It was a new week, but it was not a new outcome for the Bolts as they dropped their ninth-straight AFC matchup to the Raiders 31-26 on Sunday evening.
For the seventh time in eight games this season, the final score of the Chargers’ game was within a single touchdown. For the second-straight week, in another division game, it also came down to the very last play of regulation.
Unfortunately, they were on the wrong end of the scoreboard, once again.
Both teams started the game with a punt on their opening drives before the Chargers got the first opportunity to put points on the board. Unfortunately, Michael Badgley missed his first attempt from 48 yards wide right to keep the game at zeros.
On the ensuing Raiders drive, the Los Angeles special teams continued to struggle, allowing Las Vegas to start at their 38-yard line. The offense then went 62 yards in seven plays before former Broncos running back Devontae Booker took a handoff up the right sideline for a 23-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead.
The Chargers were able to respond with a 13-play, 81-yard drive that was capped off by a five-yard rushing touchdown by recently-signed Kalen Ballage.
Punts were traded once more before the Raiders capitalized on another good starting spot after a 13-yard punt return put Las Vegas into Chargers territory. Five plays into the drive, Josh Jacobs took a handoff off the right side, stiff-armed a defender, and leapt his way inside the pylon for the 14-yard score.
The score was soon knotted once again at 14-14 thanks to a Keenan Allen touchdown catch from 27 yards out. Somehow the Slayer got wide open over the middle of the defense and Herbert found him for his fourth touchdown of the season.
Just when it looked like the Raiders would just kneel the first half away with 19 seconds left, Jon Gruden called a pair of pass plays, the second of which turned into a strip sack by Jerry Tillery that he recovered himself. The Chargers were able to turn around and kick a field goal to take a 17-14 lead heading into halftime.
Like previous games, the Bolts defense came out flat to begin the third quarter, except this time they didn’t have a comfortable two-score lead to make it hurt any less.
It took the Raiders just four plays to go 55 yards — following a great kickoff return by Las Vegas — before Derek Carr found Nelson Agholor streaking up the left sideline for the go-ahead 45-yard touchdown. After the Chargers went three-and-out on their next drive, the Raiders took the ball right back down the field and scored thanks to a Carr-to-Darren Waller connection in the back of the end zone.
With the score all of a sudden 28-17, the Bolts needed to respond fast and put together some stops. With 4:29 left in the third quarter, Michael Badgley hit on his second field goal of the day to bring things within a score at 28-20. After forcing a Raiders punt to begin the fourth quarter, Herbert orchestrated the offense to a 12-play, 82-yard touchdown drive, culminated by fullback Gabe Nabers’ second score in as many weeks. Herbert was walloped on the play by defensive end Maxx Crosby which forced him to miss a play as Tyrod Taylor came on to attempt the two-point conversion. The play was sniffed out from the jump and Taylor somehow still managed to almost scramble for the conversion. He came up short, however, and the score stayed 28-26.
After forcing a crucial three-and-out, rookie wideout K.J. Hill muffed the punt return and the Raiders recovered the loose ball at the Chargers’ 31-yard line. With their backs up against the wall, the defense stood stout and forced Las Vegas to kick a field goal. Daniel Carlson hit it through the uprights and the Raiders were up 31-26.
With all the pressure in the world, Herbert did what he’s always come to do. He took what the defense gave him and came through on money downs to extend the drive, including giving up his own body at times.
The Bolts went 13 plays on the potential game-winning drive. With 19 seconds left, Herbert hit Mike Williams near the right sideline but the refs ruled he was tackled in bounds so the offense had to scramble to get set and clock it. When the ball hit the dirt, six seconds remained.
With only enough time for two plays, the Chargers went to the goal-line fade both times. The first was to Williams who caught the ball with his fingertips but couldn’t hold on as he hit the ground. The second went to tight end Donald Parham who was isolated with one-on-one coverage once again on the right side. In excruciating fashion, Parham caught the pass for the would-be game-winner, but the ball bounced loose for just long enough to be deemed incomplete following a booth review of the play.
When it was all said and done, the Chargers fell 31-26 to the Raiders.
Herbert finished completing 28 of his 42 pass attempts for 326 yards and two scores with zero interceptions. Kalen Ballage finished with a team-high 69 rushing yards and a touchdown to go with 15 yards on a pair of receptions. Allen went over the 100-yard mark with 103 on nine catches.
Rayshawn Jenkins led the team with six tackles against Las Vegas while Tillery had the defense’s only sack of the evening.
L.A. drops to 2-6 on the season — 0-3 in the AFC West — with a matchup against the 5-3 Dolphins next Sunday. The Raiders improved to 5-3 with a 2-0 record in the division.