LAS VEGAS — A timeout called by Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley with 38 seconds left in Sunday night's game against the Raiders may have cost the Chargers a trip to the playoffs, some are speculating.
Because the Colts lost to the Jaguars, a tie between the Chargers and Raiders would have meant both teams would make the playoffs while the Steelers would be left out.
That was a big talking point heading into the game.
Flash forward, the Chargers sent Sunday night's game into overtime after an incredible comeback from a 15-point deficit that included a great deal of fourth down conversions.
A last second score from the Chargers knotted it up at 29-29 heading into overtime. The tie narrative really started to play a factor as America, minus Steelers fans, looked on hoping the two teams would run the clock out in overtime.
The Raiders got the ball and marched down the field and settled for a field goal, so the game wasn't over yet. The Chargers matched them and with about four minutes left, the ball was back in the Raiders' hands with a 32-32 tie.
Las Vegas ran the clock all the way down as they got into Chargers territory. There were 38 seconds left on the clock and Vegas was on the Chargers' 39-yard line.
It wasn't quite field goal range yet. But it was third and four, and the expectation was a run and then some believed the Raiders would have just let the clock run out if it was fourth down. Some others believed a stop and the Raiders would try to kick a long field goal.
After the timeout, Josh Jacobs rushed for 10 yards to the 29-yard line, setting up Daniel Carlson for the game-winning 47-yard field goal as time expired.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said the timeout by Staley "definitely" affected the Raiders' mindset at the end of the game.
“It definitely did, obviously,” Carr said in his post-game interview with NBC’s Michelle Tafoya. “But we knew, no matter what, we didn’t want a tie. We wanted to win the football game.”
On the Locked On NFL podcast, Locked On Chargers host David Droegemeier said he didn't understand why Staley would take that timeout.
"It's very puzzling to me, this is the question that's probably going to haunt Brandon Staley all offseason when it seems pretty clear the Raiders were content with just letting the clock roll down and ending things in a tie," Droegemeier said on the Locked On NFL podcast.
Droegemeier said Derek Carr's postgame interview proves that Staley made the wrong decision there.
"Carr basically said, that definitely changed our decision and how we were going to do things, so just with that knowledge, it definitely hurts," Droegemeier said. "That decision cost the Chargers probably a spot in the playoffs and that's a decision Brandon Staley and the Chargers are going to have to sit with for the rest of the season."
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While missing the playoffs is a bit of a shock for the Chargers, who have played in so many highly competitive and highly entertaining games this season, Droegemeier said this is a team that's still on the rise.
"It we look at things on a macro perspective, this was a winning season for the Chargers who had a lot of turnover, a completely new defense, completely new offense and +.500 record with a young, all world quarterback on a rookie contract," Droegemeier said. "With all of the resources that are at their disposal, this is a team that despite the result, is still very much on the rise."
The playoffs are now set with Wild Card weekend kicking off next weekend:
No. 1 Tennessee Titans (BYE)
No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs vs. No. 7 Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 3 Buffalo Bills vs. No. 6 New England Patriots
No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals vs. No. 5 Las Vegas Raiders
No. 1 Green Bay Packers (BYE)
No. 2 Tampa Bay Bucs vs. No. 7 Philadelphia Eagles
No. 3 Dallas Cowboys vs. No. 6 San Francisco 49ers
No. 4 Los Angeles Rams vs. No. 5 Arizona Cardinals
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