NFL

Raiders discussed settling for tie before thrilling finish as Staley explains timeout call

By Sports Desk January 10, 2022

The Las Vegas Raiders sideline discussed settling for a tie before completing their dramatic playoff-clinching win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

Concluding an incredible Week 18 in the NFL, the Raiders sealed their first playoff berth since the 2016 season as Daniel Carlson's game-winning field goal settled a 35-32 classic as time expired in overtime.

The kick sent the Raiders and the Pittsburgh Steelers to the postseason and knocked out the Chargers, who had earlier recovered from 15 points down in the fourth quarter.

A stunning victory for the Jacksonville Jaguars over the Indianapolis Colts earlier on Sunday opened up the possibility of both the Raiders and Chargers settling for a tie in their winner-take-all season finale and sending both to the postseason at the expense of the Steelers.

The topic had been hotly discussed leading up to the game, with Chargers coach Brandon Staley emphatically ruling out such a scenario.

But that possibility suddenly looked likely as the game remained tied in the final minute of the extra period after both teams traded field goals.

There was a final twist, though, as Josh Jacobs' 10-yard run on third down, after a controversial decision by Staley to call a timeout and stop the clock with 38 seconds left, put Carlson in position to boot the Chargers out of the postseason with a 47-yard kick. 

The Raiders acknowledged they had pondered the prospect of settling for a tie as the game progressed and thought the Chargers were doing the same given they had not called timeout on a previous Jacobs run in overtime.

"We were going to take the field goal and try to win it," said Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia.

"But we were certainly talking about it [settling for a tie] on the sideline.

"We ran the ball there [near the end of OT], and they didn't call timeout, so I think they were probably thinking the same thing." 

Bisaccia hailed the Raiders' spirit after the team won their final four games against the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Colts and Chargers by a total of just 12 points.

He said: "We just found a way to have a chance to win at the end and we have been in this situation before.

"Derek Carr has been in two-minute situations before; he's been in four-minute situations before. Our defense has had to come up with stops at the end of the game.

"So you just can't say enough about how this team prepares. I just know they believe in each other when they go out there. They don't blink."

Asked whether the Raiders would have punted or taken a knee on fourth down if Jacobs had not got them into field goal range, Bisaccia said, "I don't know – it didn't happen!" before smiling and leaving his exchange with reporters.

Staley, meanwhile, was left to explain his thinking with the timeout after the Chargers fell agonisingly short.

"We needed to get in the right grouping, we felt like they were going to run the ball, so we wanted to get our best 11 personnel run defense in," said Staley.

"Make that substitution so that we could get a play where we would deepen the field goal."

"I had never been rooting for a tie more in my life,'' added Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, who racked up 64 pass attempts, completing 34 for 383 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

"That's the unfortunate part of being so close.''

The Raiders will face the Cincinnati Bengals on Wild Card weekend when the Steelers will take on the Kansas City Chiefs.

Carr, who threw for two touchdowns, will finally play in a playoff game for the first time after starting 127 games in the regular season.

"I'm excited, thinking about the next team we play, and then everything hurts," he said.

"It feels cool, it's awesome, but we've got to play a team that already beat us [the Bengals], so it's going to be tough.

"I just have this weird feeling in my heart like, 'The job's not done.' Like my favourite player, Kobe [Bryant], said, 'Job's not done'."

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