Nobody ever anticipated that a tie between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders would bring both sides to the NFL Playoffs, but it almost happened in the season’s final match. That was until the Raiders made a field goal as time expired in overtime, thus sending Brandon Staley’s team home.
Following the game, the spotlight shifted to Staley’s perplexing timeout. The Chargers new head coach requested a timeout just as the Raiders appeared to be milking the clock and going for a tie, and the rest, as we know it, is history.
Shortly after the chaos, Raiders head coach Rich Bisaccia admitted that his team was considering finishing the game in a tie. Then Josh Jacobs broke loose repeatedly, and everything changed abruptly.
Staley stated that he called the timeout to prepare the Chargers’ defense because he sought to cram Josh Jacobs and make Daniel Carlson’s substantial game-winning shot last longer.
“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 were deep in the field goal [range],” he explained.
— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) January 10, 2022
What went wrong
It was 3rd-and-4 for the Raiders, and Staley called a timeout with less than 40 seconds remaining.
Derek Carr was in shotgun, and Jacobs shredded the Chargers’ defense the whole game, notably on that last drive. A simple stop by the Chargers in this situation would have produced a 50-yard field goal. Rather, Jacobs rushes for a first run, and Daniel Carlson steps out to a much easier game-winning kick.
The Chargers’ run defense struggled once more, allowing Jacobs 132 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries while enabling Jalen Richard and Marcus Mariota to carry for more than 47 yards on a total of six carries.
That will not get the job done, and the Chargers are no strangers to this. The run defense was shaky all season and let down when it was needed the most.
Case of poor execution
Following the timeout, the Chargers modified their defense, replacing Kenneth Murray with Linval Joseph.
NFL commentator and former linebacker Emmanuel Acho was among those who chastised Staley for the move, claiming that the timeout lost the squad a spot to the playoffs.
Acho criticized Staley’s lineup change for the blunder. He said that in lieu of four defensive players and two defenders, the Chargers used five linemen and one defender in the game.
This placed a strain on linebacker Kyzir White to guard the middle of the field, while also firing downhill to try to halt Jacobs whenever an opening arose.
However, he also insisted that substituting Murray after the timeout was not the problem. It was, Murray emphasized, just badly executed.
Surprisingly, Chargers’ Breiden Fehoko endorsed their head coach after the game with a solid reason. Staley emphasized having the right personnel in the game, which was why the timeout was considered at that point.