CARSON – The Raiders were down 17 points midway through the third quarter, desperately needing a productive drive to get back in the game.
That happened. They marched 74 yards to the L.A. Chargers' one-yard line.
First-and-goal screams for Marshawn Lynch, a rough-and-tumble, never-say-die runner who is excellent in short-yardage situations.
The handoff to him, however, was fake. The Raiders ran a play action pass, instead hoping tight end Lee Smith would get free for an easy touchdown. The blocking tight end was covered well.
Quarterback Derek Carr went to his second option. Tight end Derek Carrier was running laterally across the middle, and Carr threw a fastball his direction. One problem: Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram got in the way.
The Chargers edge rusher intercepted it easily, and ruined the Raiders' best chance to get back in the game.
"I wasn't trying to force it or anything like that," Carr said. "I saw our guy win down the back line and I tried to get it to him. I was trying to make a play. That's the one I wish I could have back."
Head coach Jon Gruden wishes he would have thrown that one away, but defended the play call itself.
"We haven't thrown the ball in a goal-to-go situation all year. The decision there was to throw it," head coach Jon Gruden said. "If it isn't open, you throw it away. It didn't work out. …Obviously that will be second-guessed, and rightfully so.
We should have made that throw down there, and I'll live to hand the ball off on the next play, possibly."
Most expected Lynch to get the ball there. Gruden looked for the element of surprise.
"First-and-goal at the 1, faking to Lynch has been a great call for a lot of years," Gruden said. "I think (Carr) just presses at moments, and he knows we have to do a lot with the ball when we have it. I think that's what happened today."
Carr knows that he has to will this team to victory, especially when the Chargers were taking yards in chunks and scoring regularly.
He also admits that pressing, trying too hard, is a fault in his wiring.
"You have to tell me to calm down before you have to get me going," Carr said. "That's always been a problem…well, it's not a problem but it's a weakness. I've often tried to do too much. It's not out of a bad heart. I just want to win so bad. Sometimes it gets me caught up, like it did today on a bad play. …It's not a lack of effort. It's just me trying to force something or win the game right there, and I don't have to do that."