Another AFC West classic between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders, this time the Justin Herbert versus Derek Carr edition. A last second corner fade from Herbert to Donald Parham Jr, was seemingly the game winning touchdown until ruled incomplete, leading to Raiders win 31 - 26.
A well documented struggling defense for the Las Vegas Raiders was almost the kryptonite for the silver and black in this game, as Keenan Allen was nine catches for 104 yards and a touchdown, Mike Williams also played a factor but did have two drops in the endzone, Kalen Ballage was a bowling ball for the Bolts, as he rushed for 69 yards and a score. Justin Herbert was under some pressure in this game but was able to sling the ball around for 327 yards and two touchdowns. Defensive pressure still left a lot to be desired as team leader sacks, Maxx Crosby had a sack and so did Carl Nassib but today a true weakness in tackling was exposed on the defensive side of the ball for Las Vegas.
Offensively, it took a half to warm up, as in the first half of play the Raiders scored two rushing touchdowns one from Devante Booker who had 69 yards and a touchdown, then the other rushing score came from Josh Jacobs who had a 65 yard performance. A crucial play right before half came when Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden, decided to stay aggressive before half time, testing the deep waters to put the Raiders in field goal range to score more points before half, Derek Carr was stripped sacked. Leading to the Chargers being able to execute Gruden’s own plan of taking a lead into half, 17-14.
In the second half, Derek Carr showed his leadership and toughness once again this season. After only 44 yards off of Carr’s arm, Carr upped the workload and tossed for 121 yards with a beatiful over the shoulder catch from Nelson Agholor for a 45-yard touchdown, to then follow up the next drive with a 53-yard bomb to Hunter Renfrow as he rolled to his right. This would lead to Carr’s second touchdown of the day, to Darren Waller.
The Chargers would not go away though, rookie quarterback Justin Herbert was improvising with ease as he tossed a miraculous touchdown to fullback Gabe Nabers, this would bring the game within reach for the Chargers 28 - 26 after a failed two point conversion. After holding the Raiders to three points, the Chargers looked to change their fourtions of the last few weeks.
It has been heartbreak after heartbreak for the Chargers this year, many leads blown and on this day the Chargers had the opportunity to come down the field and win the football game. Isaiah Johnson, the second year corner, was targeted on both possible game winning throws, he helped force the drop of a Mike Williams game winner and was able to do enough to disrupt the ball from the hands of Pharham Jr. Granted, you won’t find yourself watching a Chargers game without some uncertainty and confusion, as Pharham Jr seemingly had caught the ball at first, the Chargers exploded into celebration. Ultimately and unfortunately for them, the call was overturned and the ball was clearly out of the possession of Pharham Jr.
Las Vegas has won back to back games for the first time this season, moving to 5-3. Where as the Chargers, remain extremely competitive find themselves 2-6. These two rivals will meet again on Thursday Night Football in Las Vegas in week 15. For now, the Raiders find themselves in the playoff mix on the outside looking in, with another AFC west divisional game next Sunday at home against the 3-5 Denver Broncos.