Erik Harris' two-interception night sparks Raiders' win vs. Chargers

Erik Harris' two-interception night sparks Raiders' win vs. Chargers

OAKLAND -- Anyone who knows Erik Harris' story, knows he fits perfectly with this resilient Raiders team. 

Undrafted out of Division II California University of Pennsylvania, Harris worked at a potato chip factory and for UPS while figuring out his football career. He eventually caught on in the CFL, playing three years with the Hamilton Tiger Cats before getting a shot in the NFL with the Saints in 2016. 

After playing mostly special teams for the Raiders in 2017, Harris was supposed to be a depth piece for head coach Jon Gruden's young secondary. But after rookie safety Johnathan Abram tore his rotator cuff in Week 1, Harris was thrust into duty. 

Like most of the Raiders defense, Harris has mixed good performances with bad ones so far this season. But Thursday night was one the safety will remember for the rest of his life. 

On Thursday night, the Raiders welcomed the rival Chargers to the Coliseum for the final time. At 4-5, the Chargers were looking to ride the momentum of their Week 9 win over the Packers to finally get back to .500 and resurrect their season after a 2-5 start. 

On the first possession of the game, the Chargers marched down the field but quarterback Philip Rivers sailed a ball over the head of Keenan Allen and right into the arm of Harris, who took it back 59 yards to the Chargers' 31-yard line. 

The Raiders offense settled for a field goal and the Chargers were right back on the move, getting to midfield on three plays. But on first-and-10 from their own 46, Rivers threw a pass intended for tight end Hunter Henry. The star tight end fell down and the ball fluttered right to Harris, who picked it off and took it back 56 yards for a touchdown, sending the Coliseum into a frenzy. 

"I was really just doing my job," Harris said of the pick-six after the Raiders' thrilling 26-24 win. "I was messing around with Phil a little bit, showing him one thing and then came back down. Just kind of read off him and was where I'm supposed to be. The first pick he put a little too much air into it and kind of gifted it into my lap. I like gifts." 

In a primetime game against a division rival, the 10 points the Raiders got off Harris' interception injected some swagger into a defense down to just seven healthy defensive linemen.

"It gave us a lot of momentum, a lot of energy," linebacker Tahir Whitehead said of Harris' picks. "But going against a quarterback like Philip you see, even down to the wire, they were still in it. So you know, at the end of the day, that can give you energy but you got to keep playing because you know he's going to keep going out there, keep slinging it the exact way he did." 

Sure enough, there was no quit in the Chargers who took a 24-20 lead with 4:02 to play. The Raiders' offense answered with a long drive that was capped by a Josh Jacobs 18-yard touchdown run to put them up 26-24 with a minute to go. 

The Raiders defense, which came up with a game-winning stop in Week 9 against the Lions, had to play the role of hero again. They did just that as safety Karl Joseph picked off Rivers with 20 seconds to go to seal the win. 

"It feels great to be in that moment," Harris said of the defense getting the game-winning stop. "People will say it's pressure, but it's really not pressure when you are prepared. Just to get off the field and hear the crowd go crazy when that ball hits the field, it's pretty surreal." 

[RELATED: Raiders rookie class' dynastic vision might be ahead of schedule]

Despite the injuries, five-game road trip and early-season drama, the Raiders find themselves at 5-4 and firmly in the AFC playoff hunt, with a new hero emerging every week. 

In the final night game at the Coliseum, Harris picked off Rivers twice and had a third interception in the end zone nullified when defensive end Maxx Crosby was flagged for lining up in the neutral zone. He had 115 return yards and a touchdown that gave the Raiders some early-game juice to steady to the ship in the biggest game of their season. 

"It was pretty exciting and a special moment for this team, special moment for my teammates," Harris said. "It's a credit to them for just putting me in a position and trusting those guys." 

A team win it was, but Harris was the man of the hour. 

Raiders injury report: Josh Jacobs, Trent Brown miss practice Thursday

Raiders injury report: Josh Jacobs, Trent Brown miss practice Thursday

ALAMEDA – The Raiders desperately need running back Josh Jacobs and right tackle Trent Brown available for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

Both players have spent significant time playing through pain, and that very well could happen again this week.

Jacobs has been dealing with a fractured shoulder since Week 7. Brown has missed one game, but has played through ankle and knee injuries thus far this season. Now, he has a pectoral ailment keeping him out of practice.

Brown has played through a ton of pain and could well do so again.

“He’s had a number of different injuries throughout this season,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “Nagging injuries more than anything else as you’ve seen. He’s missed practice but he has been ready to go on Sunday.”

Jacobs volunteered on social media that his shoulder is fractured, and him missing practice enitrely -- instead of being limited -- is a slight difference from previous weeks.

The Raiders try to manage his workload during the week to get him as ready as possible for game day.

“We would never put a player in harm, but we’ve managed him and he’s been honest with us in terms of the injury,” Olson said. “Our training staff has done a great job really throughout the week making sure he’s ready to go on Sundays.”

[RELATED: How Carr, Raiders' offense can get back on track vs. Titans]

Right guard Gabe Jackson did not participate in Thursday’s session after being considered limited for a Wednesday walk-through conducted indoors. His participation level on Friday will give further indication of his readiness for Sunday.

Raiders practice report

Did not practice
WR Hunter Renfrow (rib)
RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder)
OT Trent Brown (pectoral)
LB Kyle Wilber (ankle)
RG Gabe Jackson (knee)

Limited practice
C Rodney Hudson (ankle)
CB Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring)

Derek Carr details what must get fixed to reignite Raiders offense

Derek Carr details what must get fixed to reignite Raiders offense

ALAMEDA – The Raiders stink. They’re a terrible team after blowout losses against the Jets and Chiefs despite being truly amazing just over a fortnight’s past, when they were coming off a three-game winning streak that made them NFL darlings and a resurgent playoff contender.

That’s the same team we’re talking about, One coming off dramatically different results that have a once confident fan base pulling its hair out heading into Sunday’s vital matchup against the Tennessee Titans.

A win against them at Oakland Coliseum and all is right in the world (again). Lose and it’s apocalypse now.

“I’m excited we get a chance to go compete against a really good football team,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “That’s the beautiful thing about this game. You rewind two weeks ago, we were the greatest story in the NFL and two weeks later we suck again, so I think we’ll be alright. (laughter) We are just going to keep grinding. We’re going to stick to what we do.”

Carr admits they’ll have to do better, especially on offense. The passing game is stuck in neutral, revving its engine without moving an inch.

That’s large part receiver issues – Jon Gruden says he’s shaking up that position group this week – and some lackluster quarterback play with two pick-sixes in the last two games. Can’t have that, plain and simple. The Raiders can’t afford the penalty issues plaguing them recently. They can’t afford the nine-quarter touchdown drought that stretched from the Bengals game through the Jets contest and deep into the Chiefs embarrassment. The Raiders beat the Bengals but have been outscored 74-21 in two losses since.

“We’ve had a rough two weeks,” Carr said. “I’ve had a rough two weeks. It’s time to get back on track, it’s time to get back in our stadium, it’s time to be efficient on offense, it’s time to win. I’m excited we get a chance to go compete against a really good football team.”

The Raiders' offense must find a groove after hitting a rough patch, but let’s not forget this unit posted 24 or more points for six straight weeks. They can get going again by finding old magic. The key, Carr says, is staying on schedule and staying balanced. They have to start strong – they aren’t built to overcome large deficits – and avoid major mistakes.

[RELATED: Carr can't say enough about rookie Jacobs' toughness]

That’s how the Raiders did it before. That’s how they can do it again.

“Our execution has not been good enough at all,” Carr said. “Like executing the plays to every detail hasn’t been good enough at all. Turning the ball over myself. I don’t do that. I don’t want to do that. Never been something I’ve wanted to do or been a part of my game and so it doesn’t matter how it happened or why it happened, it happened, and we have to eliminate the turnovers and that starts with me.”