Los Angeles’s playoff fate Sunday depended on a Tennessee Titans loss and handling their own business against the Oakland Raiders. The Chargers triumphed in a 30-10 rout over their California rivals at the StubHub Center, but their celebrations came to a halt after learning the Titans had defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 15-10, eliminating the Chargers from playoff contention with a 9-7 record.
“You’re a little bit disappointed. Shoot, a lot disappointed,” Rivers said. “You kick yourself that you put yourself in this situation where you needed help, and you know you let some games get away that you never should have. That’s where it hurts the most, because we’re a pretty hot team that’s going home.”
The Chargers looked like a playoff team over three quarters of the season, but an 0-4 start was too steep of a whole to climb from, as no team since the 1970 Chargers have been able to sneak into the playoffs after such a start.
“We’re still holding our head high man, it’s just momentum into the next season,” said Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram after getting ten sacks on the season.
“We went out there and just laid it out on the line and just always believed in ourselves. We’re gonna keep grinding, keep grinding, we’re building something around here and it’s gonna be special, I promise you that.”
Chargers first-year head coach, Anthony Lynn was nothing but positive after game, realizing the potential his team has in the coming years.
“I think this team can become a championship team,” Lynn said. “That’s what I believe. I don’t think that, I believe. They showed me that throughout the season. I wish it would have happened a little sooner, but I think we’re trending in the right direction. I think we’re onto something.”
“I feel really good about our future here with the Chargers and our ownership with Dean, Angie and John … how committed they are to winning a championship. I feel really encouraged about moving forward with this organization and the things that we can accomplish in the future.”
Although there we’re no scores from Los Angeles and Oakland in the first quarter, Rivers reached 50,000 passing yards for his career, joining an elite group where only eight other quarterbacks in NFL history who have done so.
Rivers went 28-of-37 for 387 yards and three touchdowns, as the 36 six-year old quarterback connected with his favorite target throughout the game and over the entire course of the season.
Keenan Allen caught nine passes for 133 yards and scored one touchdown.
The first score of the game came by Allen, but it was not an completion from Rivers at all, instead being a ball that was plucked out of running back Melvin Gordon’s hands, into the air, finding Allen’s hands, as he took it 27 yards for the touchdown.
“That was crazy,” Allen said. “I looked up and the ball was coming to me. I’ve never had a play like that.”
Allen finished the season with 102 catches setting a franchise record, while his 1,393 yards receiving is the second most in team history.
Los Angeles’s lead did not last long, as on the Raiders next possession, Derek Carr hit Amari Cooper for an 87-yard touchdown that tied the score at 7-7.
Oakland took a brief 10-7 lead in the second quarter, only before Rivers connected with Tyrell Williams for a 56-yard touchdown pass.
Rivers connected with Allen for a six-yard touchdown strike to end the second quarter.
Already up 23-10 in the fourth quarter, Rivers hit wide receiver Travis Benjamin for an 62-yard touchdown, putting the game away at 30-10.
Los Angeles ended the season on a bright note, winning nine of their final 12 games, hoping to see that same rhythm early on next season.
“Just have that same passion, same momentum, we’re a savvy team at the helm, it’s gonna be a great season for us next year,” said Benjamin who finished four catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.
For the Raiders, they ended their season with a 6-10 record, and wasted no time on making changes for next year, as they fired head coach Jack Del Rio.
“Today was kind of a microcosm of our season,” Del Rio said Sunday. “The opportunities and lack of production really not good enough, really disappointing.”
Raiders owner Mark Davis released a statement, saying “We appreciate Jack’s effort in building the foundation of this team for the future. Thank you to Jack, his wife, Linda, and his daughter, Aubrey, for their important contributions to the Raiders and our local community in Oakland. We wish them all the best.”