OAKLAND, Calif. — For the second time in five days, the Raiders needed a late touchdown and a late defensive stop to win at home. And for the second time in five days, safety Karl Joseph made a critical play — this time intercepting a fourth-down pass to help seal the Raiders’ 26-24 victory over the Chargers on “Thursday Night Football.”
After running back Josh Jacobs took in an 18-yard, go-ahead touchdown with 1:02 left, kicker Daniel Carlson missed the extra point. Starting with the ball at their own 25, armed with three timeouts and receiving the benefit of a defensive holding penalty, quarterback Philip Rivers did not complete a pass on the Chargers’ final drive before Joseph intercepted a deep ball on fourth and 10 from the L.A. 30 with 27 seconds left.
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Raiders quarterback Derek Carr described the game as an “old-fashioned, AFC West bloodbath” — one where both defenses seemed to have the upper hand for much of the contest.
That started with Raiders safety Erik Harris, who ended the Chargers’ first two possessions with interceptions — taking the second back for a pick six to give the Raiders a 10-0 lead.
But the game went back and forth throughout, with four lead changes until the final whistle. With 4:02 left in the fourth quarter, Rivers connected with running back Austin Ekeler for a 6-yard touchdown to give Los Angeles a 24-20 lead.
Carr said he noticed a look of resolve in the eyes of his teammates on the sideline after that score, and that came through as the offense went methodically down the field on a 10-play, 75-yard drive ending in Jacobs’ seventh touchdown of the season.
With the win, the Raiders are 5-4 and have placed themselves firmly in the hunt for a postseason spot.
Here are three takeaways from the victory.
1. Getting the needed stop
Over their last two games, the Raiders have received critical stops from their defense.
Each time, Joseph made the game-saving play.
Linebacker Tahir Whitehead said it is significant for the defense to make those plays to keep the team balanced.
“We can’t always depend on the offense to go out there and do their thing. It’s a team sport,” Whitehead said.
The defense was able to keep Rivers uncomfortable throughout the entire game with five sacks and 10 QB hits, but Carr was especially impressed with the unit’s late-game performance.
“That guy is one of the best to play the game,” he said of Rivers. “And for our defense to step up and play the way that they did was fantastic.”
2. Jacobs continues to be clutch
Jacobs finished with more than 100 yards from scrimmage for the fifth time in six games, with 16 carries for 71 yards and three receptions for 30 yards.
And while the Chargers’ defense had a good amount of success against the rookie back, the ball was in Jacobs’ hands at the game’s most crucial point. And Jacobs did exactly what he needed to do on third and 1 from the 18, breaking an arm tackle en route to a touchdown.
Jacobs said center Rodney Hudson and left guard Richie Incognito made perfect blocks to spring him.
“I just had to split the defenders, and the rest was history,” Jacobs said.
3. Time to talk playoffs?
At 5-4, the Raiders are in the hunt, given that they’ll face the winless Bengals and the 1-7 Jets over the next two weeks.
And Joesph wasn’t shying away from the “P” word when asked what the team’s goals are going forward.
“Playoffs — playoffs and beyond, that’s it,” Joseph said. “I think we had a meeting a few weeks ago (and determined) our expectations are playoffs — nothing less than that.”
Coach Jon Gruden, however, had a different kind of answer.
“We have a long season left to play,” Gruden said. “I’m a little worried about the Bengals tomorrow, but I’m going to go home tonight and enjoy this one.”