By Tim Peterson
(Inglewood) – Donald Parham Jr. appeared to catch the game winning touchdown pass from Justin Herbert on the final play of the game. So much so that the line judge threw his arms in the air signaling a Chargers touchdown and a victory touching off a celebration. But minutes later it was the Raiders who were celebrating when after an official review it was was ruled that the ball had hit the ground, Parham Jr. didn’t hold on and Las Vegas had escaped with a 31-26 victory over LA Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
The Chargers were in position to win after getting the ball back with 4:37 left in the fourth quarter after Daniel Carlson kicked a 31-yard field give the Raiders the five point advantage. Herbert then drove the team down the field to the four yard line. With six seconds left he hit Mike Williams on the same fade pattern in the end zone but he was also unable to hold on while falling out of the back of the end zone leaving the last gasp and one second.
The Raiders got on the board first on their second possession of the game. A 62-yard drive was capped by a 23-yard touchdown run by DeVontae Booker for a 7-0 lead.
The Chargers got even in the second quarter marching 81 yards on 13 plays with Kalen Bellage going the final 5 yards for the score with 13:24 left in the quarter.
After a short punt and a return the Raiders took over on the LA 44 and needed just 6 plays to get in the end zone. Josh Jacobs hit to pylon in right corner for a 14 yard touchdown run to make it 14-7 with 5:34 left.
The Chargers then put together a 10-play, 75-yard drive. Justin Herbert hit a wide open Keenan Allen for a 27- yard touchdown strike with just 19 seconds left in the first half.
It looked like the two teams would go into halftime tied at 14 but on the next possession Jerry Tillery had a strip sack of Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr and also recovered the fumble at the Raider 28. Badgley then booted a 45-yard field goal to give the Chargers their first lead at 17-14 with five seconds left. LA suddenly had the advantage at the break.
The Raiders struck quick in the third quarter. Carr hit Nelson Agholar in the left corner of the end zone for 45 yards to put Las Vegas back on top. The Raiders used just 1 minute and 42 seconds on four plays to score.
After the Chargers offense stalled the Raiders increased the lead. They moved the ball 75 yards on 8 plays. Carr finished it with a 3-yard bullet over the middle to Darren Waller to give the Raiders a 28-17 lead with 7:49 left in the third. A 53-yard pass from Carr to Hunter Renfrow down to the 16 set up the score.
Herbert countered by finding Tyron Johnson for 50 yards down to the Raider 11 yard line on the following possession to set up a 29-yard Badgley field goal. The three pointer cut the Raiders lead to 28-20 with 4:19 left in the third.
Early in the fourth quarter the Chargers mounted a 12-play, 82 yard drive as Herbert hit fullback Gabe Nabers for a 4-yard touchdown to make it 28-26. Herbert was hit and knocked down on the play hand had to leave the game. Tyrod Taylor came on and tried to run in a two point conversion but was stopped short.
The Raiders were halted on their next possession and were forced to punt but K.J. Hill Jr. muffed the punt and Kyle Wilber recovered it at the Charger 31. Carlson took advantage of the error with a 30-yard field goal to make it 31-26 with 4:37 left.
Herbert returned and engineered the Chargers down the field for one final shot. But in the end the Chargers had come up short in another close game.
“It was an option play. The quarterback could have taken off and run it but he (Parham Jr.) is 6’9″ and all he as done is catch touchdown passes for us,” said Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn. “I thought it was a good call and you saw the results. This is a resilient football team. We competed for four quarters. They deserved to win. I was just disappointed that I couldn’t help them get that win today.”
For the Chargers Herbert completed 28 of 42 for 326 yards and two touchdowns. Allen hauled in 9 receptions for 103 yards and a score.
Carr threw for 165 yards on 13 of 23 and a touchdown for the Raiders.
The Chargers fell to 2-6 with the loss while the Raiders improved to 5-3.