The (7-6) Las Vegas Raiders entered Thursday Night Football with a 20% chance to make the postseason but after the overtime loss to the (4-9) Los Angeles Chargers that number is now 5%.
Raiders had some adversity coming into the “must win” game with a handful of key defensive players out for the newly promoted defensive coordinator Rob Marinelli. He was called upon for the interim job in addition to his defensive line coaching duties after Vegas fired their DC Paul Guenther on Sunday Night after the defense gave up 44 points in a losing effort to the Colts. On the offensive side of the ball, they were without their offensive coordinator Greg Olsen who prior to the game was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list along with star wide receiver Henry Ruggs III who was placed on it Tuesday.
The Silver & Black also found themselves without their quarterback Derek Carr who sustained a groin injury with just 2 minutes left to play in the 1st quarter. He limped out of bounds after scrambling to the right on a third-and-goal play from the Chargers’ 2-yard line. Carr was 3 for 5 for 53 yards before exiting the game.
Enter Marcus Mariota, the highest-paid backup quarterback in the league who was the No.2 overall draft pick from Oregon in the 2015 NFL Draft, a former Heisman Trophy winner. His last start was with the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 13, 2019 at Denver before ultimately being replaced by their current starter Ryan Tannehill. Mariota showed he still has a lot of talent and is a dual-threat quarterback with his speed for getting outside the pocket to pass or using his running ability. He finished 17-for-28 for 226 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. What really stood out in his performance was his 9 rushes for 88 yards and a touchdown. Jon Gruden did a fantastic job play calling for his backup who was thrusted into game with some designed runs. In the team’s first drive with Mariota at the helm the Raiders went 86-yards for a score where Marcus hit tight end Darren Waller for a 35-yard touchdown pass to give the Raiders the brief lead of 10-7 in the 2nd quarter. Mariota also led the Raiders to two more long scoring drives of 76 yards and 75 yards in the second half. Those drives were capped by a 1-yard plunge by running back Josh Jacobs and a 2-yard scramble by Marcus Mariota which following the extra point tied the score at 24-24 with 6:16 left in regulation. In overtime his last drive stopped with a pass deflection on third-and-goal which led to a field goal putting the Raiders up 27-24. It was then up to the defense to prevent the Chargers from scoring a field goal to tie or a touchdown to clinch the game.
The division rival Chargers who lost to the Raiders 26-31 in Week 9 came out on top in overtime despite a pair of missed field goals (51, 47) with 3:28 and :53 left in regulation. The last kick missed by Los Angeles kicker Michael Badgley gave the Raiders the ball with under a minute to play and no time outs. Las Vegas had a possible game winning kick opportunity as well in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter with Daniel Carlson who has a career long of 54-yards which he has done three times. The kick was to be an NFL record attempt of 65-yards, however place holder A.J. Cole bobbled the snap and was tackled in the backfield to send the game into overtime. The game itself was exciting with spectacular performances and it seems that play is doomed to be forgotten, though I must say it would’ve been interesting to see if he would’ve made that game-winning kick and set the record in Vegas at Allegiant Stadium.
Another NFL Draft first-round quarterback from Oregon stole the stage on Thursday Night Football, Chargers rookie Justin Herbert was electric in his game-winning performance. In overtime Herbert’s deep pass to wide receiver, Jalen Guyton for 53-yards set up the eventual touchdown lunge on a quarterback sneak to win the game. That pass to Guyton was the 8th pass of 50+ yards which leads the NFL this season. Herbert finished the game 22-for-32 for 314 yards and 2 touchdowns with zero interceptions. Amazing stat line given his favorite target wide receiver Keenan Allen did not play most of the game nursing an injury and finishing 1 reception for 17 yards. Justin also tied the NFL rookie record for touchdown passes in a season (27) which was set by Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield in 2018, there is still 2 games left to play. It looks like Los Angeles hit the jackpot with the rookie quarterback despite their now (5-9) record, the Raiders can expect to play against him twice a year for a very long time.
The (7-7) Raiders with their dwindling playoff hopes host the currently (8-5) Miami Dolphins who are also in the AFC Wild Card hunt on Saturday night 12/26
The (5-9) Chargers will host the currently (5-8) Denver Broncos on Sunday 12/27
Image: Raiders, The. Full Game Highlights – Raiders vs. Chargers – Week 15. 18 Dec. 2020, www.raiders.com/video/full-game-highlights-raiders-vs-chargers-week-15-2020.