It had all the makings of a classic Chargers loss that we've come to know so well: a missed field goal, questionable clock management, another missed field goal—all of the familiar missteps conspired yet again to do the Bolts in on Thursday night.
This time, though, luck was on their side.
Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns in another strong performance as the Chargers beat the Raiders, 30-27, in overtime on Thursday Night Football.
The Chargers were ahead for most of the way but were unable to maintain the lead after Raiders backup quarterback Marcus Mariota engineered a 19-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that took almost 11 minutes of game time. That tied the score at 24-24 with just over six minutes to play, which is exactly the time and score situation the Chargers typically wait for to initiate their death spiral sequence.
And for a while, everything went according to plan. Herbert drove the offense to the Raiders 28-yard line, where the drive stalled to set up a go-ahead field goal. Kicker Marcus Badgley missed wide left from 47 yards, giving the Raiders an opportunity to take the lead.
Instead, Las Vegas did its best Bolts impression. Mariota threw an interception in the red zone with under two minutes remaining, and a long return by Chris Harris set the Chargers up at the Raiders 33-yard line. Los Angeles burned a minute off the clock to set up a 51-yard attempt at redemption for Badgley. But predictably, tragically and it seems cosmically unavoidable, lightning struck again:
Usually, this is where the story concludes, with the Chargers sulking off the field after their opponent finishes the job. But on this night, the Raiders were not to be outdone. Las Vegas attempted a 65-yard field goal on the final play of regulation that never got off the ground as there were some, ahem, issues with the hold:
To overtime we went, and the Raiders nearly ended it with a touchdown on the opening possession but were instead forced to settle for a field goal to go up, 27-24. The Chargers answered by reaching the Las Vegas 2-yard line in three plays, but nearly gave the game away when Herbert fumbled attempting to score on a quarterback sneak. Los Angeles recovered in the end zone, but by rule only the fumbling player is allowed to advance the ball, so it was instead placed back at the original line of scrimmage.
One play later, Herbert sealed the deal by breaking the plane and sealing a wild win.
Dramatic wins are starting to become a habit for the Chargers, who beat the Falcons in walk-off style last week. Two straight close wins does not a clutch team make, but after years of falling just short time and time again, coming through in consecutive weeks must feel like hitting the lottery and finding the perfect parking spot all in one day.
As the great American poet Kevin Malone once said: It's just nice to win one.