Chargers Fall to Raiders

Face Kansas City in Mexico Monday Night

The Los Angeles Chargers will never make another trip to Oakland to play the Raiders. With the Raiders making the move to Las Vegas in 2020 to play in a new venue, the Chargers next road trip to play the Raiders will be in Las Vegas. Their final road trip to Oakland Thursday Night ended in frustration, with the Raiders holding on for a 26-24 victory over the Chargers.

The Chargers started off poorly and ended badly. In between, they played some pretty good football. But the beginning put the Chargers in a hole and in the end, injuries and the Raiders inspired defense shut the Chargers attack down. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw two first-quarter interceptions, one of which was returned by Raider safety Erik Harris for a touchdown and the other setting up a Raider field goal, to give the Raiders an early 10-0 lead.

The Chargers stormed back in the second quarter, with Rivers connecting with tight end Hunter Henry for a two-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 10-7. The Chargers took a 14-10 lead on a Melvin Gordon three-yard touchdown run. The Raiders came back with a 10 play, 76-yard drive to take the lead on a Derek Carr touchdown nine-yard touchdown pass to fullback Alec Ingold. This score gave the Raiders a 17-14 lead at halftime.

After trading third quarter field goals, the Chargers took the lead on a Rivers to Austin Ekeler six-yard touchdown pass with four minutes left in the game. That gave the Chargers a 24-20 lead. The Raiders came back with a score of their own, capping a 10 play, 75-yard drive with a Josh Jacobs 18-yard touchdown run. The extra point was no good. The Raiders led 26-24 with 1:02 left in the game, but the Chargers had all three timeouts left and only needed a field goal to win.

Starting at their own 25-yard line, the Chargers ran eight offensive plays. They failed to gain a single yard. Even though the Chargers had three timeouts, they kept throwing downfield instead of throwing short or running the ball. Rather than just trying to move the chains, Rivers kept looking for a big play downfield. The Chargers got a defensive holding penalty on fourth down, giving them an extra four downs to move into field goal range. They still failed to gain a yard. Rivers final attempt was intercepted.

This became the first time in 40 years that a quarterback had gone 0 for 7 or worse passing on the final drive of a game. As Rivers stated after the game: "You give a team 10 points at their place and then you have the ball with a chance to win at the end and you have eight snaps and go nowhere, it's going to be tough to win." Losing both starting offensive tackles early in the game did not help, either.

With the loss, the Chargers fell to 4-6 for the season. They play next on Monday Night Football against the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs in Mexico City. Kickoff will take place on Nov. 18 at 5:15 p.m. PT from Estadio Azteca (Aztec Stadium). This is considered by the NFL a "home game" for the Chargers. The Chiefs lost to the Tennessee Titans in Nashville on Sunday, falling to 6-4. The Chargers trail the Raiders (5-4) and Chiefs in the AFC West Division race.

The Chargers are at a point where they have no room for error. With six games left, they need to win every game to make the playoffs. With games at Kansas City, at Denver, at Jacksonville, plus home games against the Raiders and the Minnesota Vikings, this will not be easy task to accomplish. The Chargers are practicing this week in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in preparation for the altitude in Mexico City. The altitude in Mexico City is about 7,300 feet above sea level.

So, how do the Chargers turn this around this season? They need to stop turning the ball over. The Chargers have a -6 turnover ratio this season, which puts them in the bottom ten of the NFL in this category. All ten teams in the bottom of this category have losing records.

Against the Raiders, the Chargers had three turnovers, all interceptions. The Raiders had zero turnovers. That was the difference in the game. In 2016, the Chargers ended the season with a -6 turnover ratio and a 5-11 record. If the Chargers don't start creating turnovers on defense and eliminating turnovers on offense, this season will end up just like the 2016 season.

So, the last game in Oakland Alameda Coliseum for the Chargers, a place rich in history and tradition, ends up in another heartbreaking loss. Rivers reflected on the game and the memories afterward: "It was not the way you want to end your time coming here," he said. "It's one of the last-standing, one of the last few active old school NFL stadiums, kind of one of the originals. The atmosphere tonight was awesome."


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