Top 5 takeaways from Raiders' 34-31 win over Chargers
Raiders in first place
The Raiders didn’t play great on Sunday against San Diego. Each phase found cause for frustration during this dramatic Week 5 contest, but as head coach Jack Del Rio likes to say, it’s always easier to make corrections with a smile.
That’s possible because the Raiders gutted out another close victory. It puts them at 4-1 and in a tie for first place in the AFC West. The Raiders are happy to be in that position, yet fully aware they must show better to maintain it.
5. Fill-ins fare well
Injuries made the biggest impact on the Raiders lineup on Sunday, with mainstays Latavius Murray, Malcolm Smith and Lee Smith all out with injury. The Raiders were able to carry on and win without them thanks to contributions from newcomers or role players. Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and Jamize Olawale kept the run game going without Murray. Perry Riley led the team in tackles stepping in for Malcolm Smith a few days after becoming a Raider. Vadal Alexander held up well at right tackle despite an in-game ankle injury.
4. Rookies make an impact
The Raiders started four rookies against the Chargers and played eight in significant roles. That’s a high total for a winning team. The wins have come in large part because rookies have held their own. Karl Joseph has made the biggest impact in three defensive starts, though right tackle Vadal Alexander and linebacker Cory James have stood tall when asked to assume heavy responsibility. That’s been key to this hot start, with young, often unheralded rookies, stepping up in key spots.
3. Captain Jack stays aggressive
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio has made some bold decisions this season, most notably a 2-point conversion in New Orleans to secure an upset win. That wasn’t a one-time thing. He got a key fourth-down conversion last week in Balitmore and went big again against San Diego, going for it on 4th down late in the third quarter. The decision paid dividends when Derek Carr threw a fade to Michael Crabtree for the go-ahead touchdown. Del Rio’s decisions inspire confidence in his players, and they’ve paid it back with quality execution.
2. Opportunistic defense
The Raiders defense gives up a ton of yards. They’re the league’s worst in that category, which frustrates veteran players. Many believe such play won’t stand against better teams that know how to finish strong. The defense has gotten by with takeaways aplenty. The Raiders had four against San Diego, including an interception and a fumble recovery by Karl Joseph. Those turnovers led to 13 Raiders points and helped turn the tide. The Raiders have eight takeaways on this three-game win streak, pivotal plays that have let the good times roll.
1. Raiders don’t blink
The Raiders seem to come up big in the game’s important moments, a common theme during their hot start. Whether it was Derek Carr throwing a long touchdown on a short fourth down, or the defense forcing a Chargers field goal try eventually botched with a third down stand, or any of four takeaways, or Sebastian Janikowski converting a 56-yard field goal -- the Raiders seem to perform when it matters most. Confidence in crunch time will help the Raiders deal with stressful situations down the line.