CARSON, CA (News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Chargers were done in last week by seven turnovers in their next to last home game to be played at Health Dignity Sports Park. As a result, the Chargers suffered a double-digit home defeat to the Vikings. The culprit for the Chargers Sunday afternoon against the Oakland Raiders was once again the man in the mirror.
There were no glaring miscues to speak about. But the Chargers’ ineptitude to consistently move the chains against their longtime AFC West Divisional rivals by running the football, didn’t give Anthony Lynn and his team a remote opportunity to make the Raiders bend to their will. Instead, the Raiders got the offense of the Chargers to conform and yield to Oakland’s defense.
The Chargers produced a total of 19 yards on 16 carries against Oakland in a 24-17 loss to the Raiders. Chargers running back Melvin Gordon produced two touchdowns against the Raiders, but he accounted for only 15 yards rushing on nine carries.
It gets worse for Gordon’s backup Austin Ekeler. Ekeler carried the ball four times for 11 yards.
“It was a tough day running the ball,” Ekeler said. “They were getting in the right calls, slants, beating us one-on-one or our backs weren’t seeing it right. I’m not sure yet, I have to go watch the film. For whatever reason, we were getting stuffed or even losing yards. It’s hard to get your offense going when they make you one-dimensional because then they know what you are going to do and they can play you for it.”
The Chargers’ inability to move the football on the ground did not make Lynn a happy man.
“Well, they dictated the pace of this game,” Lynn said. “They outplayed us. We lost too many one-on-ones and critical situations. We have to run the football. I didn’t think we were able to run the football, which surprised me. We averaged five yards-per-carry on this team the last time we played them. We have to run the football when they know that we are going to run the football, and we did not get that done. The outcome is what it is, but I thought this team played hard, we just didn’t play good enough.”
With that said, The end run for the Chargers to play their home games at Health Dignity Sports Park is over. Beginning in 2020, the Chargers will shift their home field status to SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. With that said, a change could be what the Chargers need after missing the playoffs this season.
“I’m definitely looking forward to playing in the new stadium,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. “It’s a new venue. I think anyone who plays there is probably going to be looking forward to it. We were here for three years. I can’t say whether it was good or bad, it’s just what we have to deal with. I’m here to play football. Wherever you tell me, that’s where I’m going to play.”
Going into their final home game of the 2019 season against the Raiders, the Chargers had not defeated an AFC West Division opponent all season. The Chargers were 0-4 against divisional opponents this season before their Sunday afternoon matchup against the Raiders, including absorbing a stingy 26-24 road loss to Oakland that snapped a four-game win streak Los Angeles was enjoying at that time.
Fast forward to Week 16 of the NFL season. The Chargers have long been officially out of the hunt for a playoff spot. Recording just a single victory in their last five games before their meet up in Carson, both teams have struggled this season. Both teams have also fallen well below the expectations they entered the season with. However, mathematically, the Raiders are still alive for a postseason berth.
“It’s a great stride that we made, Oakland head coach Jon Gruden said. “We have a lot of new players, rookies, and players that we signed here in the last six weeks. We’re doing everything we can to bring this franchise back. We have a long way to go, but today is an obvious step in the right direction. We’re going to see the trainer to see who we have available next week. We lost a lot of guys.”
The Chargers had hoped to build off their playoff run from a year ago, where they stifled Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens in the first round before being knocked out of the postseason by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The Raiders, under the guidance of head coach Jon Gruden, was thought to be the team to make a lot of noise in the AFC.
That didn’t happen because the Hard Knocks bunch failed to back the hype around their ballclub. Sitting with a record under .500, the Raiders still have a long way to go to be considered a legitimate playoff contender regularly.
Whether or not that includes quarterback Derek Carr, who brought his legs and arm to the Chargers and Raiders’ rivalry party, remains to be seen.
Carr demonstrated to Raiders Nation he can still ball out when he needs to, completing 26 of 30 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown. For good measure, Carr’s naked bootleg for a rushing touchdown against the Chargers showed off his deft scrambling abilities.
“I turned it up to fourth gear, I still have some more in me. There are still some more gears in me,” Carr said.
Carr’s fate and future as a Raider is neither here of there for Lynn. With one game remaining (at Kansas City) on their 2019 schedule, what matters to Lynn is how his team finishes the season.
“We go back and we start over,” Lynn said. “You can’t do anything about what’s behind you, but you can do something about what’s in front of you. We’ve got to prepare like men, and we’ve got to go out, compete and play like men.”
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers the NFL, NBA, MLB, racial and social justice, civil rights, and HBCUs. Dennis earned a journalism degree from “The Mecca” aka Howard University. “I write on what I am passionate about.”