Los Angeles Chargers vs Las Vegas Raiders
The reverberations of that loss of the Colts were felt all the way into the desert. Suddenly, playing good football wasn’t the best choice for the Chargers and Raiders to enter the playoffs. The hilarious scenario that had been discussed all week did indeed happen. With the Colts losing to the Jaguars, if the Chargers and the Raiders finished Sunday Night Football tied, they would both advance to the playoffs, leaving the Steelers out. Their best bet would have been coaches Brandon Staley and Rich Bisaccia meeting in the desert where Sam and Nicky met at Casino, and close a deal.
Instead, they chose to respect the integrity of the game and actually compete for those two free playoff spots. It was a good fight that looked like the Raiders would win when they were leading by 15 points with 4:41 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Chargers facing 4th and 21st from the Raiders 22-yard line.
Herbert then put on a show worthy of a Las Vegas residency. He fired a 22-yard rocket between five Raiders defenders for a touchdown pass to Joshua Palmer. So while another shaking “analytical” discussion took place in the broadcast booth, the Chargers were successful with a two-point conversion. Herbert led them back down the field on a final drive with a beautiful ball in a double coverage Mike Williams. Then Staley showed the other side of the analysis: There are times to be on the safe side, like when a tie score takes your team to the playoffs, so kick the extra point.
Now it is overtime in a match that neither must win, but must not lose. They swapped the field goals and then, after the two-minute warning, the Raiders didn’t seem to try as much as possible to get into the field goal range. They went with the vanilla racing games and … they didn’t call timeout.
It was there. Both teams went through the charade of a hilarious extra-time match that likely scored top marks and no one could be mad at the Raiders or Chargers for just reaching the final 38 seconds in the playoffs with two exhausted teams.
Then, on the 3rd and 4th, Staley called a timeout.
A timeout, with 38 seconds between him and the playoffs. Force the Raiders to make that call. They are moving the ball over you but they haven’t stopped time yet and they are still out of range of the field goal. The Raiders had already left 15 seconds off the game clock and were in no kind of rush to run a game. There was a chance they would still call a timeout if they converted the first down, but don’t give them time to rest, think of a better game, and potentially leave an extra 31 seconds on the clock to finish your season.
It was a dull decision to end the day, but what a day it was. Week 18 on Sunday was like the NFL reboot 24, except without the torture, unless you work or support the Steelers and watch all Sunday Night Football.