Chargers pick off Raiders in win
INGLEWOOD, Calif. ( News4usonline) — Much like the rest of the NFL games played on the first weekend of the regular season, the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders played their SoFi Stadium matchup down to the wire. It would not be the Chargers and Raiders if the outcome of the game did not come down to the wire.
This game did not have any playoff implications like the Week 18 (35–32) overtime defeat the Chargers absorbed at the hands of the Raiders last season, but it had division and conference implications riding on it even though it’s just Week 1. That’s not to mention all the rivalry stuff that comes with the two teams playing one another.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) rushed for 36 yards on 14 carries against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sept. 11, 2022. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Chargers
The game would come down to the highly-recognized Chargers’ defense to the newly vaunted offense of the Raiders, with DeVante Adams being the star pupil of the Raiders. The Chargers defense won out, getting two sacks of Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr on the Raiders’ final drive late in the fourth quarter to preserve a 24–19 win.
“It’s just great to be able to go out there and finally play some football,” Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert said. “We’ve been itching for a few months now and going through preseason, not getting any reps there, you’re just excited to get back out to football and came away with a big win today, but it’s quickly moving onto the Chiefs on Thursday.”
Khalil Mack was having his way with the offensive line of the Raiders in the first half, coming up with two sacks of Carr, his former teammate, as the Chargers built a 14-point lead going into halftime. Mack finished the game with three sacks. On their way to their big lead, the Chargers held Carr and the Raiders to only three points through the first two quarters.
“That’s an excellent offensive football team,” Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said. “Defending them live, they have so many weapons and they have an experienced quarterback that has seen it all. They have a lot of different ways that they can play you. When you play against a team like that, you’re going to have to have a defensive group that’s a complete group, all three levels working together.”
Los Angeles Chargers defensive back Deane Leonard (33) in coverage against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sept. 11, 2022. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Chargers
Football is playing all four quarters. If the game was limited to only a half, the Chargers would have left at halftime as the winners. But since both teams have to play another two quarters, the dynamics of an NFL game can flip in a hurry. The Chargers and Raiders changed their course immediately after intermission once the Raiders got it going on their opening drive of the half.
The Raiders got back into the game with a long scoring drive to start the third quarter, but the Chargers have Herbert on the other side of the ball, and the third-year player went about his business as he normally does, throwing to a variety of wide receivers and running backs coming out of the backfield to help the Chargers keep the Raiders at bay.
It’s a good thing Herbert and the Chargers kept firing away because it was announced that wideout Keenan Allen was ruled out of the second half due to a hamstring injury. Without his best receiver on the field, Herbert had to spread the wealth by passing the ball, which he was already doing in the first half.
Allen left the game with four catches for 66 yards.
Allen’s departure didn’t seem to bother or affect Herbert and what the Chargers wanted to do. Defensively, with the Raiders picking up wide receiver DeVante Adams and offensive guru Josh McDaniels calling plays, the Chargers kept Las Vegas in check, at least through the first three quarters.
For all the hyperbole the Raiders offense generated this summer with the heralded pickup of Adams, it had been expected Las Vegas would have an unguardable scoring unit. The Chargers set the tone of the game on how they were going to play on the defensive end when safety Derwin James Jr. met Carr in the backfield with a sack of the Raiders’ quarterback on the first drive of the game by Las Vegas.
It was downhill for Carr since then. With the Chargers leading just 10–7, Carr threw an errant throw over the middle that would up in the hands of linebacker Drue Tranquill, which would to another touchdown by Los Angeles. The Chargers made Carr pay for his mistake by taking a 17–3 lead into the locker room.
The Chargers got in Carr’s head again early in the fourth quarter when the Las Vegas quarterback underthrew a wide-open Adams, who had outrun the coverage on what should have been an easy scoring toss. As it was, Asante Samuel Jr. came down with his first interception of the season a few yards shy of the goal line.
Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. (9) celebrates a defensive stop against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sept. 11, 2022. Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Chargers
Bryce Callahan gave the Chargers three interceptions on the afternoon when he picked off Carr in the fourth quarter to give the game an anti-climatic feel. However, Carr and the Raiders came back with one more score to provide the ending with some late-game theatrics.
Carr said the three passes that were intercepted by the Chargers were on him.
“We did too many good things, and I was way too aggressive,” said Carr. “We came in with an aggressive mindset, especially with all the weapons that we have. That’s on me, the decisions to be too aggressive in certain moments. To Davante Adams in the end zone, he beat his guy and the guy when I threw it, just fell off, and that kind of crap is going to happen sometimes. I could have made a better throw maybe, just be better there, but I think we showed signs of doing some stuff really well. It’s on me when I’m trying to be too aggressive and force it to tight end Darren Waller down the middle. Trying to bomb it to §AdamsJ, or just trying to jam it into him to get a couple of extra yards. I mean, just throw it away. That is the type of stuff I will learn from and just need be better for our team.”
Featured photo courtesy of Los Angeles Chargers