Don’t look now, but the Oakland Raiders are 5-4, alone in second place in the AFC West, and very much a major player in the AFC Wild Card race. And the division? We can’t rule that out just yet either.
On Thursday night, the Raiders picked off Philip Rivers twice in the early going to take an immediate 10-0 lead and then proceeded to withstand charge after charge after charge, eventually hanging on for a 26-24 win thanks to rookie running back Josh Jacobs, who granted the Raiders their two-point lead with an 18-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter, and thanks to a defense that sacked Rivers five times and intercepted him three times. Derek Carr threw for 218 yards and a touchdown, and most importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over in an otherwise sloppy game that included 20 penalties split between the two teams. And rookie defensive end Clelin Ferrell racked up 2.5 sacks after entering the game with only one career sack.
There are plenty of takeaways from this AFC West showdown as we provide them here:
Why the Raiders won
The Raiders didn’t have the most impressive offensive performance, but their final drive in each half led them to to a much-needed victory. To close the first half trailing by a point, Oakland had a 10-play, 76-yard drive that led to a Derek Carr touchdown pass to Alec Ingold for the touchdown to give them a 20-14 lead heading into the half. The game-winning drive was also on the Raiders’ final possession, a 10-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a Josh Jacobs 18-yard touchdown run that led to the 26-24 victory. Both drives lasted just over three minutes as the Raiders perfectly executed the four-minute offense for their only two offensive touchdowns on the night. The Raiders defense also had five sacks and controlled the Chargers battered offensive line at the line of scrimmage on passing plays, which led to three interceptions by Philip Rivers.
Why the Chargers lost
Philip Rivers looked like a 37-year old quarterback from the opening snap in this one. Rivers may be dealing with an arm injury based on the way he was throwing passes over 10 yards, which could have led to his three-interception performance. Rivers was poor throughout the night as the Chargers couldn’t execute any downfield plays, taking away vertical threat with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams against a Raiders secondary that allowed a whomping 8.4 yards per pass. On the Chargers’ final possession trailing by two and needing a field goal to win, Rivers went 0-for-7 with an interception as the Chargers ran seven plays for zero yards, only gaining five yards on a holding call by the Raiders on a 4th-and-10 incompletion. Rivers finished 17 of 31 for 207 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, a very poor performance for an aging quarterback. It is important to note the Chargers were without both starting offensive tackles — Russell Okung left the game early with an injury and they were already starting a reserve right tackle.
Rivers was in for a long night from the first pass he threw, but Erik Harris had his number throughout the game. Harris delivered the back-breaking play to give the Raiders control of the game in the first quarter, intercepting a Rivers pass and taking it 56 yards for the touchdown to give the Raiders a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Chargers did rally to take a 14-13 lead, but that defensive touchdown ultimately cost the Chargers throughout the night. Harris had two interceptions in the first quarter and should have had three in the first half, but a penalty where Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby controversially lined up in the neutral zone negated an interception in the end zone. The Chargers scored on the next play.
Play of the game
Josh Jacobs getting the ball on third and 1 and running for an 18-yard touchdown that ended up being the game-winning touchdown is the obvious choice. The Raiders kept Jacobs fresh on the final drive by using Jalen Richard in the passing game, getting Oakland into the red zone before using a fresh Jacobs on the most important play of the game. The Raiders had nothing to lose using their best back on a third and short, just trying to get the first down. Jacobs got an excellent block by left guard Richie Incognito that created a huge hole and allowed him to find the end zone and give Oakland a 26-24 lead with 1:06 left.
The run was the longest by Jacobs on the night, proving how valuable he has been for the Raider softens this year.
“We got a lot of young guys, so I tell them to just pump their brakes a little bit. It’s my sixth year, and I’ve only been (to the playoffs) once and I didn’t even get to play; I broke my ankle. So I told them, ‘Let’s just pump our brakes and let’s just do our job. That’s all we need to focus on right now.’
“It does feel good to be in the hunt. We’re playing games that matter, just like tonight. And that’s what you want in November, you’re playing games that matter. We can set ourselves up, but we got seven games to go.” – Derek Carr to Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews on Raiders’ playoff talk.
The Raiders are 5-4 in the thick of the playoff hunt in the AFC, but Carr (now a veteran quarterback) knows they still have seven games left to play in this surprising season. Oakland’s next two games are against the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets and six of their final seven games are against teams with a losing record. The Raiders have a shot at clinching a playoff berth and potentially making a run at the AFC West title.
The Raiders (5-4) host the Cincinnati Bengals (0-8) on Sunday, November 17, getting 10 days off before facing one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Chargers (4-6) have 11 days before they host the Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) on Monday Night Football on November 18 in Mexico City. Los Angeles then has its bye week.
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That’s going to do it for our live game coverage, folks. Thanks so much for joining us! We’ll have takeaways posted shortly.
Yep, this one’s over now. Josh Jacobs picks up the first down. Oakland, 4-12 last year, is 5-4 and over .500 for the first time. The Chargers slip to 4-6 and see their 2-game winning steak come to an end. Los Angeles received a good game from Keenan Allen and a great game from Mel Gordon but could not overcome Rivers’ three picks. Derek Carr made the throws when he had to, and Josh Jacobs made the big play when the Raiders needed it most. Eric Harris’ 2 picks that led to 10 points were the main difference.
Very fittingly, an interception will likely end the game. Rivers threw two to start the game and one here at the end. Chargers’ last possession was really a mess. Unorganized and no flow. Also, need to give props to the Raiders’ pass rush for putting constant pressure on Rivers.
Rivers can’t throw the deep ball, but that was all Maxx Crosby getting to him. Good night.
Da Raiders are 5-4.
Chargers have ran four plays and gained 5 yards, all on penalties.
Raiders 12 penalties for 97 yards tonight.
The over of 49 has also been hit
Line -1 Chargers by the way. Throwing that out there.
Only the Raiders can get a penalty on a 4th-and-10. Chargers have life.
Surprised the Chargers didn’t try anything shorter and outside to Eckler to just get some easy yards. They have all 3 time outs.
Richie Incognito had a great block that took out two Chargers — Bosa included — to free Jacobs. But the Chargers have all 3 timeouts and 1:02 and are only down 2.
The Raiders’ interior offensive line is a big reason Josh Jacobs has been so successful.