On an afternoon when Silver and Black supporters overran Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, the Oakland Raiders produced yet another fourth-quarter escape to end the team’s 14-year postseason drought.
“Just win. Right?” Derek Carr told reporters after the Raiders beat the San Diego Chargers 19-16. “It’s what we say. Everyone in there knows that some days it’s not going to be 500 yards of offense. It’s not going to be 40 points. It’s not going to certain things. We honestly don’t care about those things.”
While Carr gets credit for his seventh fourth-quarter comeback of the season, 12 of the team’s 19 points came courtesy of Sebastian Janikowski — the only Raider who was also on the roster back in 2002.
With just under three minutes to go in Sunday’s game, Janikowski snuck a 44-year kick inside the upright to break the 16-16 tie.
“Stats are fun for people to look at,” said Carr, who went for 213 yards while throwing one touchdown and one pick. “Trying to compare this and that. We just want to win. I promise. There’s something in everyone in that locker room and I think that’s why we do win is that our mindset is that we just want to do our job and help the man next to us so that we can win.”
Even before the Raiders got past the Chargers, the team received a gift from their AFC West rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs.
Thanks to a 53-yard field goal as time expired, Kansas City fell 19-17 to the Tennessee Titans. The loss drops the Chiefs to 10-4, leaving the 11-3 Raiders in sole possession of first place and in control of their destiny in the division.
“What we’re most in control of is the effort that we give to recovering and preparing and competing,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “And that’s what’s got us to this position and I think with that approach we’re going to stack up as many wins as we can and hope it’s enough at the end.”
There was such a large contingent of Raiders fans at the Chargers’ home stadium that at one point a MVP chant for Carr rang through the crowd.
“When we come to San Diego our fans turn it into a home game,” Carr said when asked about the swaths of Raiders fans. “So, we always think we get nine home games a year. That’s not saying any disrespect to them. It’s just how our fans come and support us.”
The afternoon began in inauspicious fashion, as Latavius Murray fumbled twice (losing one of them) in the first quarter and Carr badly underthrew Seth Roberts for an interception early in the second.
In the fourth quarter, the defense leveled up the turnover battle. On the Chargers’ first drive of the quarter, linebacker Perry Riley Jr. forced a fumble that fellow linebacker Malcolm Smith recovered on San Diego’s 13-yard line. Then on the defense’s final play of the game, safety Reggie Nelson intercepted Philip Rivers to seal the win.