The Los Angeles Chargers’ hopes of advancing to the playoffs for the first time since 2018 ended with a 35-32 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders Sunday evening in Las Vegas with Daniel Carlson kicking the tie-breaking 47-yard field goal as time expired in overtime.
The Chargers tied the score, 29-29, as time expired in regulation on Justin Herbert’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams and Dustin Hopkins’ extra point, completing a comeback from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit.
Las Vegas regained the lead on Carlson’s 40-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime. The Chargers re-tied the score on Hopkins’ 41-yard field goal on the ensuing possession.
A victory or a tie in the final game of the 2021 NFL regular season would have put the Chargers (9-8) in the playoffs. The victory put the Raiders (10-7) in the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and second since 2003. They would also have qualified for the playoffs with a tie.
Carlson’s 52-yard field goal with eight minutes, 23 seconds to play gave Las Vegas a 29-14 lead. The field goal came eight plays after former Charger Casey Hayward Jr. intercepted a pass by Herbert at the Raiders’ 36-yard line.
The Chargers cut the deficit to 29-22 with 4:28 to play on Herbert’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Palmer on a fourth-and-21 play and Herbert’s pass to Austin Ekeler for a two-point conversion. The 14-play, 75-yard drive also included the Chargers converting on another fourth-down play with Herbert passing to Williams for 6 yards on a fourth-and-6 play.
Williams had initially been ruled to have been short of the line to gain, but the call on the field was reversed following a challenge by the Chargers.
The Chargers drove 83 yards on 19 plays on their final drive of regulation, including three fourth-down conversions. Herbert completed six of 19 passes for 78 yards on the drive.
The Chargers trailed 17-14 at halftime. Hopkins missed a 51-yard field goal attempt wide left on their first drive of the second half. They turned the ball over on downs on their second drive of the second half when Ekeler was tackled for a 2-yard loss on a fourth-and-1 play from the Chargers’ 18-yard line.
Carlson kicked a 31-yard field goal for the third quarter’s only points four plays later.
Las Vegas increased its lead to 26-14 46 seconds into the fourth quarter as Derek Carr completed a 13-play, 83-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow. Renfrow was tackled short of the end zone on the Raiders’ 2-point conversion attempt.
The drive included three third-down conversions, the last via a holding penalty on Chargers’ linebacker Uchenna Nwosu on a pass from Carr to Renfrow that fell incomplete.
The Chargers outgained Las Vegas, 440 yards to 346, and led 27-24 in first downs. The Raiders led in time of possession, 38:41-31:19 before a crowd announced at 62,068 at Allegiant Stadium.
Herbert completed 34 of 64 passes for 383 yards and three touchdowns with one interception for an 80.4 passer rating on a scale from 0 to 158.3 and a rating over 100 is considered superior.
Carr completed 20 of 36 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns for an 88.4 passer rating.
Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs ran for 132 yards, the most of his three-season, 43-game NFL career, erasing his previous high of 129 set twice.
The Raiders took a 10-0 lead 11:46 into the game. Carlson kicked a 24-yard field goal on the game’s first drive. Las Vegas increased its lead to 10-0 on their third possession on Carr’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Renfrow six plays after Andre Roberts fumbled a punt and the ball was recovered by Divine Deablo on the Chargers’ 23-yard line.
The Chargers scored the next 14 points to take a 14-10 lead with 1:52 left in the first half on two touchdowns by Ekeler, the first on a 14-yard run and the second on a 14-yard pass from Herbert.
The Raiders regained the lead on Josh Jacobs’ 1-yard run 37 seconds before halftime, one play after a 41-yard pass interference penalty against Chris Harris gave them a first down on the Chargers’ 1-yard line.
Las Vegas extended the drive on Jalen Richards’ 23-yard run on a third-and-23 play from its 35-yard line. The call on the field was that Richards was short of the first down, but replay official Chad Adams reviewed the short of the line to gain ruling which he reversed, giving the Raiders the first down on the Chargers’ 42-yard line.