Khalil Mack may try to downplay facing the Raiders. However, he seems to play his best whenever he faces his former team.
The Los Angeles Chargers linebacker set a franchise single-game record with six sacks in a 24-17 victory over Las Vegas on Sunday. The NFL record is seven, by Kansas City’s Derrick Thomas in 1990.
Since being acquired by the Chargers in a 2022 trade with Chicago, nine of Mack’s 14 sacks in the powder blue uniforms have come against the Raiders, the team that drafted him with the fifth overall pick in 2014.
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“You could say there is something extra but it is what it is,” said Mack, who was with the Raiders for four seasons before being traded to the Bears in 2018. “You want to play well against your old team, knowing where you came from. There’s a lot of respect but a lot of get back too from how it turned out.”
It was the sixth time an NFL player has had at least six sacks in a game since the league made sacks an official statistic in 1982. The most recent was Adrian Clayborn for Atlanta in a 2017 game against Dallas.
Among the reasons for Mack’s success: The Raiders started rookie Aidan O’Connell at quarterback.
“We just had time to get there. Everybody on the defense was working together,” Mack said. “He was doing a lot of things that was benefiting us while he was moving around in the pocket. I was able to get there.”
Chargers coach Brandon Staley felt like Mack was rushing the passer well despite not having a sack in the first three games. On Sunday, everything came together.
Mack also had 10 tackles (eight solo), five tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and a pass breakup.
“This guy is one of the best edge players of a generation and he is still that guy — he just showed everybody, ‘I’m still that guy,’” Staley said.
Mack had two strip-sacks of O’Connell, including one in the second quarter that resulted in Austin Johnson recovering the ball at the Raiders 35. That led to Justin Herbert’s 1-yard touchdown run, which extended the Chargers’ lead to 24-7.
Mack has 21 career strip-sacks, the second most since he entered the NFL in 2014. He also joined the late Thomas, a Hall of Famer, as the only players with multiple games of at least five sacks.
“It’s a blessing and very humbling. I can’t put it any other way,” Mack said.
Mack’s previous high for sacks was five in a 2015 game against the Broncos when he was with the Raiders.
Mack had three sacks in the third quarter. He got No. 6 in the fourth when he brought down O’Connell for a 9-yard loss. Leslie O’Neal had the Chargers’ previous record with five against Dallas in 1986.
“We jammed him, chipped him, hit him in the ribs. I mean, we did everything we could do to try to disrupt him with another player, and then we had a tackle, obviously, assigned to him as well,” Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said. “He had a great day and we were trying to put people over there on the right side for the most part. He did better than we did, clearly.”
Meanwhile, Mack's other former team -- the Chicago Bears -- have only six sacks total this season.