs (65) and Devontae Booker (68) leading the way. Even with the effective ground game, scoring over 30 points for the fourth time in eight weeks, Las Vegas needed a big defensive stop at the end of the game to secure the win.
I’m just very proud of our team,” Coach Jon Gruden said. “We went through a lot of adversity and, in this league, you have to find a way to win. The Chargers —I give them a lot of credit —every one of their games come down to the final play and we’re just happy to win.”
Rookie phenom Justin Herbert keep the Chargers in reach until the final second of play when the quarterback’s apparent touchdown to tight end Donald Parham Jr. was overturned. Upon review, it was clear the ball hit the ground as Parham was stripped by defensive hero Isaiah Johnson.
Sunday in Los Angeles, the Raiders got back to a similar formula that awarded them a victory last week in Cleveland — running the football. Quarterback Derek Carr handed the ball of to a committee of rushers 24 times and ran it himself twice, averaging 6.2 yards per carry as a team.
Through the air, Carr went 13-for-22 with 160 yards and two touchdowns.
“This is a fun group, because depending on what we’re seeing and depending on the adjustments, we can win in a lot of different ways,” Carr said after the game. “I’m really proud of the guys who have stepped up, really proud of our coaching staff for getting those guys ready. Sometimes, when the starters get all the reps, the other guys are forgotten about during game week, but not here. Everyone is coached as if they’re a starter and we’ve needed it, so it’s been cool.”
Early in the first quarter, the Las Vegas offensive line showed its holes of the patched-up unit as they struggled in pass protection. Running the ball was an area they had a much easier time handling, making it apparent to why the Raiders ran the ball more than they passed today. With Kolton Miller (ankle) ruled out, the Raiders offensive line looked as such: Brandon Parker, Denzelle Good, Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson and Sam Young — from left to right.
Defensively, Clelin Ferrell stood out, applying pressure to Herbert and forcing throws. Ferrell had four quarterback hits — surpassing his season total of two. He also contributed in run support, recording a much-needed tackle for loss on 3rd and 1, forcing a fourth down.
After each team started the game going three and out, the Chargers got the ball back and sent out Michael Badgley for the 48-yard field goal attempt where they came up empty.
The first score of the game came by the Raiders, who marched 62 yards on seven plays, capping a 23-yard touchdown run by Devontae Booker to give Las Vegas the early lead 7-0.
In the second quarter, both teams began clicking with their run games. The Chargers went for a 4th and 1 attempt and pitched the ball to recently signed Kalen Ballage (playing in his first game as a Charger) to the right side where he found the end zone in his Chargers debut.
After the Chargers established the run, Herbert began letting it fly to Keenan Allen, who the Raiders had no answers for in coverage. Allen finished the day with nine catches for 103 yards and one touchdown.
Just before halftime, Carr was stripped of the ball by Jerry Tillery with five seconds left. The Chargers cashed in with a field goal, giving them a 17-14 lead heading into the third quarter. The play call by Gruden was curious and the 10-point swing was suspect.
“No, again, that’s my call. We scored with 25 seconds left against New England in the two- minute drill,” Gruden said on why they just didn’t kneel with the game tied at 14. “If you look at the play, [TE] Darren Waller is wide open. We had a big play to Waller. Unfortunately, the ball got knocked out. We gave up a big third-and-15, then we gave up a touchdown.”
The Raiders didn’t let the end of the first half folly keep them down long. Coming out of the half, Carr began using the deep ball and hit Nelson Agholor for a 45-yard touchdown. Agholor now has five touchdowns on the season after hauling in just three last season in Philadelphia.
On the following drive, Carr let it rip once again, hitting Hunter Renfrow for 53 yards after rolling to his right and directing traffic. Carr then took matters into his own hands, leaping over a defender for the first down and capping it off with a touchdown strike to Waller on the goalline, giving the Raiders a 28-17 lead.
Answering back, the Chargers connect on a big play with safety Jonathan Abram in coverage as Herbert hit Tyron Johnson for 50 yards. The Chargers wind up settling for a field goal, making it a 28-20 ball game.
The Raiders get the ball back and march downfield, but settle for a field goal after putting their offense on the field for 4th and 2. Heading into today, the Raiders were 6 for 6 on 4th down in the games they won and 2 for 4 in their three losses.
Herbert answered back once again, throwing a touchdown to fullback Gabe Nabers whle getting blasted into the turf with Maxx Crosby bearing down on him. Herbert was shaken up and would leave the field for the two-point conversion in which Tyrod Taylor attempted but came up empty.
The Raiders tacked on a field goal making it 31-26. But in the final minutes, the Chargers retain the ball and put together a drive where they looked to be in business.
Fortunately for the Raiders, Coach Anthony Lynn and his Chargers offense showed poor efforts in clock management, making it a race to the end zone with the final ticks expiring.
Herbert would then hit Mike Williams with a catch at the 4-yard line but he couldn’t get out of bounds. In the final six seconds left, Herbert looked to Williams again but he couldn’t hang on for the acrobatic catch.
That left just one second remaining. On the final play, Herbert connected with Parham for the touchdown, but after a booth review it was overturned as he didn’t have possession of the ball.
The heroics of cornerback Isaiah Johnson, getting his most playing time of the year, for two consecutive plays sealed the win for the Raiders.
The Raiders leave Los Angeles with a nail-biting win and will host the Denver Broncos next week inside Alligent stadium.