The Los Angeles Chargers defense rattled the Las Vegas Raiders early, holding Derek Carr and his offense to just 51 total yards and one first down on seven first-half possessions Monday night. Then L.A. withstood a comeback by swallowing up Vegas in the fourth quarter, forcing a missed field-goal attempt and an interception in the 28-14 victory.
Star pass rusher Joey Bosa said the key to slowing a heretofore potent Raiders offense was flattening Carr.
"We knew once we hit him a few times, he really gets shook," Bosa said. "And you saw on [Christian Covington's] sack, he was pretty much curling into a ball before we even got back there. Great dude, great player ... but we know once you get pressure on him, he kind of shuts down."
The Chargers sacked Carr four times and landed seven QB hits.
L.A. swarmed Carr early, getting two first-half sacks, including Bosa's QB-strip that ended Vegas' second possession. Christian Covington, Kyler Fackrell, and Jerry Tillery also seated the Raiders quarterback.
Carr generated only 196 passing yards (84.9 passer rating) in Week 4 after averaging 401 passing YPG (most in NFL) with a 101.4 passer rating in Weeks 1-3.
Pretty much all QBs wither under pressure -- ever hear about Tom Brady and inside pressure? Carr is no different. And with the Raiders insistent on establishing Josh Jacobs and the run early, the Vegas offense was a mess against an excellent Chargers defense.
Carr did look rattled at times Monday night, tossing several balls behind targets. But the idea that pressure completely cooks Carr isn't backed up by the other three games this season in which he was hit six times, five times and nine times, respectively, and still managed to make plays to get his team to 3-0. He couldn't conjure the magic Monday night against this defense.
Including Monday's four sacks, the Raiders QB has been taken down 12 times on the season, tied for third-most in the NFL.
Bosa and the Chargers proved why they are one of the best defenses in the NFL in coach Brandon Staley's system. The front end and the back end complement each other perfectly. When the rush is on, the front can dominate -- Tillery was awesome for long stretches of MNF -- and create havoc in the backfield. When the rush slows, the back end is a sticky menace. And when they work in concert, playing with the lead, the unit feels impermeable at times.