INGLEWOOD – Just when the Raiders showed life late in the fourth quarter trailing by five points, Khalil Mack put things on pause with a fourth down sack on the first play after the two-minute warning to secure the Chargers' 24-19 victory over Las Vegas.
Mack, making his Chargers debut after the team pulled off a blockbuster deal back in March to bring him to Los Angeles, put together a stellar performance in the first game with his new team.
Mack recorded three sacks with his final one coming in the biggest moment of the game. He also recorded four quarterback hits, six tackles, three tackles for loss and one forced fumble. Needless to say, he was about as disruptive as it gets. It wasn't a fair fight with Mack rushing against Raiders right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor.
"It's big," Mack said in the locker room after the Chargers Week 1 win. "But understanding that's just the tip of the iceberg. First game of the year, everybody is still getting their feet wet."
Mack said on Friday ahead of the matchup that facing the Raiders isn't the hyped up revenge game type of feel that surrounded him back in 2019 when he played them for the first time following his departure from Oakland.
Due to the Raiders doing some house cleaning in recent years, not having many of the same players and coaches from when he spent his time there, it’s created a different feel. But, nonetheless, Mack still showed immense gratitude for the Raiders organization following their matchup Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
"Understanding what the organization did for me and my family, drafting me in the first round," Mack said. "It'll always be a special thing going against them."
In addition to Mack's big day, the Chargers also recorded three other sacks with Derwin James, Joey Bosa and Morgan Fox getting in on the action and tackling Raiders quarterback Derek Carr to the turf.
"I just know we did pretty solid in all phases of the game: the pass game, the run game," Mack said. "We did solid. Could we get better? Yes."
The Chargers' pass rush helped the coverage guys on the back end, and vise-versa. It was a complete defensive performance, as Carr not only was under pressure quite often, but the players in coverage also did their part, coming down with three interceptions.
“I saw 11 guys that believe that they were going to close it, and they played like it today," Staley said of his defense. "I think, as a coach, that’s what you’re looking for, that they have that look in their eye, that confidence in one another that what we call, we’re going to go execute and bring us home. What I thought you saw in two minutes there was our rush and our coverage playing together to bring us home.”
Offensively, the Chargers found their rhythm with a bunch of newcomers. Quarterback Justin Herbert tossed three touchdowns – all to new players of the team, featuring fullback Zander Horvath, wide receiver DeAndre Carter and tight end Gerald Everett.
Herbert posted an efficient season opener, completing 26 of 34 passes for 279 yards and three scores. After not taking a snap throughout the preseason, Herbert got to work fairly quickly, not showing signs of rust early on.
“Poise, composure, play-making, leadership, toughness, all the quarterbacking stuff that you need in a tight game," Staley said of his quarterback after the team's divisional win. "I think a lot of the little things that, to the casual fan, they may not notice, but being strong with the ball in the pocket when you’re playing against a rush like that. Being able to make plays with your feet.
"That red area third down that he made, and then had the slide, making some plays with his feet to create some space for the receivers. You know that when you play against a team like that, that you are going to have to use your legs. I thought that he did a nice job of that today.”
Wide receiver Keenan Allen left the game with a hamstring injury in the second quarter. He said after the game that he can "possibly" be ready for the Chargers' Week 2 game, set to take place in four days.
The Chargers advance to 1-0 and will take on a short week in the days ahead, traveling to Kansas City for Thursday Night Football where they'll see another AFC West rival in the Chiefs.
"It starts now and getting your body back," Herbert said on what kind of preparation goes into the week when playing on Thursday night. "We’ll have practice tomorrow, Tuesday, and just keep watching film and getting a good feel for the Chiefs. It’s a quick turnaround, but a great opportunity to go play football.”
The Chargers defense missed cornerback J.C. Jackson as he works his way back from ankle surgery. However, there is optimism that he can be ready in time for the Week 2 matchup.
"He worked out this morning pregame. He looks good," Staley said of Jackson. "He’s still day-to-day, but we’re excited. Trending positive. We’ll see for Thursday. I think that it’s a higher percentage than it was today. Could [he] have played today? Maybe."
The Chargers had a difficult time slowing down Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams without Jackson patrolling the boundary. Adams, regarded as one of the best pass catchers in the league, showed just how difficult he is to defend, logging 10 catches for 141 yards and one touchdown.
When Jackson makes his return, the Chargers will consider having him shadow opposing team's No. 1 wide receivers.
More from Charger Report
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- Pregame Report: Chargers vs. Raiders Week 1
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- Chargers vs. Raiders Week 1: Game Prediction
Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.