Chargers can’t handle pressure from Raiders; drop to 6-6

Chargers offense can't protect Herbert and the defense can't slow down Raiders attack.

Sunday was probably one of the Chargers poorest performances of the season. They failed to protect their superstar quarterback, slow down two major offensive weapons, and came away with more questions than answers.

The Chargers sit at 6-6 after losing 27-20 to the Las Vegas Raiders. As the losses keep mounting, it seems tougher and tougher to envision this as a playoff team because of numerous factors, but they don’t have the players.

Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s loss:

1. Chargers fail to protect Herbert

The Raiders, from the beginning, had one goal: to hit quarterback Justin Herbert. They did often.

On the game’s second offensive play, Raiders pass rusher Maxx Crosby smacked the ball out of Herbert’s hands, but he recovered.

Whenever Herbert dropped back in the first few offensive drives, it seemed like he had a hand in his face or someone breathing down on him.

“It was tough out there,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “The rush was coming. They had a lot of different designer looks up. They brought a lot of covers zero tonight. There was just a lot of different personnel groupings in there. There was a lot of people in there, and I thought that we were good at times. Then at times, a little bit leaky didn’t run the ball well enough.”

In fact, the Chargers offensive line gave up three sacks and 14 quarterback hits. Sunday was the first game in which left tackle Jamaree Salyer looked like a rookie. He couldn’t slow down Chandler Jones, who was consistently in Herbert’s face.

What is interesting as well is that Raiders had grown impatient with pass rusher Chandler Jones because of his lack of stats. Sunday was a coming-out party because he had three sacks, five quarterback hits, two tackles for loss, and a pass defended.

“They’ve got a really good front seven, and they’re really well coached,” Herbert said. “It was unfortunate we didn’t make enough plays today. We fell up short.”

Herbert praised his offensive line for battling, but it was a tough outing, especially when they are missing center Corey Linsley and right tackle Trey Pipkins.

Herbert had a bit of a cleaner pocket in the second half to their credit, but it wasn’t enough. This offense is making too many mistakes. On Sunday, in crucial moments, the Chargers came up short.

“We didn’t capitalize on our opportunities in the first half,” Staley said. “I thought that was kind of the story. The first half was we weren’t able to capitalize on big opportunities.”

2. Chargers can’t stop Adams or Jacobs

The plan for slowing down the Raiders is to take out either all-pro receiver Davante Adams or running back Josh Jacobs. The Chargers defense couldn’t do either.

They did have times when they slowed them like it took a bit for Jacobs to get going or for Adams to catch a pass, but it was hard to put the fire out once the log was burning.

On the fifth Raiders drive, Jacobs went untouched into the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown run that got him the confidence he needed to finish the game with 26 carries for 144 yards and one touchdown with an average of 5.5 yards per carry.

Going into halftime, Adams hadn’t been very dangerous until the Chargers gave him the opportunity. Chargers running back Austin Ekeler fumbled on the second play coming out of the half.

On the next play, Carr threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Adams with cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. on him.

In the following Chargers offensive drive, Cameron Dicker misses a 52-yard field goal.

Two plays later, Carr hits Adams for a wide-open 45-yard touchdown. The game flipped from 13-10 in favor of the Chargers, to a 27-13 Raiders lead.

“The third quarter was where the game was decided today,” Staley said.

The running back and receiver duo combined 36 touches, 327 yards and three touchdowns. They accounted for 327 yards out of the 404 total Raiders yards. Not good.

3. Playoff hopes take a hit

Coming into Sunday’s game, three things needed to happen: New York Jets and New England Patriots needed to lose, and the Chargers needed to win. Two of those happened with the Jets and Patriots losing their respective games.

The Jets hold the seventh spot, which is the final one to get into the playoffs. New England is in the eighth spot, and the Chargers sit in the ninth.

If the Chargers could have beat the Raiders, they would be sitting in the seventh spot.

“Move on; thinking and worrying about this one isn’t going to help us with the next one,” Herbert said.

Their playoff hopes did take a hit. Coming into Sunday’s game, they had a 53% chance of making it, and after the loss, it is now 32%. They have two tough games coming up against the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans.

The Chargers playoff hopes rest on the next two games.

“We’re six and six, and we’ve got five games left, the AFC is really tight,” Staley said. “We need to put this one behind us and get ready for Miami.”

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