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Chargers’ season ends in 35-32 overtime loss to Las Vegas Raiders

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Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams reacts after missing an end-zone pass in overtime.
Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams reacts after missing an end-zone pass in overtime during Sunday’s 35-32 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
(David Becker / Associated Press)

Daniel Carlson kicks a 47-yard field goal as time expires for the Las Vegas Raiders in a 35-32 overtime win that eliminates the Chargers from postseason contention.

Chargers’ playoff hopes shattered in season-ending overtime loss to Raiders

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert walks off the field at Allegiant Stadium after losing to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert walks off the field at Allegiant Stadium after losing to the Las Vegas Raiders in overtime 35-32 in the final game of the NFL regular season Sunday.
(Steve Marcus / Getty Images)

The Chargers would be delighted with that tie now.

In a game they simply could not lose and still advance to the playoffs, the Chargers lost Sunday to the Las Vegas Raiders 35-32 in overtime.

The defeat ended their season at 9-8 as they dropped three of their final four games to miss the playoffs for the third consecutive year.

Entering Sunday, the Chargers would have moved on with a win or a tie. In fact, given Indianapolis’ loss earlier in the day, both the Chargers and Raiders would have advanced with a tie, that odd scenario sparking much discussion around the league in advance of the kickoff.

Nearly four hours later, the exact possibility unfolded inside an Allegiant Stadium that felt both electric and breathless throughout the night.

After tying 29-29 through regulation, both teams kicked field goals on their first possessions of the extra session.

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Raiders end Chargers’ season on field goal as time expires in overtime

The Raiders’ Daniel Carlson kicked a 47-yard field goal as time expired in overtime, sending the Chargers to a heartbreaking, 35-32 loss that ends their season.

After both teams kicked field goals on their first possessions of the extra frame, Derek Carr and Josh Jacobs spearheaded the Raiders’ 46-yard drive, with Jacobs picking up 10 yards in the final seconds of the frame to put the Raiders (10-7) into field-goal position.

With some fans at Allegiant Stadium holding signs asking for a tie — which would allow both teams to reach the playoffs — Carlson secured the winning points, ensuring the Raiders of playoff date against the Cincinnati Bengals next week.

The Chargers end the season at 9-8 and miss the postseason for the third consecutive year.

Justin Herbert, who threw a touchdown pass to Mike Williams as time expired in regulation to help force overtime, completed 34 of 64 passes for 383 yards and three touchdowns with an interception. He also helped the Chargers convert on six of seven fourth-down attempts, including three on the final drive in regulation.

Williams had nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown and Austin Ekeler had two touchdowns — one rushing, one receiving — along with 64 yards rushing.

Carr completed 20 of 36 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns. Jacobs rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.

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Chargers tie game on Dustin Hopkins field in overtime

Chargers 32, Raiders 32 — 4:30 left in overtime

Dustin Hopkins kicked a 41-yard field goal for the Chargers to tie the game and keep the team’s playoff aspirations alive.

Justin Herbert — the NFL’s “Mr. Fourth Down” converted on another fourth down during the possession, connecting on a 46-yard pass to Mike Williams, who had plenty of running room before being pushed out of bounds at the Raiders 27.

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Daniel Carlson’s field goal gives Raiders overtime lead

Raiders 32, Chargers 29 — 7:09 left in overtime

Daniel Carlson kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Raiders the lead following the opening possession of overtime. It was Carlson’s fourth field goal of the game.

Can Justin Herbert and the Chargers find the end zone and stamp their postseason ticket?

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Justin Herbert and Chargers force overtime with TD as time expires

Chargers 29, Raiders 29 — End of regulation

The Chargers just pulled off the seemingly impossible, sending the final game of the 2021 NFL regular season into overtime on the penultimate play of regulation.

Justin Herbert connected with Mike Williams on a laser of a touchdown pass as time expired in the fourth quarter and Dustin Hopkins made the extra-point attempt to send the game into the extra frame, much to the chagrin of Pittsburgh Steelers fans everywhere.

The Chargers managed to convert on three fourth downs on their 19-play, 83-yard drive. Herbert completed six of 19 passes for 78 yards on the possession.

Las Vegas won the overtime coin toss. If the game ends in a tie, both teams go to the playoffs and Steelers don’t. If the Chargers win, they will play the Buffalo Bills. If they lose, their season is over.

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Incredible fourth-down TD pass vaults Chargers back into the game

Raiders 29, Chargers 22 — 4:28 left in the fourth quarter

Justin Herbert threw an incredible 23-yard touchdown dart to Joshua Palmer on fourth-and-21 before connecting with Austin Ekeler for a successful two-point conversion to vault the Chargers back into the game.

The 14-play, 75-play was sustained by a six-yard reception by Mike Williams on fourth down initially ruled just short of a first down before coach Brandon Staley challenged the placement and it was overruled on review.

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Justin Herbert throws costly interception as Raiders extend lead

Raiders 29, Chargers 14 — 8:23 left in the fourth quarter

On the heels of the Raiders’ second touchdown of the second half, Las Vegas cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. pulled off what had to be a satisfying moment against his former team.

Hayward intercepted a long pass from Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, putting an increasingly challenged Chargers defense back on the field as the clock continues to tick on the their season. Derek Carr managed the drive the Raiders 61 yards after the pick, setting up a 24-yard field goal by Daniel Carlson — his third field goal of the game.

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Raiders score another touchdown to extend lead in fourth

Raiders 26, Chargers 14 — 14:14 left in the fourth quarter

The Chargers will need to conjure some Justin Herbert fourth-quarter magic if they want to see their season to go beyond tonight.

Derek Carr connected on a two-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow to extend the Raiders’ lead early in the fourth quarter. It was Renfrow’s second touchdown of the game, and it came at the end of a 13-play, 83-yard drive that chewed more than seven minutes off the clock. A 30-yard pass from Carr to Bryan Edwards was a big part of the drive.

Las Vegas failed to convert on the two-point attempt, keeping it a two-touchdown game for the Chargers.

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Raiders extend lead after Chargers miss out on fourth-down gamble

Raiders 20, Chargers 14 — 8:03 left in the third quarter

Another gamble by coach Brandon Staley on fourth down came up snake eyes for the Chargers.

Austin Ekeler failed to convert on fourth-and-one from the Chargers’ 16-yard-line, getting tackled for a loss. The Raiders couldn’t find the end zone on the ensuing possession, but Daniel Carlson split the uprights on a 31-yard attempt to extend the Raiders’ lead.

Chargers kicker Dustin Hopkins missed a 51-yard field-goal attempt earlier in the third quarter that would have temporarily tied the game.

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Raiders take lead after Chris Harris Jr. is called for pass interference

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Chargers.
(David Becker / Associated Press)

Raiders 17, Chargers 14 — halftime

Josh Jacobs scored on a one-yard touchdown run after a costly pass interference penalty called on Chargers cornerback Chris Harris Jr. to put the Raiders back in the lead with 1:15 remaining before halftime.

Harris was called for pass interference on Raiders receiver Zay Jones in the end zone after the two players made contact. The ball, however, was nowhere near Jones when the contact occurred and despite Harris’ best efforts to plead his case, the refs didn’t reverse the call. The penalty put the Raiders on the Chargers’ one-yard line, setting up Jacobs’ run.

The Raiders’ touchdown drive also benefited from a 23-yard run by Jalen Richard.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert completed 12 of 19 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Austin Ekeler had nine catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. He also has three carries for 20 yards.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has completed nine of 16 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown.

If the Chargers win or tie, they will play the Buffalo Bills in the AFC wild-card playoffs next week. If they lose tonight, their season is over.

The Raiders also must win or tie to make the postseason.

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Austin Ekeler scores another touchdown to give Chargers the lead

Chargers 14, Raiders 10 — 1:52 left in the second quarter

Austin Ekeler deked and juked to his second touchdown of the game, transforming a short pass from Justin Herbert into a Chargers lead late in the second quarter.

The touchdown ended a 13-play, 90-yard drive that took more than seven minutes off the clock. It was Ekeler’s 20th touchdown of the season.

After coming out of the gates making some mistakes and cold on offense, the game’s momentum has swung into the Chargers’ favor. Short and medium passes from Herbert to Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Joshua Palmer, Jared Cook and Jalen Guyton fueled the Chargers’ steady march to the end zone.

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Austin Ekeler finds the end zone for the Chargers

Raiders 10, Chargers 7 — 12:42 left in the second quarter

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) runs for a touchdown.
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler runs for a touchdown against the Raiders on Sunday.
(Jeff Bottari / Associated Press)

Austin Ekeler scored on a 14-yard touchdown run, shedding a tackle at the line of scrimmage to get the Chargers onto the scoreboard.

The run capped off a 14-play, 75-yard drive that included the Chargers skipping a field-goal try and converting on fourth-and-two with a short catch by Jalen Guyton.

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Raiders capitalize on botched punt return by Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers middle linebacker Kenneth Murray tackles Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Bryan Edwards.
Chargers middle linebacker Kenneth Murray tackles Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Bryan Edwards during the first half Sunday.
(Ellen Schmidt / Associated Press)

Raiders 10, Chargers 0 — 3:14 left in the first quarter

Capitalizing on a botched punt return by the Chargers, the Raiders extended their lead when Derek Carr connected on a 12-yard pass to Hunter Renfrow late in the first quarter.

The Raiders’ Tyron Johnson forced a fumble on Andre Roberts, who had a 101-yard kickoff return last week against the Broncos, on the Raiders’ first punt of the night. Divine Deablo recovered the ball at the Chargers’ 23-yard line.

Las Vegas then converted on fourth down when Carr found Zay Jones on a two-yard pass to barely move the chains. Renfrow’s touchdown came two plays later.

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Raiders get on the scoreboard first with a field goal

Raiders 3, Chargers 0 — 10:54 left in first quarter

Daniel Carlson kicked a 24-yard field goal to give Las Vegas the early lead after the Chargers thwarted Derek Carr’s efforts to get the Raiders into the end zone.

Chargers safety Nick Adderley prevented a potential touchdown when he punched the ball out of Raiders tight end Foster Moreau’s arms on a 50-yard pass-and-catch. The ball bounced out of bounds at the Chargers’ three-yard line, giving the defense a chance to make amends after Moreau torched them.

The Chargers came through, with Asante Samuel Jr. breaking up Carr’s intended pass for Zay Jones on third down to force the field-goal try.

If the Chargers win or tie tonight, they’ll play the Buffalo Bills in the AFC wild-card playoffs next week.

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Inactives for the Chargers heading into showdown with Raiders

The Chargers are healthy as they’ve been since Week 1 entering their regular-season finale against the Raiders.

The only player on the active roster who is unavailable because of injury tonight is reserve defensive tackle Joe Gaziano (ankle).

Linebacker Drue Tranquill, who has been dealing with an ankle injury is active. Coach Brandon Staley said Friday that he expected Tranquill to be well enough to be available.

The Chargers’ other inactives are quarterback Easton Stick, offensive lineman Senio Kelemete, fullback Gabe Nabers and and running back Larry Rountree III.

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Chargers vs. Las Vegas Raiders: Betting odds, lines and predictions

Chargers (-3, O/U 49½) at Las Vegas Raiders, 5:20 p.m. PST Sunday, NBC

Tuley: For most of the season, the Chargers have been considered the better team and they won the earlier meeting 28-14 back in Week 4. However, throughout the ups and downs of the entire season, both teams are on even footing at 9-7 and this finale is pretty much a coin-flip.

As for that earlier meeting, it was a tale of two halves as the Chargers jumped out to a 21-0 lead by halftime but the Raiders pulled within 21-14 in the third quarter and had the ball in L.A. territory with a chance to tie before having to settle for a Dan Carlson 52-yard field goal attempt that failed. The Chargers put the game away with an Austin Ekeler touchdown run, but the final margin is misleading and the Raiders are capable of turning the tables.

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Cherished memories and medical scares: The story of the Never Miss a Super Bowl Club

From left to right: Gregory Eaton, Tom Henschel and Don Crisman pose with a replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Gregory Eaton, left, Tom Henschel, center, and Don Crisman pose with a replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy before Super Bowl LIV in 2020.
(Richard Gibson)

Tom Henschel woke up in New Orleans on the day of Super Bowl VI gasping for air. Unsure whether he was hung over from a night of Bourbon Street revelry or having an allergic reaction to a bowl of seafood gumbo, he stumbled out of his hotel room and onto the street, where he fell to his hands and knees.

“I couldn’t breathe,” Henschel, now 80, recalled of that scary Jan. 16, 1972, morning. “I thought I was gonna die.”

A police officer noticed Henschel in distress, loaded him into his squad car and rushed him to a hospital. The next thing Henschel remembers is waking up in the emergency room with an IV in his arm and an oxygen mask covering his mouth and nose. A nurse wheeled him to a private room and asked if she could get him anything.

“I said, ‘No, but I’m going to the game today,’ ” said Henschel, a Pittsburgh native and lifelong Steelers fan. “She said, ‘No you’re not. You’re going to have to watch it on TV here.’ As soon as she walked out of the room, I pulled the IV out, ripped off the oxygen mask, got my clothes and ran out of the hospital.”

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How Chargers and Raiders match up Sunday with a playoff spot at stake

Chargers free safety Derwin James follows a play against the Denver Broncos on Jan. 2.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

Breaking down how the Chargers (9-7) and the Las Vegas Raiders (9-7) match up heading into their game at 5:20 p.m. PST on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The game will be shown on NBC.

When Chargers have the ball: When these teams met in October, the Chargers’ offense scored 28 points but produced only one play that gained more than 22 yards. That came on a short pass tight end Stephen Anderson turned into a 34-yard gain. And that’s how teams can succeed against a Las Vegas defense that attempts to limit big plays and force offenses to be patient.

Justin Herbert finished 25 for 38 for 222 yards. The mark of 5.8 yards per attempt is his third-lowest for a game this season. Of Herbert’s six worst yards-per-attempt efforts, the Chargers have lost five, the 28-14 victory over the Raiders being the exception.

“When you go against a team like this, it doesn’t mean you won’t have big, explosive plays,” offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said. “But if you chase them too hard, you can get behind the sticks. So, you know, don’t be afraid to check the ball down.”

That could mean extensive work for running back Austin Ekeler, who scored twice against Las Vegas in the first meeting. Keenan Allen also was on the receiving end of a bunch of short Herbert passes, catching seven balls but totaling only 36 yards. Expect more of the same.

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