Oakland Raiders 19, San Diego Chargers 16
Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Raiders' Week 15 AFC West win over the Chargers.
Quarterback grade: Derek Carr, 73.3
Carr drives Raiders’ resurgence
Oakland’s offense was sub-standard in their playoff-clinching win on the road in San Diego, but for a franchise so deprived of postseason play, this was a game to savor nonetheless. It was far from pretty at times for Derek Carr, though his resilience shines as a positive. He forced one ball over the middle in the red zone, resulting in a potentially costly interception. Later in the game, Carr totally misread the Chargers’ trap coverage. Overlooking a pair of dropping outside linebackers, the Raiders’ signal-caller felt he had WR Michael Crabtree wide open on a slant. Melvin Ingram’s eye lit up, but he could not complete the job. More positively, Carr maneuvered well under pressure, completing six of nine attempts for 111 yards and a 109.0 QB rating. Although today was not the best illustration, the Raiders’ decision to draft Derek Carr has decidedly changed their fortunes.
Top offensive grades:
LT Donald Penn, 79.1
RG Gabe Jackson, 78.7
QB Derek Carr, 73.3
WR Michael Crabtree, 71.4
LT Menelik Watson, 70.1
Prioritizing offensive line pays off
Perhaps the most significant improvement on the Raiders’ roster under Reggie McKenzie has come on the offensive line. High-priced veterans Donald Penn and Kelechi Osemele have proven their value with dominant seasons. Along with C Rodney Hudson, the Raiders possess a trio of top-five players at their position. Gabe Jackson, meanwhile, is a fine RG in his own right. The versatility of the front five, both in terms of position and scheme fit, offers Bill Musgrave a plethora of potential plays and personnel packages. Menelik Watson also put forth an impressive performance in Oakland’s jumbo package. In total, Oakland’s offensive line only gave up a sack, two hits, and 10 pressures, and five of those were allowed by right tackle Austin Howard. The front five are the bedrock of the rolling Raiders.
Top defensive grades:
ED Khalil Mack, 88.2
LB Malcolm Smith, 84.0
S Nate Allen, 83.8
LB Perry Riley, 83.4
CB David Amerson, 80.6
Disciplined Raiders' defense steps up in clutch situations
One of the main reasons behind Oakland’s defensive success on Sunday was its tackling efficiency. The Raiders missed just four tackles the entire day, three of which came on just one play. In addition, the Raiders’ edge rushers always stepped up in the right moments. Bruce Irvin (72.7 game grade) made one of the highlight plays of the game in the first half when he first flushed Philip Rivers out of the pocket, then pursued Kenneth Farrow downfield to force a fumble. Irvin, of course, also made the game-deciding hit on the last play, which forced an interception from Rivers. While Irvin shined in pass-rush, fellow edge rusher Khalil Mack had an absolutely complete game, as he was disruptive and unstoppable against the run just as much as he was when rushing the passer. Although Mack did not record a sack against San Diego, he did lead the Oakland defense with nine total pressures.
Quarterback grade: Philip Rivers, 80.6
Rivers manages game well for Chargers
While he may not have made many spectacular throws, Philip Rivers did avoid mistakes, too, as his lone interception came on a pass where he was hit during the throwing motion. Besides that, Rivers did not put the ball in harms way; he kept his poise and was patient to find open receivers. However, he did not get a lot of help from his supporting cast, as he was under pressure on 45.5 percent of his dropbacks and was victimized by three drops. Although the Chargers lost to the Raiders, this was a solid bounce-back game for Rivers after his poor outing against Carolina last week.
Top offensive grades:
WR Dontrelle Inman, 75.0
TE Hunter Henry, 73.2
G D.J. Fluker, 72.2
G Orlando Franklin, 70.5
WR Travis Benjamin, 69.7
Supporting cast lets Rivers down
Although Oakland’s edge rushers represent a challenge for every team, it can still be determined that San Diego’s offensive line struggled today. As a matter of fact, every starting lineman gave up at least one pressure, with the exception of left guard Orlando Franklin. Consequently, quarterback Philip Rivers was under pressure on 15 of his 33 dropbacks, including San Diego’s last three plays in the game. In addition, wide receiver Tyrell Williams dropped three of his eight targets, while rookie running back Kenneth Farrow had two fumbles. Overall, Rivers just could not overcome the numerous individual mistakes the Chargers committed against Oakland.
Top defensive grades:
CB Trovon Reed, 86.3
ILB Jatavis Brown, 85.4
OLB Melvin Ingram, 84.1
OLB Joey Bosa, 80.7
OLB Kyle Emanuel, 79.2
Edge rushers set standard for future seasons
In a season full of negatives, San Diego’s persistent pass-rush offers hope that a quick turnaround is possible. Melvin Ingram’s development was visible Sunday. He generated five pressures, recorded five stops, and deflected his lone target in coverage. With a bookend like Joey Bosa, he can afford to take risks. Bosa continued his ease into the pros with another six pressures and four stops. Even Kyle Emanuel executes his specific role to perfection. Playing outside linebacker in base with Bosa kicked inside, Emanuel wrecked the Raiders’ ground game with a couple stops and numerous other disruptions. The Chargers are finally starting to form a formidable front.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Khalil Mack, DE, Raiders
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