The storied rivalry between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers goes back to the AFL days, as both teams were in the same division before and after the merger. In the 1960s, Al Davis was an assistant coach for the Chargers before leaving for Oakland to coach and eventually own the Raiders. As the Raiders head to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers in what will be their 125th meeting, in which the Raiders lead the all-time series with a record of 67-56-2, we will take a look at the five greatest moments in Raiders vs. Chargers history.
Raiders vs. Chargers’ Moment No. 5 – The Holy Roller
In 1978, the Raiders and San Diego faced off in a Week 2 matchup that went down to the wire. With seconds on the clock, Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler “fumbled” the ball forward as running back Pete Banaszak tapped the ball further towards the end zone, causing tight end Dave Casper to join in on the action, toe-tapping the ball before diving on it in the end zone, tying the game. The Chargers challenged the play, and it was ultimately ruled a touchdown based on the league rules (which were changed the next season as a result). The Raiders went on to kick the extra point, which resulted in a Raiders’ 21-20 win over the Chargers as time expired.
Raiders vs. Chargers’ Moment No. 4 – Slice of Blue
The 2016 season was almost a storybook season for the Raiders. Quarterback Derek Carr was having an MVP-caliber year and wide receiver Michael Crabtree was in the middle of a career renaissance as he became Carr’s favorite and most reliable target. In mid-December, the Raiders traveled to San Diego in what would turn out to be a playoff-clinching game for the Raiders (their first since 2002). The Raiders were stagnant offensively the entire first half and down 10-3 when Carr led a masterful drive that placed the Raiders into the red zone.
With 27 seconds to play in the second half, Carr dropped back and threw a fade to his trusty receiver in Crabtree who fought through coverage and came down with the ball in the end zone, which at first was ruled out of bounds. The play was reviewed, and it was determined that Crabtree indeed did catch the ball and was in bounds, his white cleats showed a “slice of blue” between his cleats and the boundary. That touchdown was the fuel the Raiders needed to mount a comeback which led to the Raiders beating the Chargers 19-16.
Raiders vs. Chargers’ Moment No. 3 – Philip Rivers’ Last Game as a Charger in Oakland
There were probably only a few quarterbacks who despised the Raiders more than Philip Rivers. Rivers, who is the most accomplished quarterback in Chargers history, led one of the most prolific teams in the early 2010s, which helped close the gap in the Raiders’ winning percentage against the Chargers. The late 2010s was a different story, as the Raiders began putting more wins on the board. In 2019, the Chargers did the unthinkable: they were ready to let Rivers go and would not offer him a new contract at the end of the season.
Rivers and the Chargers arrived in Oakland for a Thursday night game in which both teams battled to the end. The Raiders came out on top after a late Josh Jacobs touchdown and Rivers, who was off the entire night, threw his third interception of the game, allowing the Raiders to run out the clock and walk off with a 26-24 victory.
Raiders vs. Chargers’ Moment No. 2 – I’ve Never Wanted a Tie So Bad
In the final game of the 2021 season, the Raiders had gone from an improbable playoff team to a team that was now facing multiple playoff scenarios. If the Raiders beat the Chargers outright, the Raiders are in and the Chargers are out; if the Raiders lose, they need help to get in; and if the Raiders and Chargers tie, both teams would be in. In all the weeks leading up to the game, the possibility of a tie was discussed. The Raiders got up early in the game but allowed the Chargers to come back in the second and third quarters, leading the Raiders 29-14 in the fourth quarter. The Raiders were able to ramble together a series of drives, which resulted in a tie in regulation.
As the Raiders and Chargers went into overtime, Chargers coach Brandon Staley took another gamble as he called a timeout after Carr’s completion for a first down. That timeout gave the Raiders time to run one more play, on which Josh Jacobs rushed for another first down. As the seconds ticked off the board, Carr, with a smirk on his face, called a timeout to set up one last play in which Daniel Carlson would come in with ice in his veins and kick a 47-yard field goal to send the Chargers packing back to Los Angeles and the Raiders to the playoffs.
Raiders vs. Chargers’ Moment No. 1 – Raiders beat Chargers in the AFC Championship game
The 1980’s Raiders team was a story ripped from a Disney script. The lovable band of misfits overcame early losses at the beginning of the season to rattle off a winning season as they destroyed teams in the playoffs on their way to the AFC title game, in which they faced a familiar foe. Raiders quarterback Jim Plunkett started off hot as a ball tipped off running back Kenny King’s hands landed in tight end Raymond Chester’s hands to score a 65-yard touchdown. The Chargers answered with a Dan Fouts pass to Charlie Joyner, then the Raiders took over the game. Plunkett ran five yards for a touchdown, then threw another pass to Kenny King to take the lead to 21-7 in the first quarter.
The Chargers responded in the second and third quarters, adding another 17 points, but ultimately fell short as they lost to the Raiders 34-27, sending them home to watch the Raiders win their second Super Bowl. At the time of writing, the Chargers had yet to win a Super Bowl.
*Top Photo: Getty Images