As the clock ticked into overtime at Sunday night’s Raiders-Chargers game, fans began to think the impossible could happen.
Before the game started, there was much talk about a scenario where, if other games matched, the two AFC West rivals could meet in a “Sunday Night Football” game only needing a draw for both teams to advance.
Although the two sides did not kneel for the entire game, it looked like there would be a tie anyway after Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs ran 7 yards close to midfield and both sides allowed the clock to stop less than one minute remaining. Until, of course, Chargers coach Brandon Staley called for a timeout.
After the timeout, Jacobs ran 10 yards for a first down to LA 29. Las Vegas then ended NFL fans’ hopes of a tie when kicker Daniel Carlson drilled a 47-yard field goal with no time remaining. The Raiders advanced to the playoffs with a 35-32 victory and Los Angeles went home to end the 2021 regular season.
Staley said after the game that his mindset was to make Carlson’s kick as long as possible and that he wanted to bring in the right defensive personnel to stop a Raiders run.
“We felt like they were going to run the ball, so we wanted to get our best 11-person running defense, make that substitution so we could get a play where we were deep in the field goal (range),” Staley said. .
Staley added that he didn’t think the Raiders had changed their minds after the timeout, noting that Las Vegas ran the ball before and after.
“We wanted to make sure we had our defense against the race there,” Staley said. “And obviously we didn’t execute well enough, but we wanted to have our premium baseline defense here and that’s what we did.”
Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said his team had a conversation on the sidelines about the possibility of a tie as time ran out. He said when Los Angeles didn’t call for a timeout after Jacobs’ 7-yard dash, he thought they were “probably thinking the same thing.”
“Then we had the big run there. And when we got the big run and we got into what we thought was an advantageous field goal position for us, we were going to take the field goal and try to win,” Bisaccia said. “But we were certainly talking about it on the sidelines. We wanted to see if they were going to ask for a time-out or not in that race. They didn’t, so we think they were thinking the same thing. a race there and it gave us a chance to kick the field goal and win it. So we were certainly talking about that. “
The Chargers had tied the game 32-32 with 4:35 remaining in overtime when Dustin Hopkins drilled a 41-yard field goal.
Las Vegas began the subsequent series with a quick 17-yard pass from quarterback Derek Carr to Bryan Edwards at the Raiders’ 42nd. Jacobs ran down the middle for 7 yards and the clock ticked. On the next play, Carr threw a short pass to Jalen Richard for a 5-yard loss and the clock kept ticking.
Carr then found Zay Jones at the Chargers’ 45 for a gain of 11, moving the chains and trotting out the two-minute warning. Jacobs ran for a loss of 1 on the first play after that and then for another gain of 7 to the Chargers’ 39. It was then, with 38 seconds remaining, that Staley called for a timeout, the first of two in overtime.
After the timeout, Jacobs gave Las Vegas a first down and ensured that the team would not only be on field goal range for Carlson, but also controlled the clock with only one timeout remaining for Los Angeles.
Carr sparked controversy after the game by saying the time-out changed Las Vegas’ strategy.
“He definitely did, obviously, but we knew that whatever happens, we didn’t want a draw. We wanted to win the football game,” Carr told NBC Sports’ Michele Tafoya. “Obviously, if you tie, you’re in, all of those things, but my mindset, all day, I was even texting Aaron Rodgers this morning. My mindset was to make sure we were the only team moving on after this. “
As some pointed out, it looked like the Raiders were going to run the ball before the Chargers called a timeout. Even a short run down the middle would have put Carlson within reach of a field goal. His career time is 56 and he entered the game having made 12 of 15 kicks from 50 yards or more.
The Raiders didn’t kneel here before timeout. And after the time-out they got under the center and ran. They were going to try a field goal no matter what imo pic.twitter.com/xSskq71ztA
– Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) January 10, 2022
Now, the Chargers will have to watch rival Raiders take on the Bengals in the first round of the playoffs as Los Angeles awaits next season.