Isaac Brekken/Associated Press
The Los Angeles Chargers won back-to-back games for the first time this season, taking down the Las Vegas Raiders 30-27 in overtime on Thursday night at Allegiant Stadium.
A 53-yard pass from Justin Herbert to Jalen Guyton set the Chargers up with a 1st-and-goal at the Raiders’ 2-yard line.
Herbert attempted to punch it in on second down but fumbled before crossing the goal line. While the Chargers recovered, they couldn’t advance the ball inside the final two minutes. They ran another quarterback keeper, with Herbert breaking the plane on the second go-round.
The result carries big implications for the Raiders, who entered Week 15 one game off the Miami Dolphins for the final wild-card spot in the AFC.
Derek Carr’s night ended early as he suffered a groin injury on the Raiders’ second drive of the first quarter. Las Vegas initially said he was questionable to return, and Marcus Mariota finished out the game under center. He provided a big spark to the offense, and a quarterback battle might be brewing in Sin City.
The sixth-year veteran tied the game at 24 with a two-yard touchdown run at the 6:16 mark of the fourth quarter.
Michael Badgley missed a 47-yard field goal on Los Angeles’ next possession, leaving 3:38 on the clock for the Raiders to get the go-ahead score. Las Vegas got to the Chargers’ 21-yard line before Mariota threw the ball behind Zay Jones and into the arms of Chris Harris Jr.
[email protected] snags his first INT with the @Chargers and returns it 52 yards!
LAC takes over at the LV 32-yard line. #BoltUp
📺: #LACvsLV on NFLN/FOX/PRIME VIDEO
📱: https://t.co/W5bCPYgMfo https://t.co/QBURR6nSAf
The spotlight was back on Bagley as he lined up a 51-yarder, and his attempt once again hooked to the left. The Chargers didn’t need to put the game on his shoulders again in overtime.
Justin Herbert, QB, Chargers: 22-of-32, 314 yards, two touchdowns; four carries, 14 yards, one touchdown
Austin Ekeler, RB, Chargers: 13 carries, 60 yards; four receptions, 19 yards
Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers: five receptions, 65 yards, one touchdown
Marcus Mariota, QB, Raiders: 17-of-28, 226 yards, one touchdown, one interception; nine carries, 88 yards, one touchdown
Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders: 26 carries, 76 yards, one touchdown; three receptions, 38 yards
Darren Waller, TE, Raiders: nine receptions, 150 yards, one touchdown
Raiders Hardly Miss a Beat with Mariota
Field Yates of ESPN explained how Carr’s injury impacted Mariota’s earnings since he had to run the offense:
Despite having not played since the 2019 season, the 27-year-old looked excellent. He was efficient in the pocket and provided a different dimension from Carr thanks to his mobility.
You don’t want to overreact to one result, and the Raiders only have two more games left in the season. A quarterback change now can only do so much. Perhaps head coach Jon Gruden might consider giving Mariota an extended look with an eye toward 2021, though.
The offseason addition of Mariota was meant to apply some pressure to Carr and provide a capable backup in the event the three-time Pro Bowler got hurt. Much in the same way Ryan Tannehill eventually supplanted Mariota for the Tennessee Titans, he could be doing the same to Carr.
Herbert Turns Chargers Offense into One-Man Show
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported before the game that Mike Williams and Keenan Allen would both play for the Chargers but be on a “rep count.”
You’d expect a quarterback to struggle when his top two receivers are limited by injuries. That wasn’t the case Thursday night as Herbert torched the Raiders secondary.
The situation reached the point where some were lamenting when the Chargers had the temerity to run the ball or simply take it out of Herbert’s hands:
Anthony Lynn’s clock management has been the subject of scrutiny all season, and he could find himself on the hot seat depending on how Los Angeles finishes out the year. Chalk up the play-calling against the Raiders as more ammunition for critics to argue why the franchise would be better off making a coaching change.
This game wasn’t particularly notable for Los Angeles, yet it served as a perfect encapsulation of the team’s 2020. Odd strategic decisions and special teams snafus nearly combined to nullify a good performance by Herbert.
The Raiders have a Saturday night prime-time clash with the Dolphins on Dec. 26 at 8:15 p.m. ET. The Chargers host the Denver Broncos on Dec. 27 at 4:05 p.m. ET.