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Chargers-Raiders recap, final score: Chargers finding new ways to choke, lose 34-31

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Another shootout for the Raiders ended with another epic choke job by the Chargers as the Raiders take their place atop the division.

It was a turnover battle early on, starting with the Raiders. Derek Carr attempted a screen pass intended for DeAndre Washington and it was picked off at the line by nose tackle Brandon Mebane.

It gave the Chargers the ball in scoring position at the Oakland 30-yard-line. On third and two, they looked to have the first down on a pass to Antonio Gates over the middle, but newly signed Raiders linebacker, Perry Riley punched the ball out and the oft opportunistic Reggie Nelson was right there to catch it in the air.

The Raiders would take over at their 11-yard-line and went on a long drive. It nearly didn’t happen though, with Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram getting a hand on a pass and just missing an interception. Carr would get it together though, connecting with Amari Cooper twice for 11 and 26 yards. A 15-yard pass to Michael Crabtree would put the Raiders at first and goal from the 3-yard-line, but they were unable to finish it off. A Washington run for a short gain, and incomplete pass to Seth Roberts out right, followed by a pass to the left side of the end zone which Amari Cooper couldn’t catch inbounds and they settled for a field goal.

Trying to answer, Philip Rivers went for Travis Benjamin on a long post route and Sean Smith was right there to pick it off. A 27-yard return had the Raiders at the San Diego 32-yard-line, but a couple false starts and a run stuff for a loss meant the Raiders would go nowhere. Again, they settled for a field goal off the turnover, but the 50-yard attempt by Sebastian Janikowski missed wide right.

The Chargers would answer with the first touchdown drive of the game. The touchdown was a perfect strike by Philip Rivers to Tyrell Williams who got a step on David Amerson and was gone for a 29-yard touchdown.

Another long Raiders drive ended with another field goal was answered with a Chargers field goal to keep the 4-point difference at 10-6. That’s where it looked like it was stay, but Philip Rivers threw a ball up for grabs at the end of the second quarter that was picked by Karl Joseph. After his return, the Raiders would be set up in scoring position. Janikowski came out for a 56-yard attempt and nailed it to send the teams into the locker room with the Chargers up 10-9.

As has been the case with the Raiders throughout the season so far, the shootout began in the second half. The Chargers got it first and two big plays got them in the end zone. Rivers had a wide open Hunter Henry over the middle who got away from Reggie Nelson for a 59-yard gain. Two plays later, Rivers had Melvin Gordon wide open on a swing pass for an easy touchdown from 18 yards out.

The Raiders have their first real answer of the day on the ensuing drive. First it was Michael Crabtree for 11 yards along the right sideline on third and ten to keep the drive alive. Then Amari Cooper got behind his defender to catch a pass from Carr and go 64 yards for the score.

It would keep going back and forth, with the Chargers answering the Raiders answer for another quick drive. It began with a 50-yard pass to Tyrell Williams who again got by David Amerson. Once again, Gordon followed that with a big play of his own, running for 24 yards to the one. And again, tight end Hunter Henry got by Reggie Nelson for the wide open touchdown catch.

There would be no touchdown response from the Raiders. They could only muster a field goal. But a Stacy McGee forced fumble on Melvin Gordon would give them the ball right back at the San Diego 38-yard-line. Jack Del Rio rolled the dice and go for it on fourth and 2. And of course, it was a Carr pass to Michael Crabtree for the touchdown for the 21-yard touchdown.

Up one, they would go for two and convert on a Carr pass to Amari Cooper to take a 27-24 lead at the end of the third quarter.

A three-and-out and a shanked punt that traveled just 16 yards would give the Raiders great field position again to start the fourth quarter. Taking over at the San Diego 32-yard-line they would drive for a touchdown. That score looked initially to come on a pass to Amari Cooper in the back of the end zone, but once again, Cooper was ruled to have stepped out of bounds. After a long conversation among the officials, the ruling was pass interference on the Chargers that put the Raiders in first and goal at the one. Jamize Olawale punched it in up the middle for a 34-24 lead.

The Chargers wouldn’t go quietly. They drove for a touchdown of their own to pull within three. A stop gave the Chargers the ball back with just over four minutes remaining. They would drive quickly into scoring position, where there were stopped a yard short on third and two.

Kicker Josh Lambo came out to try and tie it on a 35-yard field goal, but the holder mishandled the snap and the kick never got off. It was just the latest chapter for a Chargers team that has given away every one of their losses this season late.

The Raiders would run the clock out and escape with the 34-31 victory.

With the Broncos losing to the Falcons, the Raiders are now tied at 4-1 atop the AFC West. The Chargers fall to 1-4, firmly in the division cellar.