Las Vegas Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said the team "certainly" considered playing for a tie with the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday before a late 10-yard run by running back Josh Jacobs moved them into field-goal range.
A tie would have landed both the Raiders and Bolts in the playoffs and eliminated the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it appeared as though Las Vegas was gearing down its offense during the final drive of overtime before L.A. called a timeout. Jacobs followed with the critical run to set up Daniel Carlson's game-winning 47-yard field goal.
Bisaccia discussed his mindset during those key moments after the contest:
Sunday Night Football on NBC @SNFonNBC
.<a href="https://twitter.com/Raiders?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Raiders</a> Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia admits that they were considering going for a tie. 👀 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SundayNightFootballFinal?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SundayNightFootballFinal</a> <a href="https://t.co/kujk0Iuewe">pic.twitter.com/kujk0Iuewe</a>
The timeout Chargers head coach Brandon Staley called was a head-scratcher because it came near the end of the 40-second play clock rather than immediately after Las Vegas' second-down play. There were only 38 seconds left in overtime, with the Raiders already on the fringe of field-goal range.
So while there seemingly wasn't much benefit to L.A. calling the timeout, Staley explained afterward he wanted a more run-centric defensive group on the field.
"We needed to get in the right grouping," he told reporters. "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 we could get a play where we would deepen the field goal."
Staley also shrugged off the idea that the decision altered the Raiders' approach, saying, "I don't think it changed their mindset." Bisaccia's comments suggest otherwise.
The Chargers coach also came under fire for a third-quarter decision to go for it on fourth down from the team's own 18-yard line. Austin Ekeler was stuffed to give Las Vegas the ball inside the red zone, but the Los Angeles defense stepped up to hold the Raiders to a field goal.
L.A. scored two touchdowns in the final five minutes, including one by Mike Williams with no time remaining in regulation, to force overtime before coming up short after the teams traded field goals on the first two possessions of the extra period.
Staley showed throughout his first season in charge of the Bolts that he wasn't afraid to take some chances based on analytics, and the third-quarter aggressiveness was exactly that, with support coming from the numbers:
4th down decision bot @ben_bot_baldwin
---> LAC (14) @ LV (17) <---<br>LAC has 4th & 1 at the LAC 18<br><br>Recommendation (STRONG): 👉 Go for it (+3 WP)<br>Actual play: 👉 A.Ekeler up the middle to LAC 16 for -2 yards (D.Philon). <a href="https://t.co/Xo1e5M9Wtv">pic.twitter.com/Xo1e5M9Wtv</a>
Yet the overtime timeout made little sense, with the Raiders showing no urgency and his defense having giving up just six total yards over the previous two runs.
Regardless of the reasoning, the Chargers will be watching the playoffs from home despite some promising signs throughout a 9-8 campaign.
Meanwhile, the Raiders will open the playoffs with a visit to Paul Brown Stadium to take on the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday.