The San Diego Chargers have made the fourth quarter their own little corner of Hell this season, and they did it to themselves again in Oakland against the Raiders. On their final drive of the game, on third and two at the Oakland 19, Melvin Gordon was stopped one yard shy of the sticks. On fourth down, with Josh Lambo on to attempt a 35-yard field goal to tie the game, holder Drew Kaser fumbled away a perfect snap to seal San Diego’s 34-31 loss to the Raiders.
In the first half, this looked like a game Oakland was looking to give away by underachieving. They dominated the Chargers statistically but only came away with three Sebastian Janikowski field goals to show for it.
The Raiders’ second drive lasted 16 plays and covered 87 yards but they hit a San Diego defensive wall with a first down at the three-yard line. One run and two incomplete passes later, head coach Jack Del Rio settled for the 3-0 lead instead of taking another shot at the end zone.
After failing to convert a Philip Rivers interception into points, Oakland drove 67 yards on 11 plays but failed after gaining a first-and-goal on the Chargers’ eight. Three plays — a pass, a run and a pass — went nowhere and Del Rio settled for closing the score to 7-6.
The Chargers extended their lead to 10-6 and, with two minutes left in the half, were ready to drive for more when Rivers overthrew Dontrelle Inman by 15 yards, with the ball coming down in the arms of Oakland safety Karl Joseph. The Raiders ran out of time at the San Diego 38 and settled for Janikowski’s third field goal to trail 10-9 at the half.
In the third quarter, it appeared that both defenses had remained in the locker room because the offenses exploded.
The Chargers opened by covering 75 yards in for plays, highlighted by a Hunter Henry 59-yard reception to take a 17-9 lead. Derek Carr answered by covering 75 yards in five plays, capped by a 64-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper to close the score to 17-16. Rivers called Carr and raised with the following drive, using only three plays to cover 75 yards and run San Diego’s lead to 24-16.
With four minutes left and trailing 24-19 in the third quarter, the Raiders finally found their short game. A fumble by Gordon gave Oakland the ball on the Chargers’ 38. On fourth and three at the Chargers’ 21, it appeared Del Rio had tired of the field goals. He kept Carr and the offense on the field. They converted when Carr hit Amari Cooper with a perfectly thrown pass for the touchdown and a 27-24 lead.
They drew the short field again for their next drive when, from San Diego’s 16, punter Drew Kaser shanked one that landed at their 32. The Raiders’ Jamize Olawale cashed in the opportunity with a one-yard touchdown plunge to extend Oakland’s lead to 34-24.
One more 75-yard drive by Rivers closed the Chargers to within three at 34-31, but the fumbled field goal snap, and a fumble on their final, desperation lateral play, finished San Diego’s chance to record its second victory of the season.
San Diego is now 1-4 and in last place in the AFC West. Counting today’s game, The Chargers have lost those four games by a total of 14 points. The have also already lost two games within their division and host the Denver Broncos next Sunday.
With the Broncos getting beat at home 23-16 by the Atlanta Falcons the Raiders are now tied for first in the AFC West. They get to host the Kansas City Chiefs, coming off their bye week, next Sunday.