In their final AFC West showdown at the Coliseum, the Raiders made it count against the Chargers on Thursday Night Football with a narrow 26-24 victory. It was easily the best performance of the season for the defense, and the Raiders mustered just enough offense when it mattered most to grab the victory. Who excelled, who underwhelmed and what’s next? Here are this week’s Sensations, Frustrations and Declarations:
Harris played the best game of his football career tonight and practically willed the Raiders to a win on his own. Seriously, he probably never even had a game that good in Pop Warner.
Harris was most certainly the sensation of the night, grabbing a pair of interceptions in the first quarter and nearly picking off five balls total on the night.
He returned his first quarter interceptions for 59- and 56-yards, with the latter going for a touchdown that gave Oakland a 10-0 lead. Harris wasn’t fully trusted in this defense early on this season, but he sure as hell is now. Signed to just a $2.35 million deal for 2020, Harris is a candidate for a sizable offseason extension if his inspired play continues.
Raiders pass rush
This one could go to Clelin Ferrell alone for having a true breakout performance, but the entire pass rush was sensational tonight.
Sure, the Chargers offensive line has been lacking and was missing RT Sam Tevi and eventually LT Russell Okung during the game, but the pass rush was persistent and impactful all night. Along with Ferrell’s 2.5 sacks, Benson Mayowa stepped up for 1.5 sacks and Maurice Hurst and Maxx Crosby chipped in with a half sack each.
Mayowa now has a career-high 7 sacks on the year despite playing less than half of defensive snaps in every game this season. He is making the most of his limited opportunities and has proven to be an underrated catalyst for the defense.
FULLBACK TIME! Let me preface this by saying that Alec Ingold is always a sensation. But tonight, he deserves some extra recognition. While he had two penalties early on in the game, he more than made amends.
Ingold kept the Raider offense chugging with a key fourth-and-one conversion, before taking a Spider-2 Y-Banana for a 9-yard touchdown to give Oakland a 17-14 halftime advantage. The 23-year old undrafted rookie is carving out a name for himself at a position that is nearly extinct in the modern era, and he may even have put himself into Pro Bowl conversation with his showing tonight.
Penalties. So many penalties.
A whopping 12 penalties for 97 yards kept the Chargers in this game. Two interceptions were called back via penalty. The first on a Trayvon Mullen defensive pass interference call that negated a Karl Joseph interception, and the second on a Crosby offsides that waived off one of Harris’ potential picks.
The Raiders defense was really trying to live in the Chargers backfield without paying any rent. They didn’t even consider chipping in for the utility bill, and in turn were called for an absurd four offside penalties. Even on the Chargers final gasp for air on the last drive, it seemed like the secondary was on the verge of being called for a penalty on every play.
It didn’t prove costly in this one, but the lack of discipline will be a major factor in future contests as the Raiders march toward the AFC wildcard.
Daniel Carlson’s missed extra point
If Carlson’s missed extra point was the Raiders final undoing, he would never hear the end of it. Not for his entire career. That’s how Raider fans are. We don’t forget.
Lucky enough for him, this abysmal moment will be overlooked unless the problem persists. As the SEC’s all-time leading scorer, you’d expect Carlson to be clutch. With the Raiders finding themselves in multiple fight-to-the-finish style brawls this season, he’ll almost assuredly need to find that clutch gene to win them a ballgame at some point over the final seven weeks.
Inability to keep the defense off the field
When your defense comes out and plays this inspired, you have got to help them out. String together some long drives, establish the run, control the clock, anything to keep the boys on the less glamorous end fresh. The Raiders basically did the opposite for the entire first half, settling for a quick field goal after the first interception before consecutive three-and-outs.
Josh Jacobs had only 5 carries for 19 yards in the first half. After three quarters? Just 11 carries for 37 yards. Prior to the final 18-yard touchdown plunge, Jacobs had gone just 53 yards on 15 carries, with the offense unable to consistently move the ball on the ground for the first time in ages. Considering that the team’s ideal starting five up front was together all game for the first time all season, this was particularly perplexing.
Late in the game, the Raiders took Jacobs off the field to create mismatches between Jalen Richard and the Chargers linebackers. They should consider playing Jacobs and Richard on the field more together, as it could give them an added dimension and offensive multiplicity if they occasionally use Richard as a flanker.
- The Raiders will sneak into the AFC Wildcard as the 6-seed
- Josh Jacobs will win OROY
- Benson Mayowa will finish the season with over 10 sacks