After an undefeated 3-0 start, the Raiders headed to their second home in Los Angeles for their first AFC West matchup of the season. After much anticipation by football fans everywhere, we had to wait even longer. A 40-minute weather delay sent the teams back into the locker room, proving challenging for the Raiders offense.
The Chargers offense dominated the first half. QB Justin Herbert marched his team down the field for a quick 7-0 lead. The Raiders offense answered with three consecutive three and outs. The Raiders defense and special teams, however, came to life after the Chargers first touchdown. Darius Philon racked up his first sack, and DT Solomon Thomas batted down a pass attempt.
On special teams, Hunter Renfrow had a massive pass breakup to stop the Chargers from converting on 4th down after a fake punt.
The Chargers went up 14-0 on a touchdown pass to former Raiders TE Jared Cook with just over 4:00 left in the first half. If the Raiders offense ever wanted to get going, this was the time to do so. They answered with another three and out. After keeping the Raiders in the game, the Las Vegas defense gave up a third touchdown with :30 left in the half. Raiders trailed 21-0 going into halftime.
“[Herbert] is a good quarterback,” head coach Jon Gruden said after the game. “They’ve got a heck of an offense. They’ve got a lot of weapons. And they’ve got a lot of different kinds of plays and he can execute them. He’s a special talent.”
“We cannot come out and take that many punches in the first round. I’m proud of our guys for showing a toughness to get up and keep fighting, but that was ridiculous tonight. They got on us and they got after us on all three phases, and we found a way to make it a football game and give ourselves a chance, but it’s just too hard in this league against good teams.”
The Raiders offense opened the second half with the football. Second half comebacks have been critical to the Raiders undefeated start. Their first drive of the half brought multiple first downs for the first time in the game. On 3rd and 8 inside the red zone, Carr completed his first touchdown pass to WR Hunter Renfrow.
After a big stop, the Raiders got the ball back. Carr and his offense seemed to have finally found their rhythm. Carr charged down the field and found TE Darren Waller in the endzone on 3rd and goal. Raiders were back in it. 21-14.
Daniel Carlson had a rare, missed field goal attempt from 53 yards with 10:30 on the clock in the fourth quarter, keeping the raiders down 21-14. The defense got back on the field to try and force a Chargers three-and-out, or even better, a turnover. Instead, they gave up another touchdown to put Las Vegas down 28-14. Carr got his offense back on the field to try and get the game back to a one-score game when Carr threw his first interception of the game, all but sealing the Raiders first loss of the season, no longer undefeated.
The Bottom Line
The Raiders offensive line has struggled the first quarter of the season. Rookie RT Alex Leatherwood and C Andre James have had multiple game-changing mistakes through four weeks. The Raiders have to address these mistakes, and soon.
Las Vegas has also had four consecutive slow starts on offense. The first half of games has proved to be challenging for the Raiders. Carr can’t find his receivers, and the offensive line can’t block to get the run game going. If this team wants to be a serious threat, they must play four quarters, not two.
Gus Bradley’s defense is everything Raider Nation dreamed it would be. Ranked 15th in the league, this defense is holding Vegas together. They have kept the Raiders in the game on multiple occasions and deserve all the praise after another remarkable showing.
Brandon Staley is the perfect head coach for Justin Herbert and the Chargers and I don’t see them slowing down any time soon. The AFC West is extremely competitive and division games may very well decide the AFC West champion. No matter how this game ended, the Raiders have work to do before playing them again in Week 17.
What to Know as Las Vegas Prepares for Chicago in Week 5
Raiders CB Trayvon Mullen exited the game after one drive on Monday Night. He was questionable to return with a foot injury before being downgraded to out early in the second half. RB Peyton Barber also exited the game with an injury in the first quarter but later returned in the third quarter.
Derek Carrier left the game with a pectoral injury in the second quarter. Later, Damon Arnette went down with a groin injury and was later ruled out. Casey Hayward, Nate Hobbs, and Amik Robertson finished the game at CB for Las Vegas. However, Nate Hobbs was later evaluated for a concussion inside the two-minute mark. What started as the Raiders healthiest game day roster this season quickly dwindled. On a short week, Raider Nation can only hope most of these players are back for Sunday’s matchup at home.
Week 5 brings an NFC challenge to Las Vegas. The Chicago Bears will visit Allegiant Stadium on Sunday at 1:05 pm. With the Raiders no longer undefeated, we’ll see how they respond to a struggling Bears team.
The Bears have started their rookie QB Justin Fields the previous two games due to Andy Dalton’s knee injury. Dalton was a game-time decision in Week 4, so he may return for Week 5. The Bears also lost their starting RB David Montgomery to a knee injury during their game versus Detroit in Week 4. As we prepare for Week 5, those injuries are worth keeping an eye on as they may prove to be game-changing, or at least game-plan changing.
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