Even before the Raiders game kicked off, they had a lot more to play for. With the Chiefs having lost to the Titans in the early going, the Raiders were now playing to re-take the lead in the AFC West they lost to those same Chiefs ten days ago. All they needed to do was win.
That bid didn’t get off to a good start.
With the Raiders winning the toss and deferring, the Chargers had the first drive. They started at their own 9-yard-line and drove 91 yards for the opening touchdown. The score came on a pass from Philip Rivers to Travis Benjamin who got behind Sean Smith for a 47-yard touchdown catch.
On their attempt to respond, the Raiders would only get as close as the San Diego 29-yard-line where Michael Crabtree dropped a pass slightly behind him, forcing the Raiders to settle for a 45-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal.
Though the rest of the first quarter, the Chargers could do nothing on offense. Again the Raiders were driving. They reached the 14-yard-line where Latavius Murray took it up the middle and fumbled it away to hold them scoreless on the possession.
It would be more of the same to start the second quarter. The Raiders drove into the red zone, this time on a nifty 28-yard catch and run by Amari Cooper. But Derek Carr threw a bad pass intended for a well covered Seth Roberts and it’s intercepted for the second straight red zone turnover of the day.
Another possession starting in San Diego territory would result in a punt due in part to Joey Bosa getting his third Carr sack of the season.
While the Raiders offense was not getting the job done in the first half, the defense was the story. After giving up 91 yards of offense to the Chargers on the opening drive, the Chargers had just 9 yards until final drive of the first half
Then suddenly the Chargers offense came alive. Completions to tight ends Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry picked up first downs on consecutive third downs. A few good run plays mixed in and the Chargers were in business. They went 63 yards where they were stopped at the 17-yard-line and added a field goal to make it a 10-3 lead with 1:29 remaining in the second quarter.
As they often do, the Raiders offense started to move in the waning seconds of the half. Runs of 9 and 33 yards by Latavius Murray put them in scoring position. A 12-yard run by DeAndre Washington set them up in first down at the 21. On third down, the Chargers were called for holding to put the Raiders in first down at the13-yard-line.
In first down, Derek Carr put the ball on a fade to the right to Michael Crabtree who leaned and tapped his feet inbounds for the touchdown and the Raiders tied it up 10-10 at the half.
Taking the field to open the second half, the Raiders offense continued its momentum from before the half by driving into the red zone again. On third down, Derek Carr very nearly had the Raiders’ third red zone turnover, with linebacker Melvin Ingram leaping in the air to nearly intercept his pass. Ingram couldn’t haul it in and the Raiders were able to convert on a 33-yard field goal to give them their first lead of the game at 13-10.
Answering were the Chargers, who quickly drove for a touchdown. On the drive Philip Rivers went 5 for 5 for 71 yards and the touchdown to tight end Hunter Henry. Josh Lambo would miss the extra point attempt and the Chargers would take back the lead at 16-13.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Raiders tipped the turnover battle back a little. Kenneth Farrow takes the hanfoff up the middle and Perry Riley Jr knocks the ball out. Malcolm Smith recovered it at the San Diego 13-yard-line.
A pass to Jamize Olawale picks up 12 yards and puts the Raiders in first and goal at the one-yard-line. They run it three-straight time – as one should do in that situation with that offensive line – and the Chargers stop them on all three runs for no gain. Janikowski knocked in the chipshot and the game was tied 16-16.
The Raiders would get the ball back with 6:27 left, starting at their own 20 off a punt for a touchback. A 27-yard run by Latavius Murray, followed by a 22-yard completion to Seth Roberts put the Raiders at the San Diego 31-yard-line.
A scamble by Derek Carr on third and 8 and the Raiders added a field goal to go up 19-16.
It was then up to the defense to end it with 2:35 remaining. On second down, Bruce Irvin sacked Rivers for the second time on the day. A pressure by Mack for an incompletion put the Chargers in 4th and 15 and they had to go for it.
Irvin got pressure again to hit Rivers as he threw and Reggie Nelson picked it off to seal the 19-16 victory.
The Raiders improved to 11-3 on the season. They take sole possession of the AFC West, clinch a playoff berth, and are in line for a top seed and a first round bye.
The Chargers were knocked out of playoff contention Saturday night when the Dolphins beat the Jets. They fall to 5-9 on the season with their 4th straight loss to the Raiders.