Raiders' domination at the line of scrimmage defensively leads to crucial win

For the first time since 2016, the Oakland Raiders had a player generate 10 quarterback pressures, and it came courtesy of rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby, but he wasn’t the only player on the defensive line to have a big day.

From the first snap to the last, the Raiders defensive line lived in Philip Rivers personal bubble, making him uncomfortable all night long. The Silver and Black sacked Rivers five times Thursday, 2.5 coming from Clelin Ferrell, 1.5 from Benson Mayowa — who set a new career-high with seven in the process — and Maxx Crosby and Maurice Hurst Jr. each tallying half-a-sack.

The pass rush was the key to victory Thursday, as the Raiders forced Rivers into making questionable throws, which led to turnovers, including a pick-six from Erik Harris — his second this season. It was undeniably the best performance the Raiders have seen all year from the pass rush, and the defensive line knew it would need to attack vigorously on every snap to make a difference in the outcome of this game particularly.

“He’s a great quarterback and the thing with him is you got to be in his face all game, and try to get him flustered,” Crosby said postgame. “I feel like we did a good job of that and we just kept coming all game until the final whistle blew… honestly he gets rid of the ball real quick. He’s a tough quarterback and we just kept coming all day, so it was a big win.”

Thursday night’s 26-24 win over the Chargers marked the Raiders’ first win over the team since 2017, as they were unable to defeat their AFC West rival in 2018. The Silver and Black hosted the Detroit Lions a mere four days ago, and it’s understandable that the team could’ve been tired on a short week, but this wasn’t a game they could drop.

“We didn’t get much rest, but we came out and had to grind for that win,” Crosby said. “Playing a quarterback who’s as good as Philip Rivers and it’s huge coming out with a win.”

On top of fatigue setting in as the game progressed, the Raiders defense was playing without several of its key contributors. Second-year defensive end Arden Key is out for the year with a broken foot, but his teammates stepped up in his stead.

“To me, anytime you play a great quarterback like Philip Rivers or [Matt] Stafford or any of these guys if you let them stand back there, you’re in trouble,” Coach Gruden told the media following the win. “I thought we had a good rush, great energy tonight. We were shorthanded. We didn’t have [Nicholas] Morrow. Arden Key broke his foot. We only had seven defensive linemen. I credit [defensive coordinator Paul] Guenther. He did a hell of a job with the scheme. Really good work.”

As Coach Gruden pointed out, Paul Guenther was working with minimal options, but he made the most of them and brought a handful of different looks to try and confuse the wily vet.

Fortunately for the Raiders, the team will get a mini-bye and have 10 days to rest up until they’re back at the Coliseum playing host to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11 action. The matchup with the Bengals looks like a tantalizing for the defensive line, considering they’ve surrounded the seventh most sacks in the NFL this season with 29.

And now sitting at 5-4, the Raiders are very much locked into the playoff hunt.

Check out all the sights from before kickoff of the Raiders' Week 10 matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday Night Football.

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