New interim head coach Tony Sparano buried a football during his first practice to symbolize a new beginning, and the Raiders started that new beginning with a 31-28 loss.
Derek Carr benefitted from the bye week by getting his knee and ankle healthy, and may have played his best game in the Silver & Black.
The rookie quarterback was stellar from the beginning, when he found wide receiver Andre Holmes on the second play of the game. Holmes beat the defender as the ball found him in stride, leading to a 77-yard touchdown reception to give the Raiders the 7-0 lead just a minute into the game.
Phillip Rivers and the Chargers responded with their own touchdown drive on the ensuing series. Rivers found wide receiver Eddie Royal down the left side, who beat Tarell Brown for the touchdown. Brown started the game out sloppy, but excelled at cornerback towards the end.
Rivers continued to attack linebacker Miles Burris when he was dropping back in coverage. The Chargers took the 14-7 lead when Rivers found Malcolm Floyd on a slant, with Burris and Carlos Rogers in coverage.
The Raiders would respond with their first score in the second quarter all season. Carr stayed in the pocket and found James Jones in the end zone for the six-yard score, tying the game at 14 to 14.
San Diego appeared to be on the way to taking the lead again when they were in the Raiders red zone, but penalties backed them up to a 4th and 35. Surprisingly, the Chargers looked to catch the Raiders off guard with a fake punt but Eric Weddle’s throw to Ajirotutu Seyi soared out of bounds.
Carr and the Raiders offense took advantage of the good field position, as the young quarterback found Brice Butler for another touchdown. The second-year wide receiver hauled in the pass about 10 yards from the line of scrimmage, but broke free from the defense for a 47-yard touchdown.
After being tied at 21 to 21 at halftime, the Raiders took the lead again with Carr’s fourth and final touchdown throw of the game. Carr showed great poise and patience rolling to his right and letting Holmes get open in the back of the end zone for the six-yard touchdown.
Following a Chargers field goal, Carr and the Raiders offense had a chance to put San Diego away as they got the ball with about six minutes remaining. The the Raiders offense had their worst offensive series of the day. The Raiders gained just five yards en route to their three and out, giving the ball back to Rivers.
Bay Area native Keenan Allen made it even easier for the Chargers offense with a 29-yard punt return to set Rivers up at the Raiders 39-yard line. The Chargers needed just six plays, including four runs by undrafted rookie Branden Oliver to punch the ball in to take the 31-28 lead.
Carr still had 1:56 on the clock to execute the comeback and earn the Raiders first victory of the season, but it wouldn’t be the case. Carr went for the home run from the 45 yard line, throwing the ball up for grabs. Butler went up for the ball but came up just short and Chargers rookie cornerback Jason Verrett made a great play to bring the ball down for the interception at the five yard line.
The Chargers would go to the victory formation and take a kneel to secure the Raiders 31-28 loss.