Much like the nature of the game itself, there was very little wiggle room for Philip Rivers to operate with against the Oakland Raiders' defensive line on Thursday night.
The Week 10 opener saw four lead changes, 20 total penalties -- 12 of which went against the Raiders -- and neither team play very efficiently on third down (LAC: 3-10, OAK: 4-12), factors that, in the end, made for a situation where Oakland was in need of a defensive stop to secure a 26-24 win.
That stop came when the Chargers quarterback threw his third interception with 27 seconds remaining, a turnover some may credit to the pressure of being down on the road in front of a hostile crowd. Yes, the situation could've been the catalyst for the veteran QB not completing a pass and turning the ball over on the final drive but it's really the Raiders' pass rush who deserves the bulk of the credit for rattling Rivers (five sacks, fumble, 2-3 TD-to-INT ratio) all night.
While the D-line as a whole played well even with a few key guys sidelined, a pair of interesting names emerged as leaders for DC Paul Guenther's crew: rookie DEs Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell, both of whom made Next Gen Stats analysts proud with their all-around effort.
"A lot of people have been doubting us and we just have been working every single day. It was great, we just got to keep doing it every single week," Crosby told NFL Network's MJ Acosta of Oakland's defense after the game. The 2019 fourth-round pick registered 10 pressures -- the most by any Raiders defender since 2016 -- and forced two INTs from pressure on 60 of a possible 66 snaps.
Moments later, the one-on-one interview briefly added a second voice when Ferrell dropped by to bestow the tandem of him and Crosby with a nickname.
"Salt and pepper baby, salt and pepper. The game needed flavor, so we gave it to 'em," Ferrell excitedly shouted.
To this point, the 2019 fourth overall pick had not been lighting up box scores with gaudy numbers (three pass deflections, 1 sack, 15 combined tackles entering Week 10) but Ferrell's play against the Chargers, an outing coach Jon Gruden dubbed his "signature game," reminded his critics of his impact. He registered five QB pressures, 2.5 sacks, eight combined tackles and two tackles for a loss on 51 snaps.
"Sack totals are driving me nuts. He does a lot more than just rush the passer," Gruden said of Ferrell. "He made some great plays against the run. It was a signature game for him, obviously, but it's great for him to get some sacks."
The lasting memory of Thursday night's Raiders win will be Josh Jacobs' game-winning touchdown run but the number the D-line did on Rivers in this one shouldn't go unnoticed, something Gruden would tell you himself.
"Any time you play a great quarterback like Philip Rivers or Matthew] Stafford or any of these guys, if you let 'em stand back there you're in trouble. I thought we had a good rush, great energy tonight," Gruden said. "We were short-handed, we didn't have [DE Josh] Mauro, [linebacker] [Arden Key broke his foot, we only had seven D-linemen. I credit Guenther, he did a hell of a job with the scheme. Really good work."