This wasn’t a rivalry game. Not after a torrid start for the Oakland Raiders.
Derek Carr threw three touchdown passes, including a nifty 52-yarder to Amari Cooper, and Oakland turned two interceptions of Philip Rivers into 10 points on its way to a 37-29 victory over the Chargers on Sunday in what could be the last showdown between the AFC West foes played in San Diego.
It was the first meeting of the Raiders (3-3) and Chargers (2-5) since their owners announced plans to build a $1.7 billion stadium in an industrial Los Angeles suburb if they can’t get new stadiums in their home markets.
Coming off a bye, the Raiders looked quicker and more efficient. They scored on their first seven drives and kept the Chargers out of the end zone until the fourth quarter.
Cooper, the first-round draft pick out of Alabama, caught a short pass from Carr on an inside screen and raced through the defense to give the Raiders a 30-3 lead just before halftime. He finished with five catches for 133 yards.
Carr, the second-year pro out of Fresno State, also threw touchdown passes of 23 yards to Clive Walford and 25 yards to Michael Crabtree. Carr was 24 of 31 for 289 yards.
The Raiders didn’t have to punt until midway through the third quarter.
The Chargers got in trouble right away in their third consecutive loss.
Oakland’s Malcolm Smith intercepted a tipped pass on the game’s third play and returned to the San Diego 2. Latavius Murray scored on a 1-yard run two plays later.
Sebastian Janikowski kicked the first of his three field goals, from 29 yards, and Carr found Walford for an easy 23-yard score and a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter.
Two plays into the next San Diego drive, Rivers tried to force a pass to Keenan Allen and it was picked off by DJ Hayden, giving the Raiders the ball at the Chargers 31. Janikowski kicked a 32-yard field goal.
The Chargers played without star tight end Antonio Gates (knee) and safety Eric Weddle (groin), and rookie running back Melvin Gordon was benched for the first half, apparently more punishment for his two fumbles in a gut-wrenching 27-20 loss at Green Bay. Gordon was benched for the second half of that game after losing one of the two fumbles. He has lost three of four fumbles this season.
The Chargers’ future in San Diego is uncertain. They walked away from negotiations with city and county officials for a new stadium in mid-June and have been focusing on getting to Los Angeles. The Chargers and Raiders apparently were spooked into action after St. Louis owner Stan Kroenke announced plans for a stadium in Inglewood.
Rivers, who threw for a career-high 503 yards a week earlier in Green Bay, was 38 of 58 for 336 yards. He had scoring passes of 31 yards to Ladarius Green and 8 and 6 yards to Danny Woodhead, all in the fourth quarter.