Las Vegas Raiders Top Los Angeles Chargers 31 to 26

The Las Vegas Raiders (5-3) defeat the Los Angeles Chargers (2-6) 31 to 26 in a tight-knit showdown.

The Las Vegas Raiders returned to California for the first time since moving from Oakland and somehow escaped with a victory.

Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert threw what appeared to be a four-yard touchdown pass to third-string tight end Donald Parham Jr. on the last play of the game, but the call was overruled by replay. 

The Raiders pulled out a 31-26 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood.

Parham was defended tightly by cornerback Isaiah Johnson in the right corner of the end zone and came down with the football while having both feet in bounds. However, the replay showed he did not retain possession as the two players landed out of bounds.

“We went through a lot of adversity and in this league you’ve got to find a way to win,” Raiders Coach Jon Gruden said. “I give the Chargers a lot of credit. Every one of their games has come down to the final play.”

Parham was defended tightly by cornerback Isaiah Johnson in the right corner of the end zone and came down with the football while having both feet in bounds. However, the replay showed he did not retain possession as the two players landed out of bounds.

The Raiders (5-3), who began a three-game stretch against AFC rivals, again proved to be road warriors as they won for the fourth time in five games away from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas this season.

The Chargers (2-6) have suffered those six defeats by a total of 20 points, losing with one second remaining to the Denver Broncos last week.

Daniel Carlson’s 31-yard field goal with 4:37 left in the game gave Las Vegas the final points and a five-point lead. 

Then, what already had been a typical Raiders-Chargers dogfight became absolutely frenetic.

Herbert, the sixth player selected in the NFL Draft this year out of Oregon, drove the Chargers 71 yards downfield in 14 plays, hitting Mike Williams with a 16-yard passs to the four-yard line before spiking the ball with seven seconds left.

The Chargers had no timeouts left.

On the next play, Herbert tried to hit Williams in the end zone, but Johnson broke up the play. Williams was shaken up and had to leave the game, but fortunately for the Raiders, Johnson was around to make one more key play.

“They threw the fade twice in a row on Isaiah, and he made two great plays,” Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby said. “The second one looked like a touchdown. But we watched the replay.

“They showed one angle, and we couldn’t tell. Then they showed the other one, and we started going crazy, running all over the field, because we knew it was incomplete. It was a little too close, definitely nerve-wracking. But we got the win.”

Said Johnson, who was playing only because cornerback Trayvon Mullen left because of an injury earlier in the game: “Knowing that I haven’t had the opportunity to put that many snaps on film and they haven’t really seen me—it’s a rookie quarterback and he’s a great quarterback by the way, then you’ve got Mike Williams and their biggest tight end come and line up on me? Yeah, absolutely, within the red zone I (knew what was) coming.”

Herbert completed 28-of-42 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to rushing five times for 24 yards. However, after completing 9-of-10 passes on the last drive and 14 of his previous 15, he was 0-for-3—including the spike—at the finish.

Williams caught nine passes for 103 yards and a touchdown, while Kalen Ballage rushed for 69 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in his first game with the Chargers after signing a free-agent contract last month.

Derek Carr of the Raiders completed 13-of-23 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns, while also running twice for 14 yards, including a 12-yard scramble for a first down at the Los Angeles four-yard-line. The scramble set up his two-yard scoring pass to tight end Darren Waller that gave Las Vegas a 28-17 lead with 7:49 left in the third quarter.

“I love putting up big numbers and all that kind of stuff, but I’ve done those things,” Carr said. “Been to the Pro Bowl, it’s fun for people to pat your back but none of that stuff matters unless you win.

“Really proud of the guys who have stepped up, and really proud of our coaching staff for getting those guys ready.”

Devonte Booker led the Raiders with 68 yards on eight carries including a 23-yard touchdown run, while Josh Jacobs ran for 65 yards on 14 carries including a 14-yard score.

The Raiders rushed for 160 yards, and a 6.7-yard average, even without ailing starting tackles Trent Brown and Kolton Miller, with backups Sam Young and Brandon Parker picking up the slack.

Those touchdown runs came in the first half and it seemed the teams would head to halftime tied, 14-14, before Carr fumbled while trying to pass defensive tackle Jerry Tillery at the Raiders 27-yard-line.

The ball was recovered by the Chargers with eight second left in the half.

Michael Badgley, who has struggled this season and missed a 48-yard field goal attempt early in the game, kicked a 45-yarder with five seconds left in the half to give the Chargers a 17-14 lead at intermission.

“We get exactly what we wanted,” Carr said. “Darren Waller, I mean, he’s running wide open for a touchdown. I go to throw it to him, they knock it out of my hand. It’s like your heart just sinks. It just drops out of your chest.”

Said Gruden: “We wanted to try and get in long-range field goal position with Carlson. I don’t regret calling it. I do regret the result.”

However, Carr came back in the third quarter to throw a 45-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Nelson Agholor and the two-yarder to Waller as the Raiders built a 28-17 lead, but the Chargers weren’t done.

Badgley kicked a 29-yard field goal with 4:19 left in the third quarter and Herbert hit tight end Gabe Nabers for four-yard touchdown with 9:04 left in the game to make it 28-26.

However, Herbert was shaken up on the play and backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor tried to scramble for a two-point conversion to tie the score. He was stopped short by linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski with help from his teammates.

Kwiatkoski didn’t need too much help on this day, as he was in on 13 tackles, including 10 solo. Defensive back Lamarcus Joyner added 12 tackles, six solo, while linebacker Cory Littleton added eight total tackles, safety Johnathan Abram had seven, while Johnson and defensive end Maxx Crosby each made six.

Crosby and defensive end Carl Nassib had sacks, and as it turned out, the Raiders needed all of those stops to increase their lead in the all-time series to 66-54-2, including three in a row, in the rivalry that dates to the first season of the American Football League in 1960.

The Raiders return to Allegiant Stadium next Sunday to face the Broncos (3-5), another one of those original AFL teams.

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