Their playoff hopes are still alive Charging device Now go back to where everything died for them last season.
Broken, not far from the Strip.
Almost 11 months ago, the Chargers visited the Allegiant Stadium and got into overtime 35-32 to Las Vegas in the NFL regular season finale.
It wasn’t a mandatory win, but it shouldn’t have been a loss. A win or tie would have advanced the Chargers to the playoffs.
Instead, they were thrown away by a 47-yard field goal by the Raiders when time – fittingly enough – ran out.
Now they are back.
“It seems like it’s been so long,” linebacker Drew Tranquill said. “We’ve played about 20 games since then, haven’t we? But there will be nostalgia for sure. We will feel it.”
Chargers enter Sunday eighth place in the AFC with a score of 6-5. They are one game behind the Cincinnati and New York Jets, the bottom two teams in the conference playoffs.
Among those three contenders, the Chargers have the easiest schedule left. Their rivals are 29-37-1, compared to 40-28 for the Bengals and 40-27 for the Jets.
The Raiders are 4-7 and can’t hope for anything more significant than robbing an opponent’s season, little consolation even for a franchise whose logo features a man with an eyepatch.
“Urgent,” said Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen. “Definitely playing fast. We have to get back to where we want to be.”
Allen and his teammates need a victory over Las Vegas for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is what awaits them on the other side.
After this game, the Chargers will play the next two at home against Miami and Tennessee, the top-seated pair of teams. Even with Sunday’s win, the Chargers could be 7-7 with three games left.
They will finish with the Indianapolis, Rams, and Denver, all teams that won’t make the 2022 playoffs. Will these three victories be enough?
“AFC is just so tight,” Tranquill said. “You may need to get 11 wins to get in. I’m not sure what a 10-7 team will get this year.”
While their victories aren’t a work of art, the Chargers jumped at some great opportunities. They are 6-1 against teams with losing records and 0-4 against teams with winning records.
The teams they beat have a combined score of 21-46-1 with a .316 win percentage. They lost to rivals with a score of 35-20 (0.636). Dolphins and Titans enter on Sunday at 15-7.
“From now on, everyone will mean a lot, especially to us,” defenseman Derwin James Jr. said. “We have to play them all hard.”
The Chargers and Raiders left everything alone with their DNA at Allegiant Stadium last January. 9, playing in prime time, and both teams are still in contention for the playoffs.
Trailing by 15 in the final five minutes of regulation, quarterback Justin Herbert led the Chargers to consecutive hits and a two-point conversion to go into overtime.
The second streak lasted 19 games and covered 83 yards in over two minutes, Herbert hitting Mike Williams in the end zone with 0:00 on the scoreboard.
“We were crazy tired,” recalled wide receiver Joshua Palmer. “There were no submarines. The whole drive was insane.”
Along the way, the Chargers sold two draws with the fourth and 10th and one with the fourth and 10th. They had another situation with fourth and tenth when Las Vegas was called for a hold.
Twice the ride was stopped to watch replays, officials reversed both calls, turning one into Herbert’s incompletion and the other into Herbert’s completion.
When Williams finally scored, Palmer recalls running to celebrate in the end zone, just as a water bottle was spun from the stands.
“Wild, that’s what I think,” said Chargers linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. said. “Just a wild game.”
Could something similar happen on Sunday? Although just 4-7, the Raiders have won two in a row, both away and in overtime. Eight of their games this season have been decided by one score.
Six of the last seven meetings between these teams ended with a difference of seven points or less. The Chargers visited the Allegiant Stadium twice, and both games ended in overtime.
“It doesn’t matter if we play with them in the parking lot,” James said. “Chargers-Raiders, you know what game this is going to be. We should go play.”
Must play and most likely must win, which Las Vegas usually allows quite reluctantly.