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Monday, April 15, 2024

Raiders end losing streak : Over dominant fashion over Chargers

SportsRaiders end losing streak : Over dominant fashion over Chargers

Final: Raiders 63, Chargers 21

Raiders end losing streak While the Raiders’ playoff hopes might be hanging on by a thread, they took their last three games of frustration out on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday Night Football.

The Raiders set a new franchise record with 63 points and forced five turnovers — two of them returned for scores — to roll over their division rivals in a game that was over by the end of the first quarter.

Las Vegas took a 21-0 lead after 15 minutes and never looked back.

Aidan O’Connell threw for 248 yards and four touchdowns, and Davante Adams had eight receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown — thrown by receiver Jakobi Meyers — to pace the Las Vegas offense.

The Raiders ran for 125 yards and two touchdowns despite not having star running back Josh Jacobs (quad) in the lineup.

Defensively, the Raiders got to Chargers quarterback Easton Stick early and often.

They sacked Stick three times, two from Malcolm Koonce, and he never looked comfortable especially given the Chargers didn’t have Keenan Allen in the lineup.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is out for the season after fracturing his finger on Sunday.

The Raiders improve to 6-8 and still have an outside chance to make the playoffs after snapping a three-game losing streak.

If there are victory cigars in the Raiders’ locker room, they will be had on this night.

Read below for updates on the game.

Raiders 63, Chargers 7 — 14:31 left, 4th quarter

Seventy is in reach, but the Raiders have a new franchise record for points in a game.

Jack Jones intercepted Easton Stick on a screen pass and returned it 15 yards to put the Raiders over 60 points for the first time in franchise history.

The Raiders’ previous record was 59 points set in October 2010 against the Denver Broncos — coached by former coach Josh McDaniels.

It was the fifth turnover forced by the Raiders of this game.

End of third quarter: Raiders 56, Chargers 7

Everyone is scoring touchdowns, including 330-pound defensive tackle John Jenkins.

Malcolm Koonce had his second strip sack of the game, and Jenkins ran the loose ball 44 yards the other way to put the Raiders over 50 points.

The franchise record is 59 set in 2010. The Raiders may hit 70 at this rate.

Raiders 49, Chargers 7 — 10:27 left, 3rd quarter

The Raiders scored again. Jakobi Meyers, former college quarterback, found Davante Adams for a 3-yard score for the seventh touchdown of the Raiders’ night.

But more notably, the Chargers not only crossed the 50 for the first time, but scored a touchdown on their first play of the second half with Easton Stick finding Joshua Palmer for a 79-yard touchdown to end the shutout bid.

Now, it’s a matter of finding out how much longer the Las Vegas starters stay in this game.

Halftime: Raiders 42, Chargers 0

Tre Tucker’s second touchdown of the half, a 20-yard pass from Aidan O’Connell capped off a historic first half for the Raiders, and Las Vegas took a 42-0 lead into the locker room at the end of the half.

The Raiders tied a franchise record for most points in a half, which was set Oct. 19, 1969 against O.J. Simpson and the Buffalo Bills. The Raiders went on to win 50-21.

More records might be broken if this keeps up. O’Connell threw four touchdowns in the half, and the Raiders outgained the Chargers 283-89.

Raiders 35, Chargers 0, 3:50 left in second quarter — Bolden scores on trick reverse

It’s getting so out of hand that Brandon Bolden is scoring touchdowns.

Known for being primarily used on special teams, Bolden took a Wildcat sweep to the left side and scored a 26-yard touchdown to put another touchdown on the board for the Raiders.

With that score, the Raiders set a new season-high in points and crossed the 30-point mark for the second time this season (30 in Week 9 against the New York Giants).

There’s still two-plus quarters to go.

Raiders 28, Chargers 0, 9:15 left in second quarter — Raiders score off another Chargers fumble

The Chargers have now fumbled three times in the first half and haven’t crossed the 50-yard line. Light work for the Raiders at this rate.

Aidan O’Connell threw his third touchdown pass of the half to Michael Mayer on an 11-yard score to give the Raiders a four-touchdown lead. It came moments after Chargers receiver Derius Davis fumbled during a punt return inside the Raiders’ 15-yard line.

The Raiders have outgained the Chargers169-60 in yardage.

Raiders 21, Chargers 0, 3:07 remaining in first quarter — An onslaught at Allegiant Stadium

Another fumble, another touchdown for the Raiders, and it’s not even 6 p.m. yet.

Chargers running back Joshua Kelley fumbled on the Chargers’ first play of their third drive with the Raiders recovering at the Los Angeles 31-yard line.

The Raiders needed only three plays to find the end zone, but it was another third down conversion with O’Connell finding receiver Jakobi Meyers down the right sideline for a 22-yard touchdown and what seems like an insurmountable lead for the Raiders.

Las Vegas has started the game 5-for-5 on third down.

Whatever didn’t go right on Sunday against Minnesota is going right on Thursday night.

Raiders 14, Chargers 0, 4:41 remaining in first quarter — Raiders capitalize on fumble, up two scores

It’s all Raiders through the first 10 minutes.

On the ensuing drive following the Raiders’ opening-drive score, it was the defense’s turn to make a play. Edge rusher Malcolm Koonce had a sack and forced a fumble on Chargers quarterback Easton Stick, with Tyree Wilson recovering at the Los Angeles 41-yard line.

After their fourth third-down conversion of the quarter — a 10-yard pass to Michael Mayer on 3rd and 8 — O’Connell found Tre Tucker on a deep post for a 30-yard touchdown to put the Raiders up two touchdowns in the first quarter.

The Chargers have no answer for the Raiders, and the Chargers might not even have an answer for themselves.

Raiders 7, Chargers 0, 8:04 remaining in first quarter — Raiders strike first, eclipse last week

On a drive that started with the Chargers called for fair catch interference, Aidan O’Connell led the Raiders on a 12-play, 68-yard drive capped off by a 1-yard score by Zamir White to get the Raiders on the board.

O’Connell and the offense converted three third downs on the drive, two of them on the ground from running back Ameer Abdullah. White and Abdullah are splitting carries with Josh Jacobs (quad) not playing.

It’s already a vast improvement for the Raiders after being held without a point in Sunday’s 3-0 loss to Minnesota, and it was due to a combination of O’Connell making good reads with his throws, and the running game getting into a rhythm without Jacobs.

With the Chargers going 3-and-out on their first drive, the Raiders have plenty to feel good about with this start.

Raiders down a trio of injured offensive starters

The Raiders are officially down three offensive starters for Thursday Night Football including two of their most vital contributors.

The Chargers are officially down three offensive starters for Thursday Night Football including two of their most vital contributors.

At least it should make a fair fight with both AFC West rivals significantly weakened.

There was nothing particularly surprising about the teams’ just-released inactives report, though it did confirm that Raiders running back Josh Jacobs would miss his first game in two seasons with a quad injury.

He joins a star-studded group containing Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert and receiver Keenan Allen as Pro-Bowlers who will miss the second meeting between the teams this season.

Los Angeles edged Las Vegas 24-17 in Week 4, and a big reason why was how thoroughly the former’s defensive line outplayed the latter’s offensive line.

Las Vegas’ offensive line is in much worse shape now with center Andre James (ankle) and left tackle Kolton Miller (shoulder) both out.

The Chargers’ third missing starter next to Herbert and Allen is tight end Donald Parham.

All the injuries have taken a lot of shine off the game, but the Chargers and Raiders have a tendency to play close, drama-filled games. Maybe this will be another one.

The Raiders’ other inactives next to Jacobs, James and Miller are quarterback Brian Hoyer (available in an emergency role), defensive end Malik Reed, defensive tackle Byron Young and defensive tackle Nesta Jade Silvera.

Pregame preview

Ever since the NFL introduced Thursday Night Football as a season-long venture in 2012, fan complaints have raged that the games have been lower-quality compared with their Sunday counterparts, when teams have a full week to prepare.

Those cries may hit a fever pitch this week. It’s hard to sell a matchup when the biggest thing at stake for the teams is avoiding falling into last place in the AFC West.

The quarterback showdown between the Las Vegas Raiders’ Aidan O’Connell and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Easton Stick isn’t exactly marquee material.

Not when the rookie O’Connell is coming off his worst game — a 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Vikings — since the first time he faced the Chargers in his Week 4 NFL debut and committed three turnovers in a 24-17 loss.

Perception is so low on the longtime backup Stick, meanwhile, that the point spread in this game shifted 6.5 points toward the Raiders after Chargers starter Justin Herbert broke his index finger last week.

Unlike the Raiders, the Chargers avoided a shutout in Week 14, but just barely, as the Denver Broncos throttled them 24-7.

Neither the Raiders nor the Chargers are technically eliminated from playoff contention, but it would take a miracle including winning each of their last four games to make it there.

Favorable matchup: Raiders’ defensive line vs. Chargers’ offensive line

Largely lost in the dreadful offensive performance of last week’s scoreless performance is the optimism that should be surging over the Raiders’ defense.

It played extremely well in holding Minnesota to no points until the final two minutes, and it all started up front. Despite continuing to be limited by a knee injury and infection, edge rusher Maxx Crosby was his usual game-changing self with a pair of sacks and three tackles for loss.

But he also got a lot more help around him. Opposite-side starter Malcolm Koonce was consistently disruptive. Previous practice-squad player Janarius Robinson had a sack.

And most importantly, first-round draft pick Tyree Wilson finally showed sustained flashes of his potential with a sack and a tackle for loss.

Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham lined Wilson up some in the interior of the line, and attacking from different spots seemed to harness the rookie’s freakish athletic ability.

And this all came against one of the best offensive lines in football, as the Vikings have a star-studded and accomplished unit. The Chargers do not, as their offensive line rates 24th in the league by Pro Football Focus.

The Raiders could wreck the unit if they play with the same energy as they did against the Vikings.

Many fans predicted the Raiders controversially trading Mack in 2018 two years after he won the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award would come back to haunt them. Their worst fears have been realized.

The now-veteran edge rusher has destroyed the Raiders in five games as an opponent, including most notably earlier this season when he tied the record for second-most sacks ever in a game with six.

Largely because of that performance, the 32-year-old Mack leads the NFL with 15 sacks on the year. Mack had his way with all three of the Raiders’ primary tackles in the first meeting this season — Kolton Miller, Jermaine Eluemunor and Thayer Munford.

To make matters worse this time around, Miller will miss his fourth game this season with a shoulder injury.

The Raiders started Munford at left tackle in place of Miller against the Vikings after having put Eluemunor there in the first two games the team captain missed.

Mack primarily lines up on that side of that line, so it will be interesting to see who the Raiders assign as his main blocker this time. Eluemunor is the better pass-blocker but has a particularly troublesome history matching up with Mack.

Gamebreaker: Running back Zamir White

Gauging the development of young players should be one of the focuses of the last four games, and the Raiders should have a great chance to do that with their backup running back against the Chargers.

Las Vegas drafted the former Georgia star in 2022 with intentions to use him much more frequently, but it hasn’t happened to this point for a variety of reasons.

Josh Jacobs’ ascent to being one of the best and most durable running backs in the NFL leads the list.

Jacobs hasn’t missed a game since White has been in the league, but that’s at risk against the Chargers after he limped off the field with a quad injury late in the loss to the Vikings.

Even if Jacobs toughs it out and plays, he won’t be at 100% and White should rotate in more frequently.

The 24-year-old White has lacked explosion in his abbreviated workload through two seasons, with only 37 carries for 124 yards, but the Raiders’ biggest concerns with him are in the passing game.

Jacobs is a terrific pass protector for a running back and has also grown into more of a receiving threat. White needs to show progress in both aspects to secure a role with the Raiders going forward.

Big Number: 83

Both the Raiders’ AJ Cole and the Chargers’ JK Scott registered 83-yard punts last week. They were both franchise records, tied for the longest punts of the season in the NFL and sit fourth-longest overall in the past 30 years.

Both Las Vegas and Los Angeles therefore feel confident in their ability to flip the field in what could be another low-scoring game where field position plays a large role in determining which team comes out on top.

The Raiders nearly downed Cole’s 83-yard punt inside the 1-yard line, but it rolled into the end zone for a touchback. Many marveled at the power to boot such a long punt, but Raiders interim coach Antonio Pierce wasn’t all that thrilled about it.

When asked about Cole this week, Pierce praised his punter but expressed some concern about outkicking the coverage. Cole’s next punt after the record-setter traveled 60 yards and the Vikings’ Brandon Powell picked up 25 yards on the return.

Best Bet (10-3): Easton Stick over 0.5 touchdown passes

Boyd Sports has this priced at -160 (i.e. risking $160 to win $100) odds, which is far too low if Stick can even be halfway competent. The betting market is clearly bearish on the fourth-year backup, but how can anyone be so sure he’s awful?

He was one of the best quarterbacks in Football Championship Subdivision history at North Dakota State, where he won three national championships in four years as a starter before the Chargers selected him in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

He hasn’t been asked to do a lot professionally in games — completing 14 of 25 passes for 179 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions — but must have done something right to earn a second contract with the Chargers, who signed him to a one-year extension this offseason.

Don’t expect another 3-0 game. Both teams should find the end zone, and Stick will have plenty of chances for his first career touchdown pass.

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