The crowd was pro-Raiders. The result was pro-Chargers. In their first game in L.A. since 1994 the Raiders lost 30-10 to the Chargers at the StubHub Center in Carson.
It was not the return to Los Angeles the Silver & Black were hoping for but they can take some small solace in the knowledge that even though they lost, their long-time rivals didn’t get into the playoffs. The Titans beat the Jaguars in Nashville to knock the Bolts out of post-season contention.
The largest crowd of the season (by about 100) was ridiculously one-sided rooting for the Raider Nation. After a scoreless 1st quarter things got wacky. Running back Melvin Gordon fumbled and the ball popped right into the hands of wide receiver Keenan Allen, who ran it 27 yards to the end zone and a 7-0 lead.
The Raiders tied it just a few plays later when, on 3rd and 22, quarterback Derek Carr hit a wide open Amari Cooper down the middle of the field for an 87-yard TD. Then the Chargers season-long kicking game woes continued to haunt them.
Nick Rose, who replaced Travis Coons, who replaced Nick Novak, who replaced Younghoe Koo, who replaced Josh Lambo, tried a 50-yarder and it took off so low it hit a Raiders defender in the facemask. Oakland got a 40-yard FG from Giorgio Tavecchio to take a 10-7 lead that did not last long.
About two minutes later the Raiders had a defensive breakdown of their own and Philip Rivers hit wideout Tyrell Williams, who didn’t have a defender within 15 yards of him, for a 56-yard score and a 14-10 lead they never game up. The Bolts padded the lead just before halftime on a mistake by the Raiders.
Carr floated one towards Cooper but safety Tre Boston was able to run underneath it for an interception. Rivers then led a 77-yard touchdown drive that only took 1:24 off the clock, finding Allen in the corner of the end zone for a 6-yard TD. The lead was 20-10 at the break because, not surprisingly, the extra point was blocked.
The 2nd half started with the Chargers driving to the Oakland 7 yard line and Rose finally got one past the line of scrimmage, hitting a 25-yard field goal for a 23-10 lead. The Raiders turned it over on downs and then Rivers put it out of reach with a beautiful 62-yard touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin to make it 30-10.
This was also very likely the final game in the Hall of Fame career of Antonio Gates, whose contract is up but will likely retire after 15 NFL seasons as the league’s all-time leader in touchdown catches by a tight end.
The Chargers finish with a 9-7 record while the Raiders fall to 6-10.