Sunday played out like two of the three previous Raiders wins this season. With a shootout late that resulted in the offense saving the day and pulling out a close win. Though the first two close wins were by one point, making the three-point margin almost seeming decisive.
These games all seem to get off to a slow start. A 3-0 Raiders lead at the end of the first quarter went into halftime as a 10-9 Chargers lead. The Chargers’ having the only touchdown at that point was the difference. That turned around very quickly in the second half.
There were scores on four consecutive possessions to begin the second half and five of six. The last score showcased the same gambling mentality Jack Del Rio showed in the opener. He opted to go for it on fourth and two from the San Diego 21-yard-line, and came up big Derek Carr throwing a touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree to take their first lead since early in the second quarter.
The Raiders weren’t done either, adding another touchdown to open the fourth quarter. The Chargers would pull to within three late, but with two minutes left, their attempt to tie it with a field goal ended with a botched hold and the Raiders escaped with a 34-31 victory to improve to 4-1.
What began as a clunky performance, once again ended with a lot of credit to hand out for the win.
The way this game started, DC did not look headed for this spot on this week’s list. He looked rattled early on, even throwing a ‘what the Hell was that?’ interception to the Chargers nose tackle on what was supposed to be a screen. He began the next drive by very nearly throwing a second interception and overthrowing his receiver to put the team in third and ten. Then he settled down and thereby the Raiders offense did too.
That third down, he connected with Amari Cooper for 11 yards. Then he converted another third down with a 26-yard long ball to Coop up the left sideline. A 22-yard slant to Jalen Richard and a 15-yard pass to Michael Crabtree and the Raiders were in first and goal at the 3-yard-line. It was poor play calling and Cooper’s inability to keep his feet inbounds after the catch that resulted in just a field goal out of that drive.
Three more times the Raiders would be in scoring position in the first half, all without a touchdown. That streak ended with the first drive of the third quarter on a 64-yard touchdown bomb to Cooper. It continued with the Raiders scoring on four consecutive possessions; three of which were for touchdowns.
Near the end of the third quarter, the Raiders were in 4th and 2 from the 21-yard-line. Jack Del Rio opted to go for it. It appeared as if Carr may have changed the play at the line, and Del Rio suggested on Monday that may indeed have been the case. The play Carr called was to go for Michael Crabtree in single coverage. Carr placed the ball perfectly over Crabtree’s shoulder, away from the defender for the touchdown to give the Raiders the 27-24 lead which they carried into the fourth quarter.
A shanked punt by the Chargers gave the Raiders the ball at the San Diego 32-yard-line. Carr completed two passes for 17 yards to put them in first and goal from the 7. They punched it in two plays later to give them 34 points which was what they needed to put the game away.
Carr finished 25 of 40 (62%) for 317 yards, two touchdown, and one interception for a passer rating of 93.4.
Damn, Stacy, get some. Seemingly out of nowhere, this fourth-year defensive tackle was an unstoppable force on the inside pass rush. How out-of-nowhere was it? Well, prior to this game he had a career total of 1.5 sacks with no forced fumbles. He matched that career total in this game with 1.5 sacks along with two forced fumbles.
Even before those big plays, he had a QB hurry, resulting in an incompletion. His first sack came on the first play of the third quarter. It was a strip sack that the Chargers recovered for a 7-yard-loss.
Later in the third quarter, he had his second forced fumble on a Melvin Gordon run play. This time the Raiders recovered at the San Diego 38-yard-line. They took the short field and drove for the go-ahead touchdown. McGee wasn’t done, though. He had to make sure that lead remained, so he sacked Rivers again to stop their ensuing drive.
He may have added another sack or at least a QB hit on the Chargers’ next drive, but he was held. It was not called by the official and luckily Rivers’ pass was defended and fell incomplete. Even still, without the penalty yardage, the Chargers picked up the first down on the next play.
Hell of a game, Stacy. A much needed one by any Raiders defensive lineman.
A common question once it was known that Latavius Murray wouldn’t play was who would get more touches between Richard and DeAndre Washington. My response was that they would be pretty equal. The final result was Richard with 15 touches, Washington with 15 touches. But the undrafted Richard outshined his fellow drafted rookie both as a runner and as a receiver.
Richard’s contributions may have been rather quiet, but no less important. On the first drive, on consecutive plays, he caught a slant pass for 22 yards, had a 7-yard run and a 4-yard run in which he drove through defenders for the first down. It put them in scoring range and they finished it off with a field goal.
Early in the second quarter, he had runs of 6 and 5 yards followed by a catch in which his defender grabbed him, was called for pass interference, and yet he somehow still appeared to have hauled it in. They took the penalty which set them up for another short field goal. The team’s third field goal to end the first half was set up by a 15-yard catch and run by Richard.
With a short field to begin the fourth quarter at the 32-yard line after a shanked punt, Richard started things off picking up 11 yards on a screen as the Raiders drove for the touchdown to take a 34-24 lead.
Richard finished with 97 yards from scrimmage with a team leading 31 yards on 8 carries (3.9 ypc) and was second behind only Amari Cooper (138) with 66 yards receiving.
Half of Carr’s passes to Cooper (12) fell incomplete. Several of those incompletions were as a result of Cooper’s inability to keep his (damn) feet in bounds. The mere fact that he is still a Baller for this game should tell you how good he was even despite his frustrating missed opportunities.
The first drive he had an 11-yard catch on third and ten. It ended with him making what appeared for an instant to be a great catch for a touchdown, but he didn’t drag his feet ala Michael Crabtree and it was therefore ruled incomplete.
Early in the second quarter, he started a drive with a 7-yard catch, later had a 21-yard reception on third and six, but once again had a catch in the end zone in which he failed to keep his feet in bounds. And the result was another field goal.
To begin the third quarter, he finally managed to catch a pass without having gone out of bounds. He got behind his defender, caught the pass, and streaked for a 64-yard touchdown – his first of the season, as it turns out.
Following the go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter, the Raiders went for two. But with the Chargers undoubtedly expecting the ball to go to Crabtree, Carr connected with Cooper over the middle to pick it up and take a three-point lead.
A short time later, the Raiders were in position to extend the lead. Carr again looked to Cooper who was running along the back line of the end zone. Cooper was led out of bounds, and this time actually put up enough of a fight to have the defender called for pass interference. Cooper caught the ball, but hadn’t re-established himself inbounds, or else he would have had his second touchdown. The Raiders ran it in on the next play, so the score was the same in the end.
He finished leading all receivers with 138 yards and a touchdown on six catches.
In the first quarter, following the Raiders jumping out to a 3-0 lead, Philip Rivers tried to take it back on one play. He thought he had Corey Benjamin open on a post pattern, but it wasn’t quite all it appeared. Smith appeared to have baited him, quickly closing on Benjamin and using his height and long arms to pluck the ball out the air in front of him. He easily shook off the tackle attempt by Benjamin, returning the pick 27 yards to the San Diego 32-yard-line.
Smith had a few nice tackles as well including a tackle on a 3-yard catch on third and four, and a stuff on a one-yard run. He added two passes defended while giving up just one catch for 25 yards on the Chargers’ final drive.
Joseph recorded his first career interception in this game. It came at the end of the first half to give the Raiders the ball with a short field, allowing them to added a third field goal. But his fine work started on the drive before that with tackles on three straight plays to end the Chargers’ drive, forcing them to settle for a field goal.
In the third quarter, he pounced on a forced fumble for his second turnover of the day. The Raiders would once again take the short field and score, but this time it was a touchdown drive. Joseph added a pass defended later in the quarter.
That being said, his performance on the Chargers last touchdown drive threatened to undo his day. On that drive he gave up three catches for 48 yards that set them up at the 17-yard-line. That drive was the one major blemish on an otherwise fantastic day for Joseph.
He did have a miss from 50 yards out, but he made up for it with a 56-yard field goal late in the first half. It was his third of the day to make up all the Raiders’ points in the first half. He added a fourth field goal from 48 yards out in the second half.
Michael Crabtree -- He two big catches in the game. One went for 11 yards on third and ten to set up the 64-yard touchdown to Cooper. The other was the 21-yard touchdown grab on fourth and three. He also had two drops, both coming on third down to kill drives.
Perry Riley Jr – Got his welcome to the Raider Nation on the first drive when he punched the ball out of the arms of Antonio Gates to hold the Chargers scoreless to begin the game. He led the team with 7 combined tackles. Though he also gave up the Chargers’ final touchdown on a 4-yard catch.
Jihad Ward – Made the final tackle for the Raiders which stopped the Chargers short of the first down and set up their botched field goal attempt.
Gabe Jackson – His one big mistake was being called for holding on the Raiders second drive. Otherwise he played with several run blocks, including a key block on the Jamize Olawale 1-yard touchdown run.