Quarterback Derek Carr
Before the Oakland Raiders traveled to San Diego for their Week 15 clash with the Chargers, we took an early look at three matchups that would be critical in determining the result between the AFC rivals.
The Silver and Black – in front of a decidedly pro-Raiders crowd by the way – took care of business, taking down the Chargers 19-16, which guaranteed Head Coach Jack Del Rio's squad a trip to the postseason.
Now that the win over the Bolts is squarely in the rearview mirror, let's review those matchups, and see how they played out.
Cornerback Sean Smith vs. Wide Receiver Tyrell Williams
Heading into Sunday's showdown at Qulalcomm Stadium, Tyrell Williams led the Chargers in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns, and had really emerged as a reliable weapon for the Rivers and the injury-riddled San Diego offense in 2016.
However, give defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.'s group credit, while Rivers did come out of the gates hot, punctuating the opening drive of the game with a 47-yard strike to Travis Benjamin, outside of that, No. 17 was held primarily in check.
That opening drive aside, Rivers threw for just 124 yards, and while he did find the end zone once again, he also threw the game-clinching interception to Reggie Nelson with just under two minutes left in regulation.
Williams also wasn't able to leave much of an imprint on the Week 15 game, finishing his day with just four catches for 20 yards.
Running Back Latavius Murray vs. Inside Linebacker Denzel Perryman
I don't know if it was the crisp San Diego air or what, but the Tay Train left the station with a vengeance Sunday afternoon at Qualcomm Stadium.
The Raiders Pro Bowl running back paced the Silver and Black's ground attack with 13 runs for 81 yards, boasting an impressive 6.2 yards per carry.
In addition to Murray, the Raiders were able to call upon their full complement of running backs against the Chargers, as both Jalen Richard and DeAndé Washington both got their fair share of touches out of the backfield as well.
In total, the Raiders were able to tally 145 rushing yards en route to their 19-16 win over the Chargers – their most since Week 9 – and that ability to effectively pound the rock paid dividends for the offensive group as a whole, particularly at the end of the first half.
"It was a big win for us," said Murray postgame. "We are playoff bound and that is what it is all about, that is what we wanted. We are going to go back to Oakland very happy."
On the other side of the ball, while Perryman did deliver one impressive tackle for loss, that turned out to be his biggest impact on the game, as he finished his day with just four total tackles.
Quarterback Derek Carr vs. Quarterback Philip Rivers
Neither of the two quarterbacks delivered their most statistically-dominant performance Sunday afternoon, but that's fine, you didn't hear Derek Carr complaining about his lack of numbers postgame.
"Stats are fun for people to look at and try to compare, but we just want to win," Carr explained. "I promise, there is something in everyone in that locker room and I think that's why we win. Our mindset is we just want to go out there, do our job and help the man next to us so that we can win."
Not only did Carr and the Raiders fly back to Oakland Sunday night with a win – as well as a playoff berth – in tow, but No. 4 also edged out Rivers statistically as well. In total, the Raiders signal-caller completed 19 passes for 213 yards, and one touchdown, and while he did throw an interception – just his sixth of the season – the Chargers were unable to get any points off the turnover.
As far as Rivers is concerned, the veteran quarterback completed 17 passes for 206 yards, and a pair of touchdowns, but his late-game interception ended up being the nail in the coffin for the Bolts.