Raiders Defeat Chargers
Final Home Game in Carson
December 26, 2019
It was just another home game in Carson. Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was discussing the impact of the fans and of the atmosphere after the game: "Everyone kept saying that last week was our last home, but it wasn't. Every time we come here it is a home game. We didn't use the silent count, they did. We didn't practice the silent count all week."
Carr was referring to the Raiders visit to Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson on Sunday, where the Raiders had just defeated the los Angeles Chargers, 24-17. The Chargers, playing in their final home game in Carson, were all too familiar with what went on Sunday afternoon. With an estimated 80% or more of the fans cheering for the Raiders, the Chargers had to go to a silent count on offense. That is typical on the road, but it should not be typical for home. What it does is sap the energy from the home team.
The Chargers were 11-11 in regular season games in their three seasons at their homefield in Carson. They were 3-7 in games decided by seven points or less. In 2020, the Chargers will be moving to their new stadium in Inglewood, the SoFi Stadium. They are hoping that their new stadium allows for them to have a homefield advantage. The loss dropped the Chargers to a record of 5-10, which does not help the Chargers in winning over the fickle Southern California fans.
The Raiders shutdown the Chargers running game that has struggled throughout the season. The Chargers are currently ranked 27th in rushing yards per game in the NFL. In this game, the Chargers ran for a paltry 19 yards on 16 carries. That is the 5th time this season that the Chargers have run for less than 40 yards in a game. They are 1-4 in those five games.
Charger head coach Anthony Lynn was brutally honest in his post-game assessment: "Well, they dictated the pace of this game. They outplayed us. We lost too many one-on-ones and critical situations. We have to run the football. I didn't think we were able to run the football, which surprised me. We averaged five yards-per-carry on this team the last time we played them. We have to run the football when they know that we are going to run the football, and we did not get that done."
The struggles in the run game led to a one-dimensional offensive attack. Out of the 56 offensive plays, 40 were passing plays. Playing from behind does not help, either. The Raiders scored on their first possession of the game to take an early 7-0 lead, with Carr connecting with wide receiver Hunter Renfrow for a 56-yard catch-and run for a touchdown.
The Chargers punted on their first five offensive possessions of the game. They finally scored on their sixth offensive possession of the game, with the help of a two of pass interference calls. Running back Melvin Gordon tied the game at 7-7 with a one-yard touchdown run with 1:54 left in the first half.
Unfortunately, the Raiders came right back in the last two minutes, driving 75 yards in 11 plays, with the drive culminating on a three-yard touchdown run by Carr with eight seconds left, taking a 14-7 lead into halftime.
The Raiders took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 75 yards in 13 plays, scoring on a five-yard run by running back DeAndre Washington, to give the Raiders a commanding 21-7 third quarter lead. The offensive drive by the Raiders drive took up almost nine minutes of the third quarter. The Chargers responded with an offensive drive of their own, going 83 yards in 10 plays to cut the lead to 21-14, on another short Gordon touchdown run, this for two yards.
In the fourth quarter, the two teams trade field goals as the Chargers could get no closer than seven points. Feeding off the energy of the partisan road crowd, the Raiders came in and took control of the game early. The victory moved the Raiders to a record of 7-8 and kept their playoff hopes alive. "To say that we're still playing Week 17 for something, that's unbelievable," Carr said. "That's really a good thing."
Carr had a very good game, completing 26 of 30 passes for 291 yards. Renfrow had seven catches for 107 yards, his first 100 yard receiving game in his football career, high school, college or NFL. Former Charger wide receiver Tyrell Williams had four reception for 82 yards. Williams a four-year, $44 million contract with the Raiders. His deep speed has been missed by the Chargers.
Rivers threw for 279 yards, completing 27 of 39 passes. Rivers is No.3 in passing yardage in the NFL with 4,334 yards through the air. He will attempt to add to that total in Kansas City in the season finale next Sunday. The game is scheduled to start at 10 AM PT, on December 29th. The Chargers need a win to build momentum for 2020 in their new stadium.