As improbable as it seemed a month ago, the Las Vegas Raiders are going to the playoffs and they did it with a definitive win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Heading into the game, there was a ton of talk about how if the Indianapolis Colts lost, both teams would be in the playoffs with a tie. The Raiders and Chargers made it clear that they weren’t playing for the tie.
However, a tie became very possible as Sunday’s matchup eventually went into overtime. Both teams scored field goals but the Raiders had the ball last. They were driving down the field as time was expiring but hit a third-and-four at the 39-yard line. The team was ready to wind the clock down and possibly accept a tie. That was until Chargers coach Brandon Staley called a timeout.
According to Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, the timeout “definitely” changed the team’s plan. After the timeout, running back Josh Jacobs ran for a first down and put the team in better field goal range. That’s when Daniel Carlson nailed that game-winning kick that sent the Raiders into the playoffs and ended the Chargers season, but it didn’t actually need to be that way.
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Raiders Player Said They Were Going to Kneel
The Raiders wanted to win. Being the fifth seed and playing the Cincinnati Bengals is a lot more appealing than being the seventh seed and playing the Kansas City Chiefs. That said, they’ve been to the playoffs once since 2014 and would’ve taken what they could get. At the risk of something happening that compromised the tie, apparently, the Raiders were ready to kneel and accept the tie, according to a conversation between long snapper Trent Sieg and running back Austin Ekeler.
The Raiders don’t like the Chargers so they weren’t about to do them any favors but a tie is better than missing the playoffs. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, their young head coach made a really poor decision.
Staley Ripped to Shreds Online
Staley is just 39-years-old and one of the youngest head coaches in the NFL. He’s also been one of the most aggressive. The Raiders saw that on Sunday as the Chargers went for it on fourth down seven times. While that style of coaching can work, he clearly still needs to figure some things out. People were not happy with his decision to call the timeout in overtime. Even quarterback Justin Herbert was devastated that his team wasn’t going for the tie.
Former NFL linebacker Lance Briggs even said that Staley’s decision was a “fireable offense.”
Staley has been the darling of the media all season long but now he’s getting knocked down more than a few pegs. The Raiders definitely aren’t going to feel bad as the Chargers coach made it clear before the game that he didn’t want a tie. For what it’s worth, the coach did explain his decision after the game.
“We needed to get in the right grouping,” Staley said, via the team’s website. “We felt like they were going to run the ball, so we wanted to get our best 11 personnel run defense in, make that substitution so we could get a play where we would deepen the field goal.”