Chargers' Herbert throws three TDs to hand Raiders first loss

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert celebrates against the Las Vegas Raiders during the second half at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles (AFP/Katelyn Mulcahy)
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Justin Herbert threw three touchdowns and running back Austin Ekeler rushed for 117 yards as the Los Angeles Chargers handed the Las Vegas Raiders their first loss of the NFL season with a 28-14 win on Monday.

Herbert set the NFL rookie record of 31 touchdown passes last season and he has now tossed seven in his last two games including the three over the Raiders in the battle of AFC West rivals who are showing signs of being serious playoff contenders.

Derek Carr, who came into the game as the league's leader in passing yards, threw two touchdowns for the Raiders, who dropped to 3-1 on the season, leaving the Arizona Cardinals as the only unbeaten team in the NFL.

Ekeler ran 11 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter and connected with Herbert on a 14-yard touchdown to give the Chargers a 21-0 lead with less than a minute to go in the first half.

"We told everyone we got to believe in each other and we executed well and we played well," said Herbert. "We had a great plan all week."

The start of the game was delayed due to thunderstorms in the Los Angeles area. Even though they were playing at home at the new state-of-the-art SoFi Stadium, it must have felt like a road game for the Chargers as their fans were heavily outnumbered by Raider supporters.

"It is just the way we want it," said Herbert, adding they fed off the energy of the crowd.

Herbert completed 25 of 38 passes for 222 yards and Ekeler had 145 scrimmage yards (117 rushing and 28 receiving) as the Chargers used an explosive first half to gain the upper hand early.

Quarterback Carr connected on 21 of 34 passes for 196 yards but had an interception in the loss. Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller caught touchdown passes for the Raiders, who were held scoreless in three of the four quarters.

"Your feelings are going to get hurt in this league sometimes and certainly ours are hurting right now," said Raiders coach Jon Gruden.

"They converted on critical plays and on fourth downs. They went all out tonight and they are going to go places this year. They are a force to be dealt with."

Monday's outcome resulted in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West between the Chargers, Raiders, and Denver Broncos, who are all 3-1. The 2019 Super Bowl winning Kansas City Chiefs are at 2-2.

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