By Dave Thomas
There’s not anything quite like beating your arch rival with a last-second field goal, especially when it is on their turf.
Los Angeles (2-4) accomplished that feat Sunday afternoon with a 17-16 win in Oakland. The loss sent the Raiders to their fourth straight defeat of the season.
Chargers Back In AFC West Race
After beginning the season at 0-4, the Bolts have won two straight, allowing them to move into a tie for last place in the AFC West with the aforementioned Raiders. With fellow division rival Denver (3-2) coming to town next Sunday, the Chargers have a chance to get themselves back in the AFC West race, especially with Kansas City losing on Sunday to Pittsburgh, leaving them as the last unbeaten team to go down.
In a contest where neither offense really stood out, the Chargers were able to put together the game’s final drive, winning it on kicker Nick Novak’s 32-year-field goal.
After taking a 16-14 lead on Cordarrelle Patterson’s fourth quarter touchdown run, the Raiders came up short on the extra point attempt. A high snap meant kicker Giorgio Tavecchio’s kick would sail wide left. That miss left Oakland with a precarious two-point cushion.
In the end, the missed PAT would, in fact, be the difference.
On a day where quarterback Philip Rivers had good numbers and Oakland’s Derek Carr was average at best, it was the defenses that took top billing. Rivers threw for one TD and finished 25-of-36 for 268 yards. Meanwhile, running back Melvin Gordon picked up 83 yards and one score on the ground. Los Angeles continues to play with fire by not having a dominant running game. On this day, the Chargers had just enough offense overall to eek out the win. Gordon had a big day receiving, catching nine balls for 67 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Hunter Henry, the heir apparent to future Hall-of-Famer Antonio Gates, caught five passes for 90 yards.
With the array of weapons Oakland has on the offensive side of the ball, holding the Raiders to 16 points is a good day’s work. Leading the way for the Bolts was Hayes Pullard III (10 total tackles), with Korey Toomer and Tre Boston adding five solo tackles. Although this was Carr’s first game returning from a back injury two weeks ago in Denver, Oakland was unable to take advantage of a Los Angeles team which had given up 20 or more points in five games to date this season.
Special Teams: B-
For Los Angeles, Novak was one-of-two on field goals, while hitting both extra point attempts. While Novak did hit the game-winner, punter Drew Kaser turned in a good performance on his four punts, ending with a 55.8 ypp (yards per punt) average.
As rookie head coach Anthony Lynn is discovering, life in the NFL can be quite fickle at times. After four losses to begin the season, Lynn’s troops have obviously had a different taste in their mouths the last two weeks. Although no one is likely to push the Chargers to the front of the AFC West by the end of the season, Lynn and his troops definitely have more confidence under their belts heading into a home meeting with Denver next Sunday. Lynn seems to be making the right calls at the right time, especially when it comes to clock management as of late.
Up Next: Los Angeles hosts Denver next Sunday before finishing off the month in New England the last Sunday of October. If the Chargers can get a third straight win under their belts, going into New England would feel all the more better. As with the Raiders, the Chargers have a long history with the Broncos. Denver leads the all-time series 65-50-1, having won the season opener between the two teams in Denver, 24-21.