INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Justin Herbert won’t mind getting equal billing with Khalil Mack if it keeps producing wins.
Herbert had the 13th three-touchdown pass game of his young, prolific career, and Mack had three sacks in his Chargers debut as Los Angeles beat the Las Vegas Raiders 24-19 on Sunday.
“I thought the defense played really well throughout the game. They came up with some big plays when we needed it the most,” said Herbert, who completed 26 of 34 passes for 279 yards. “I think a great thing that we do is we’re able to shuffle guys around and play multiple positions. We had some receivers step up.”
All three of Herbert’s TDs were caught by players making their debut in Powder Blue. The defense also got contributions from newcomers after a busy offseason by general manager Tom Telesco and coach Brandon Staley. Besides Mack, who was acquired in a trade with Chicago, free-agent signing Bryce Callahan picked off Derek Carr in the fourth quarter.
Los Angeles, which won its opener for the fourth straight year, also avenged last season’s finale, which Las Vegas won on a field goal in the final seconds of overtime to knock the Chargers out of a playoff spot.
Josh McDaniels became the fourth straight Raiders coach to lose his debut.
Carr was 22 of 37 for 295 yards and two touchdowns but was picked off three times. He connected 10 times with former Fresno State teammate Davante Adams, who was acquired from Green Bay in the offseason. Adams had 141 receiving yards, including a 2-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“Obviously, it’s difficult to win, and when you lose the turnover margin the way that we did and give them opportunities. They took advantage of some of those (opportunities), especially there in the second quarter,” McDaniels said. “I like the way our team fought. I respect the fact that we made it a game. We can do a lot better than what we did.”
Herbert had a 129.4 passer rating despite Keenan Allen leaving with a hamstring injury in the first half and Mike Williams not having a catch until the fourth quarter.
Herbert completed passes to nine players, with five having three or more receptions.
Fullback Zander Horvath, a seventh-round pick, and DeAndre Carter scored in the second quarter to give the Chargers a 17-3 lead at halftime.
“As soon as I went out, DeAndre came out making plays,” said Allen, who had four receptions for 66 yards. “That’s what you like to see, offense didn’t stall at all. They kept things moving.”
Gerald Everett had an 18-yard TD reception midway through the third quarter where he dragged Raiders safety Roderic Teamer the final 3 yards into the end zone to make it 24-10.
Carter and Everett each had three catches. Carter had 64 yards and Everett 54.
“All of the receivers that had to step up when Keenan goes out, those guys holding the rope for us, I thought that was really, really big in the game,” Staley said. “On defense, I think you saw that it’s going to take a village to defend against a team like that; in the secondary, at linebacker, rushing inside. I thought you saw all of that depth on display.”
TOUGH DAY FOR CARR
Carr was picked off three times for the third time in his nine-year career. It previously happened in the 2018 opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
“I came in with a very aggressive mindset, especially with all the weapons we have and all that kind of stuff. That’s on me. That’s decisions, being way too aggressive in certain moments,” he said.
Carr’s other TD pass came on the opening drive of the second half when he found Brandon Bolden open in single coverage for an 18-yard score up the left sideline.
NEW-LOOK DEFENSE STEPS UP
The Chargers had six sacks and three interceptions in an opener for the first time 2007. It was Mack’s second three-sack game of his nine-year career.
“I would say we just had to knuckle up and understand who they had on the other side of the ball, especially Derek,” Mack said. “The coverage guys were doing an excellent job. It has been a while since I got coverage sacks. They were balling.”
The Bolts had three players get picks in an opener for the first time since 1966, when they were in the American Football League. Drue Tranquill’s interception set up Carter’s touchdown late in the second quarter.
Asante Samuel Jr. and Callahan got their interceptions on consecutive fourth-quarter drives. Samuel’s came on a bomb intended for Adams that the second-year cornerback grabbed at the LA 2-yard line. Callahan jumped a route on a ball intended for Darren Waller.
Raiders: C Andre James left in an ambulance following the game and was being evaluated for a concussion, the team said. … CB Anthony Averett suffered a thumb injury in the first half and did not return. … S Tre’von Moehrig (hip) was injured in the third quarter and did not return.
Raiders: Host the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday.
Chargers: At Kansas City on Thursday night.
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