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Las Vegas Raiders vs. Los Angeles Chargers: 5 Biggest Games in the Rivalry

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 2020

The Raiders lead the overall series with the Chargers 67–56–2

The Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers open their 2022 season against each other. These two teams have played at least twice every season since the formation of the AFL in 1960. Along the way, they have played some memorable games, including last season's win-and-you're-in overtime contest that sent the Raiders to the playoffs and kept the Chargers home. Where does that one fall on this list of the five biggest games in the rivalry? Keep reading to find out.

5. Los Angeles Chargers 52, Oakland Raiders 28
Nov. 27, 1960 – Los Angeles

The first meeting between these two franchises was played under tragic circumstances. The Chargers' leading receiver, Ralph Anderson, died of complications from diabetes the day before the game. Fueled by emotion, the team scored the most points of the season against the Raiders. Los Angeles then beat Oakland the next week, winning its final four games of the season, but came up short in the AFL title game in a 24-16 loss to the Houston Oilers.

4. San Diego Chargers 55, Oakland Raiders 21
Nov. 22, 1981 – Oakland, Calif.

The 1981 Chargers were an offensive juggernaut and they put on what was arguably their best performance of the season in Oakland. Dan Fouts tied a franchise record with six touchdown passes, five of which were caught by Kellen Winslow. The San Diego tight end tied Bob Shaw's 31-year-old NFL record for touchdown receptions, a mark that has still never been surpassed.

3. Las Vegas Raiders 35, Los Angeles Chargers 32 (OT)
Jan. 9, 2022 – Las Vegas

Both teams entered the final game of the season at 9-7 with the winner earning a wild card into the playoffs. This also was the first meeting in Las Vegas following the Raiders' relocation. Going into the final four minutes of the game, it looked like the spot belonged to the home team, who led 29-14. But Chargers quarterback Justin Hebert reeled off two touchdown passes, including one to Mike Williams as time expired to tie the game. In overtime, the teams traded field goals, but Vegas got the ball back with 4:30 to go and conservatively drove down the field, setting up Daniel Carlson for a 47-yard field goal as the clock wound down to put his team in the playoffs.

2. Oakland Raiders 34, San Diego Chargers 27 (AFC Championship Game)
Jan. 11, 1981 – San Diego

In the only playoff matchup between these two franchises, Oakland came in as a wild-card team against division champion San Diego for a spot in the Super Bowl. The teams had split their regular-season games, but the Raiders were playing their best football when they met the Chargers for the third time. Jim Plunkett and Dan Fouts engaged in a shootout, but Oakland built a 28-7 second-quarter lead and held on to win. The Raiders then beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV to become the first wild-card team to win it all.

1. Oakland Raiders 21, San Diego Chargers 20
Sept. 10, 1978 – San Diego

Down 20-14 with 10 seconds left on the Chargers' 14-yard line, Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler took the snap and was about to be sacked by linebacker Woodrow Lowe when the ball fell out of his hand and kept bouncing forward. Raiders running back Pete Banaszak tried to pick it up but pitched it towards the end zone before falling to the ground and tight end Dave Casper batted it into the end zone and then fell on it for a touchdown and the win. The "Holy Roller" cost San Diego a playoff spot and the NFL changed the rules in the offseason to prohibit the offense from advancing the ball on a fumble. Stabler, Banaszak, and Casper all later admitted that they deliberately moved the ball forward.

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports' Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.