Daniel Carlson’s 47-yard field goal as time expired in overtime lifted the Las Vegas Raiders past the Los Angeles Chargers 35-32 on Sunday night for their first playoff berth since 2016.
And they eliminated their AFC West rivals in the process, while helping Pittsburgh advance.
Las Vegas survived Los Angeles’ late-game comeback built on a series of fourth-down conversions to force overtime. The Chargers tied it with a 12-yard TD pass from Justin Herbert to Mike Williams as time expired in regulation.
Then each team made overtime field goals before Carlson won it. Carlson, three times the AFC special teams player of the week this season, kicked five field goals in the game.
The Raiders won a fourth straight game and completed an incredible late-season run after losing five of their previous six.
Derek Carr completed 20 of 36 pass attempts for 186 yards, including two touchdowns. Hunter Renfrow hauled in two touchdown passes, while Josh Jacobs ran for 132 yards on 26 carries, including one score.
The Raiders, who had arguably more offseason and in-season distractions than any team, overcame multiple adversities and return to the playoffs for only the second time since losing to Tampa Bay in the 2003 Super Bowl.
Had the teams tied, the Steelers would have been eliminated. Instead, Las Vegas goes to Cincinnati on Saturday to open the wild-card round, and Pittsburgh plays at Kansas City on Sunday night.
Trailing by 15 in the fourth quarter, the Chargers scored two late touchdowns, with a a 19-play, 83-yard drive capped by Herbert’s strike to Williams. Dustin Hopkins’ extra point sent the game into the extra period. Los Angeles converted on three fourth-down plays in the lengthy drive.
Herbert, who was under duress much of the night, completed 34 of his 64 attempts for 383 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
Las Vegas dominated early while taking a 10-0 lead.
Carlson booted a 24-yard field goal on the Raiders’ first possession, and after being forced to punt on its second drive, Las Vegas’ Divine Deablo recovered a fumble on special teams at the Los Angeles’ 23-yard line. Six plays later, Carr found Renfrow for a 12-yard touchdown.
Los Angeles responded behind a heavy dose of Austin Ekeler, who ran for 53 yards on nine carries and had two touchdowns in the first half. Ekeler ran 14 yards for one score and hauled in a 14-yard screen pass to give the Chargers a 14-10 lead.
Though the Chargers outgained the Raiders 180-142 in the first half, 85 yards in penalties against Los Angeles tied for the most in the first half by a Raiders opponent in the past 11 seasons. The biggest was a 41-yard defensive pass interference call against Chris Harris Jr. with 49 seconds left in the half.
Jacobs punched it in from the 1 on the next play to put Las Vegas back in front, and the Raiders’ defense stymied the Chargers’ final drive of the half.
Chargers: season over, need to sign key free agents and upgrade secondary.
Raiders: travel to Cincinnati for the first round of the AFC playoffs.
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