LAS VEGAS (AP) — Daniel Carlson’s 47-yard field goal as time expired in overtime lifted the Las Vegas Raiders past the Los Angeles Chargers 35-32 on Sunday night for their first playoff berth since 2016.
And they eliminated their AFC West rivals in the process, while helping Pittsburgh advance.
Las Vegas survived Los Angeles’ late-game comeback built on a series of fourth-down conversions to force overtime. The Chargers tied it with a 12-yard TD pass from Justin Herbert to Mike Williams as time expired in regulation.
Then each team made overtime field goals before Carlson won it. Carlson, three times the AFC special teams player of the week this season, kicked five field goals in the game.
The Raiders won a fourth straight game and completed an incredible late-season run after losing five of their previous six.
Derek Carr completed 20 of 36 pass attempts for 186 yards, including two touchdowns. Hunter Renfrow hauled in two touchdown passes, while Josh Jacobs ran for 132 yards on 26 carries, including one score.
The Raiders, who had arguably more offseason and in-season distractions than any team, overcame multiple adversities and return to the playoffs for only the second time since losing to Tampa Bay in the 2003 Super Bowl.
Had the teams tied, the Steelers would have been eliminated. Instead, Las Vegas goes to Cincinnati on Saturday to open the wild-card round, and Pittsburgh plays at Kansas City on Sunday night.
Trailing by 15 in the fourth quarter, the Chargers scored two late touchdowns, with a a 19-play, 83-yard drive capped by Herbert’s strike to Williams. Dustin Hopkins’ extra point sent the game into the extra period. Los Angeles converted on three fourth-down plays in the lengthy drive.
Herbert, who was under duress much of the night, completed 34 of his 64 attempts for 383 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
Las Vegas dominated early while taking a 10-0 lead.
Carlson booted a 24-yard field goal on the Raiders’ first possession, and after being forced to punt on its second drive, Las Vegas’ Divine Deablo recovered a fumble on special teams at the Los Angeles’ 23-yard line. Six plays later, Carr found Renfrow for a 12-yard touchdown.
Los Angeles responded behind a heavy dose of Austin Ekeler, who ran for 53 yards on nine carries and had two touchdowns in the first half. Ekeler ran 14 yards for one score and hauled in a 14-yard screen pass to give the Chargers a 14-10 lead.
Though the Chargers outgained the Raiders 180-142 in the first half, 85 yards in penalties against Los Angeles tied for the most in the first half by a Raiders opponent in the past 11 seasons. The biggest was a 41-yard defensive pass interference call against Chris Harris Jr. with 49 seconds left in the half.
Jacobs punched it in from the 1 on the next play to put Las Vegas back in front, and the Raiders’ defense stymied the Chargers’ final drive of the half.
This story will be updated throughout the game
PREGAME: Kickoff is at 5:20 p.m. at Allegiant Stadium. Raiders can clinch a playoff spot with either a win or tie against the Chargers.
FIRST QUARTER: Raiders receive the opening kickoff. Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs both in the lineup for the Raiders.
Raiders Daniel Carlson with a 24 yard field goal. RAIDERS 3, CHARGERS 0, early in quarter.
Raiders Derek Carr pass short left to Hunter Renfrow for 12 yard TD. RAIDERS 10, CHARGERS 0 late in first.
SECOND QUARTER: Chargers Austin Ekeler rushed to the left for 14 yard touchdown. RAIDERS 10, CHARGERS 7 early in quarter.
Chargers Justin Herbert passed to Austin Ekeler to the left for 14 yard touchdown. CHARGERS 14, RAIDERS 10 late in quarter.
Raiders Josh Jacobs rushed to the left for 1 yard touchdown. RAIDERS 17, CHARGERS 14 HALFTIME
THIRD QUARTER: Raiders Daniel Carlson kicks a 31 yard FG. RAIDERS 20, CHARGERS 14 early in quarter
FOURTH QUARTER: Raiders Derek Carr passed to Hunter Renfrow to the left for 2 yard touchdown. RAIDERS 26, CHARGERS 14 early in quarter.
Raiders Daniel Carlson kicked a 52-yard field goal. RAIDERS 29, CHARGERS 14 midway through quarter.
Chargers Justin Herbert passed to Joshua Palmer down the middle for 23 yard touchdown. RAIDERS 29, CHARGERS 22 late in quarter.
Charger Justin Herbert passed to Mike Williams to the left for 12 yard touchdown. RAIDERS 29, CHARGERS 29 going to OT.
OVERTIME: Raiders win toss and receive kickoff. Raiders Daniel Carlson kicked a 40-yard field goal. RAIDERS 32, CHARGERS 29.
Chargers Dustin Hopkins kicked a 41-yard field goal. RAIDERS 32, CHARGERS 32 in OT.
This is the pregame story
The Las Vegas Raiders are hoping to get star tight end Darren Waller back for their crucial season finale against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Interim coach Rich Bisaccia said Waller will be a game-time decision for the Raiders (9-7) in their showdown at home on Sunday night against the Chargers (9-7). The winner of that game is assured of a playoff spot, while the Raiders can also get in with losses by both Pittsburgh and Indianapolis.
Waller hasn’t played since getting injured in the second quarter of a win on Thanksgiving at Dallas. He was set to try to come back last week before testing positive for COVID-19 but now has a chance on Sunday night after being limited in practice all week.
“We’re really just waiting for each morning to show up to see what his soreness level is and how he feels that he could possibly get through it,” Bisaccia said. “If he does go and play for us, we’re certainly going to be cognizant of where his cardio is and take as much information from him, not only in the game, but we have from practice as well to the reps that he gets.”
The Raiders have won the past three weeks without Waller to remain in contention but the offense has averaged only 16 points per game in the five full games he has missed in this stretch.
Waller has caught more passes (243) from quarterback Derek Carr than any other player in Carr’s career and would provide a major boost to the offense.
Despite missing six-plus games this season, Waller is still second on the Raiders with 53 catches and 643 yards to go along with his two TDs. Since becoming the starting tight end for the Raiders in 2019, Waller ranks second in the NFL at the position with 250 catches for 2,984 yards.
Bisaccia also said running back Josh Jacobs (ribs) and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (back) are questionable for Sunday after being limited in practice.
Jacobs got hurt last week at Indianapolis but returned to the game, while Hankins has missed the last two games.
Cornerback Casey Hayward was added to the injury report with an ankle injury Friday and is also questionable.