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Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr tries to get away from Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Jerry Tillery during the first half of a game Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif.

Updated Monday, Oct. 4, 2021 | 8:47 p.m.

Los Angeles — 

The Raiders took their season-long tendency for slow starts too far Monday night at SoFi Stadium.

Early sluggishness finally came back to get the best of them, as they couldn’t fully erase a first-half, three-touchdown hole in a 28-14 loss to the Chargers. The Raiders had overcome deficits to win each of their first three games but couldn’t do the same against the Chargers to fall to 3-1 on the year.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert threw for three touchdowns in the first half, putting the Raiders down a season-high 21 points early in their AFC West divisional opener.

Las Vegas had only 49 yards and one first down at halftime, but finally began to find some offense in the third quarter. Derek Carr threw a pair of touchdown passes, first to Hunter Renfrow and then to Darren Waller, to make the score 21-14.

Las Vegas’ defense got two stops to start the second half and nearly had a third, but Los Angeles decided to go for a 4th-and-2 conversion from the 50-yard line. Raider linebacker Denzel Perryman had tight coverage on the Chargers’ Jared Cook, but the veteran tight end came down with a jump ball anyway.

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler scored his second touchdown of the night shortly after to regain a 28-14 lead. The Raiders went hurry-up on offense in hopes of another late comeback, but Carr threw an interception to Derwin James with three minutes remaining to all but seal his team’s fate.

Despite the third-quarter flurry, Las Vegas was soundly beaten by Los Angeles, which racked up a 25-13 first-down edge and 382-213 first-down advantage.

Ekeler and Herbert both had big games with the former putting up 145 combined passing and receiving yards. Herbert completed 25 of 38 attempts for 222 yards and three touchdowns.

Carr cooled after his torrid start to the season, managing only 196 yards on 21-for-34 passing.

Check back later for more coverage of the Raiders’ loss and read live updates below.

Chargers regain two-touchdown lead

Former Raider Jared Cook issued a crippling blow to the team’s comeback hopes at SoFi Stadium.

The Raiders almost had the Chargers stopped around midfield with the chance to get the ball back for a potential game-tying drive but the home team decided to go for a fourth-down conversion. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert lofted a pass to Cook, who pulled it down for 13 yards over Denzel Perryman on 4th-and-2 to prolong the drive.

Los Angeles scored six plays later when Austin Ekeler ran up the middle for an 11-yard gain to make the score 28-14.

It was Ekeler’s second touchdown of the night, giving him a rushing score to go with an earlier catch for six points. Herbert bumped up his passing total to 222 yards on 25-for-38 passing.

Raiders cut Chargers’ lead to 21-14

The Raiders have made it a game in the third quarter at SoFi Stadium.

Las Vegas has now scored on back-to-back drives to start the second half, cutting the Los Angeles Chargers’ lead down to 21-14. Darren Waller just caught the latest touchdown, an 8-yard pass from Derek Carr. The scoring drive lasted just more than three minutes, covering 81 yards on six plays.

They key gain didn’t come from a play but rather a 45-yard pass interference penalty. Derek Carr attempted to go deep to Henry Ruggs on rookie cornerback Assante Samuel Jr., who didn’t allow the Raiders’ second-year receiver a chance to get to the ball.

Raiders open second half with a touchdown

The Raiders’ offense is alive.

Las Vegas went 78 yards on 11 plays in just less than six minutes to score its first points of the night to start the second half. The Raiders still trail the Chargers 21-7 but they finally moved the ball and have some reasons for optimism going forward.

Derek Carr keyed the drive and got a touchdown pass to finish it, a 10-yard strike to Hunter Renfrow in the middle of the end zone. Los Angeles assisted the march down the field with a pair of penalties including a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct.

Ugly first half for Raiders

The Raiders have less than 50 total yards and one first down at halftime against the Chargers.

Things couldn’t have gone worse for Las Vegas at SoFi Stadium, where Los Angeles holds a 21-0 lead. Austin Ekeler caught the latest touchdown pass, the third from Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, with 28 seconds remaining in the first half.

Ekeler went right down the sideline, catching the pass over the shoulder with K.J. Wright in coverage. Las Vegas lost two cornerbacks — Trayvon Mullen and Damon Arnette — to injury in the first half.

The well-executed two-minute drill was just the latest example of Herbert’s first-half mastery. The reigning Rookie of the Year has completed 20 of 25 passes for 175 yards.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, by contrast, has gone 7-for-13 for 19 yards. The Chargers’ defensive front has dominated the Raiders’ offensive line to cause a bevy of issues.

Former Raider Jared Cook scores for Chargers

The Raiders trail 14-0 in the first half against the Chargers in a game where they haven’t been able to move the ball at all through 20 minutes.

Las Vegas’ defense has played well but Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert just found tight end Jared Cook on a tough-to-defend pass that went for a 10-yard touchdown on third-down.

The Chargers hold a 10-1 edge on first downs, and a 179-40 tally on total yardage. This is nothing new for the Raiders, which have gotten off to slow starts all year and were also down two touchdowns in the first half earlier this year on Monday Night Football.

But they can’t wait much longer to get going, and it may start with better protection along the offensive line. Quarterback Derek Carr hasn’t had enough time to operate.

Offenses struggle to find rhythm

The Raiders have one first down in five possessions. The Chargers have one touchdown in five possessions.

That’s the difference in the game midway through the second quarter. It’s been all defense at SoFi Stadium, as the Raiders’ offensive line hasn’t been able to hold up against the Chargers’ pass rush led by Joey Bosa and Jerry Tillery.

The Raiders have made some defensive plays, including most recently a tackle for loss by Carl Nassib, to keep the Chargers backed up since their first drive but the offense needs to supplement with some production of its own.

Chargers score early touchdown

For the third time in four games, the Raiders trail in the first quarter.

The Chargers went 75 yards in 12 plays and just less than seven minutes on their first possession, scoring on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Justin Herbert to tight end Donald Parham. Herbert went 6-for-6 on the drive passing while Austin Ekeler broke loose for an 18-yard run to get into the red zone before limping off the field with an apparent injury.

Kickoff delayed

A thunderstorm is rolling through Los Angeles, delaying the kickoff of Monday Night Football by at least 30 minutes.

Lightning has struck multiple times visible from the opening end of SoFi Stadium, even causing technical problems with the $5 billion venue’s ceiling-spanning screen.

The Raiders and Chargers are now back in their locker rooms with a targeted start time of 5:55 p.m.

Josh Jacobs and Alec Ingold will play

The Raiders are as healthy as they’ve been all season going into tonight’s Monday Night Football game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium.

The team just released their inactive list, which confirmed as much when neither running back Josh Jacobs nor fullback Alec Ingold were listed. Jacobs was listed as questionable coming into tonight after missing the last two games with ankle and toe injuries, while Ingold was a late addition to the injury report with a shoulder ailment.

Both will play, leaving no surprises among an inactives list that consisted of defensive end Malcolm Koonce, tackle Jackson Barton, tight end Nick Bowers and defensive tackle Damion Square.

Pregame

The Las Vegas Raiders’ first time on Monday Night Football this year, a 33-27 overtime win against the Ravens in Week 1, went down as one of the most memorable NFL games of the early season. Las Vegas’ second, and final, Monday night appearance this season shapes up to be just as closely contested. The LA Chargers always seem to have a flair for the dramatic, a which held true in last year’s pair of matchups with the Raiders. Both games came down to the final play, with Las Vegas winning 31-26 in Los Angeles and the Chargers returning the favor with a 30-27 overtime win at Allegiant Stadium. Much has changed with the Chargers since then, including a new coaching staff led by former LA Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley. The Raiders are different, too, with a revamped defense that’s been one of the NFL’s better stop units. But these old rivals still look evenly matched, and ready for another chapter in what’s recently been a tight series.

• Who: Raiders (3-0) at Chargers (2-1)

• When: 5:15 p.m.

• Where: SoFi Stadium

• TV: ESPN

• Radio: Raider Nation Radio 920 AM, KOMP 92.3

• Betting line: Chargers -3, over/under 51.5

Favorable matchup: Tight end Darren Waller vs. Chargers’ defensive backs

Tight ends have given the Chargers trouble for years, and even with a new scheme, the problem seems to have persisted. They gave up a touchdown to Washington’s Logan Thomas in a 20-17 Week 1 win before letting Kansas City’s Travis Kelce run wild and erase their halftime lead last week. The Chargers ultimately upset the Chiefs 30-24, but a two-game winning streak will be tough to come by if they let Waller match or surpass Kelce’s seven-catch, 104-yard stat line. In last year’s second game against the Chargers, Waller went off for 150 yards and a touchdown on 12 receptions. He’s been relatively quiet the past two weeks — totaling 10 catches for 119 yards — as the Raiders have prioritized other receivers. But there’s no question the team’s offense runs through Waller and that coaches would prefer to get back to him more often in the first AFC West game of the season.

“You hear that dun-dun-dun, and as a kid, you always dream of playing on Monday night. I think whenever that becomes boring to me or becomes whatever, I think it’s time to go home. I still get so excited for the game. I still get so overjoyed in my heart that I get to do this.” -Carr on playing on Monday Night Football

•••

“So far, so good, but you can’t write a book after three games. We’ve got a long way to go until we truly define who we are and what we are. We’ve got to play better.” -Gruden on the Raiders’ 3-0 start

•••

“I feel like I’m a playmaker. I can make plays with the best in this league no matter who they are or what their name is.” -Wide receiver Henry Ruggs III on his recent hot streak that’s totaled nine catches for 191 yards over the last two games

•••

“With Henry being my teammate, I expected I should get a free pair. I really do like the shoe. It’s a real smooth look. I’m definitely going to have to holler at him about getting a free pair.” – Wide receiver Bryan Edwards on Ruggs’ recent Adidas shoe release

Problematic matchup: Chargers’ offensive line vs. Raiders’ defensive front

The Raiders’ four down linemen have terrorized all three opponents they’ve played so far, but they’ve been fortunate to encounter nothing but injured, in-flux offensive lines. That changes this week. Second-year quarterback Justin Herbert and his uber-talented receiving corps, led by Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, get most of the credit but the Chargers’ offensive success has started with one of the league’s best pass-blocking groups. Chargers center Corey Linsley is coming off his first All-Pro season and is on pace to receive the honor again this year. First-round pick rookie tackle Rashawn Slater has transitioned much quicker to the NFL than Las Vegas counterpart Alex Leatherwood. The matchup between Slater and Las Vegas’ Yannick Ngakoue, who doesn’t yet have a sack but has provided consistent pressure, might be the most important every-down battle to watch in the game.

Gamebreaker: Quarterback Derek Carr

Sometimes the obvious choice is the right choice. Carr is finally getting his due with the Raiders’ hot start to the season, as he was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month for September after leading the league with 1,203 passing yards. He can’t slow down if Las Vegas wants to keep winning. The Raiders eventually got their rush game going late in last week’s 31-28 victory against the Miami Dolphins, but still only mustered 4 yards per carry. With the offensive line struggling and lead back Josh Jacobs injured, the Raiders are going to continue to throw on an inordinate number of plays. And why not? Carr has skyrocketed into the MVP discussion by averaging 8.8 yards per attempt and throwing deep more efficiently than anyone in the NFL. The Raiders can compete with, and beat, any team in the league if Carr can maintain his current level.

Big number: 129

That’s the league-high number of consecutive snaps Las Vegas cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. played this season before allowing a completion, according to Pro Football Focus. And when the former Charger finally did allow one, he tackled Dolphins receiver Jaylen Waddle for a 1-yard loss and a safety last week. Hayward went on to allow two more completions against the Dolphins, but neither were for significant yardage. The 32-year-old was a two-time Pro Bowler with the Chargers, but he’s arguably had the best three-game stretch of his career in the start to his tenure with the Raiders. Hayward’s not satisfied, however, and says there are things he can sharpen with his technique. With likely matchups against both Allen and Williams throughout the game, Las Vegas will be counting on Hayward to prolong his terrific start.

Best Bet (2-1): Bryan Edwards over 2.5 receptions

This requires paying a little higher price than the typical -110 (risking $1.10 to win $1) or -115 on player props but can be found as low as -120. That’s a bargain and a number that doesn’t capture how big of a role the Raiders expect Edwards to play in their offense going forward. He’s already been consistent, catching at least three passes in every game, and will only get a larger share of the targets going forward. The second-year receiver started asking for the ball down the stretch of the Dolphins’ game, and Carr was rewarded when he obliged. Edwards is unique in that he’s mostly known for being a physical receiver capable of pulling down contested balls but is also quick enough to be a downfield threat. Give it a month and Edwards’ over/under for receptions may be set at 3.5 every game.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

Article written by #LasVegasSun

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