Chargers head coach Brandon Staley raised eyebrows throughout his team’s 35-32 overtime loss to the Raiders on Sunday Night Football. Staley and the Chargers needed to win or tie against the Raiders to make the playoffs, and as the clock was winding down in overtime, it appeared that a tie was imminent as the Raiders were running the football and letting the clock run outside of field goal range.
If the Raiders and Chargers would have tied, both teams would have made the playoffs. Instead, the Chargers were eliminated with the Raiders’ win.
With the game tied 32-32 with less than a minute remaining in overtime and the Raiders facing a 3rd and 4 from the Chargers’ 39 yard-line, Staley took a timeout with the clock running. Following the timeout, Raiders RB Josh Jacobs rushed for 10 yards to set up kicker Daniel Carlson’s game-winning 47-yard field goal.
“We needed to get into the right grouping,” Staley said after the game about the timeout. “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 that we could get a play where we would deepen the field goal.”
It’s possible that the Raiders were comfortable with accepting the tie at that late point of the game. That was not likely the case heading into the game for the Raiders as higher playoff seeding was at stake with a win instead of a tie. But with the Raiders at midfield and running the football with roughly a minute left to play suggests that the Raiders were at least willing to accept their fate of kicking a long, unlikely field goal.
“It was a conversation. We were talking about it,” Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said about his mindset of potentially taking a tie at the end of the game. “We ran the ball there and they didn’t call a timeout. So I think they were probably thinking the same thing. Then we had the big run… got us into advantageous field goal position for us we were going to take the field and try and win it… We were certainly talking about it.”
Earlier in the night, Staley made an aggressive play-calling decision to keep his offense on the field for a 4th and 1 at the Chargers’ own 18 yard-line. That gamble backfired in a big way as the Raiders stuffed RB Austin Ekeler and set up kicker Daniel Carlson, who has been near automatic this season, for a short field goal after a Raiders three and out.
Brandon Staley has been an aggressive play-caller all season long who has not been afraid to follow the recommendation of analytics when it comes to keeping the offense on the field for fourth downs and two-point conversions.
“I felt like that was going to be a drive-starter for us. Generate some steam for our offense,” Staley said about the fourth down. “I felt like we would get it, felt like we had a good play call… they just made a play and we didn’t.”
“I understand that decision will be questioned, but in my mindset, that’s a yard that we can get.”
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