Raiders dash Chargers’ postseason hopes

(News4usonline) – Blame it on the Houston Texans. That’s who cost the Los Angeles Chargers a chance to make the playoffs. It was not the Las Vegas Raiders and their 35-32 overtime win against Los Angeles on Sunday night.

The Raiders just mopped up what the Texans started. It was Week 16. The Chargers had just lost a tough overtime game to AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15. Playing the Texans was expected to be a gimme win. If there was a game that the Chargers could not afford to lose, it was against the Texans.

The glory days of having sack master J.J. Watt and quarterback Deshaun Watson being on the field representing the franchise, have been long gone for that franchise.

But as the Chargers found out there are no gimme wins in the National Football League (NFL). Houston, which finished the season with a 4-13 record, got one of their signature wins when they beat the Chargers 41-29 at NRG Stadium. And they did it with rookie quarterback Davis Mills to boot.

“Yeah, from the beginning of the game we weren’t able to get into a rhythm as a team,” Staley said after the Houston loss. “I loved the way we moved the ball in the first half. I felt like we moved the ball the entire game. We had to kick some field goals there, but I felt like defensively, we couldn’t get into a comfort zone or rhythm in the run game or passing game on third down. We didn’t play well in two-minute at the half, didn’t play well in four-minute at the end of the game. We just didn’t have enough today.”

Herbert, in his postgame comments after the loss to Houston, talked about his team’s blown opportunities.

“Yeah, it’s one of those tough things that we kind of shot ourselves in the foot,” Herbert said. “ We did move the ball really well and I thought we ran the ball well. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get to turn those drives into touchdowns.”

The Houston game was the one game down the stretch that the Chargers had to win. But in the overall scheme of things, Los Angeles fell short in multiple places. The Chargers wound up losing three of their last four games. Playoff-caliber teams don’t go into a deep slide by the time the postseason arrives.         

The Chargers finished the season with a 9-8 record or just one game above .500. This is not what Staley had envisioned for his ballclub.

“I am disappointed because I feel like we are one of the best teams in the NFL,” Staley said following his team’s loss to Las Vegas. “This team is not only good enough to be in the tournament but to win it. I know who is in the tournament, and I felt like we have a good enough team to be in it. It was a fight this season.

Staley continued, “It was a fight, and we just couldn’t create enough separation. We had to have this game, and we just couldn’t quite finish it out. We laid it on the line. Tonight was a great example of the way that we played all season.”

The Raiders made sure their rivals would spend another offseason wondering what would have been and what should have been.

“You know what? I’m almost numb to the rollercoaster,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “I had someone come up to me, Nate Peterman, he came up to me and is like ‘Dude, my freaking stomach during that.’ This fifteen-point lead, then it’s gone, then we go score, then they score, and it’s unbelievable. Of course, it’s what’s on the line.”

Like they’ve done all season, the Chargers fought until the end. That’s because the makeup of Herbert would not allow his team to tuck tail and run. With the Raiders up two scores and time winding down in the fourth quarter, Herbert went into focus mode and guided the Chargers to a couple of late touchdowns to send the game into overtime.    

That’s the way the Pro Bowl quarterback has played all season. Herbert, in just his second season in the NFL, has established himself to be THAT GUY for the Chargers. The record books reflect that.

By the time the Chargers’ defeat became official, Herbert cemented his name in the history of the franchise with the most yards passing in a season and most pass completions in a single season.

Herbert bypassed Hall of Famer Dan Fouts (4,802 yards) in the most yards thrown in a season category. He finished the season with 5,014 yards. During the game against the Raiders, Herbert also leapfrogged Philip Rivers (437) with the most completed passes (443) during a season.   

Records are probably something that are the last things on Herbert’s mind. After the game, he talked about the rollercoaster ride of that overtime loss to the Raiders and not being able to guide his team into the postseason.

Yeah, it’s really tough, you know,” Herbert said. “The whole goal is to get to the playoffs and to eventually win the Super Bowl and it didn’t go our way tonight. That’s the unfortunate part. I’m really proud of the way everyone’s battled this year, and we never gave up. It’s an honor to be a part of this team and a part of that locker room because everyone cares a lot and they left everything on the field tonight.”

Feature Image Caption: Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (81) reacts after missing an attempted touchdown catch against the Las Vegas Raiders during overtime of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Ellen Schmidt)