LAS VEGAS—On Sunday, January 9, the Los Angeles Chargers visited the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. On the line was the final spot in the AFC Playoffs. The Raiders beat the Chargers, 35-32 in OT.
Allegiant Stadium was buzzing with an energy that could have powered the iconic Vegas Strip. In the first quarter, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr helped the Sliver and Black jump out to a 10-0 lead. The Chargers and their Pro-Bowl quarterback Justin Herbert would not allow the Bolts to go quietly in the night. Herbert was magnificent the entire night.
To be fair to the Chargers, they were the victims of some dubious officiating. A wobbly duck from Carr sailed to the far-left of the end zone, the ref inexplicably threw a flag for pass interference. Setting the ball at the one-yard line for an easy touchdown.
I hardly ever write on the referees performance because it’s an extremely difficult job, where the action occurs at breakneck speed, yet that specific call was egregious.
Down by seven with two minutes left, Herbert led the Chargers down the field a la John Elway. It was nail-biting, as they converted on multiple 4th downs. With 7 seconds left, Herbert threw a rocket to wide receiver Mike Williams as time expired. Now, overtime or as some fans view it, “Free Football.”
Both the Chargers and the Raiders had matching (9-7) records heading into the extra period. In a unique situation, if the Chargers and Raiders finished in a tie, both teams would have reached the Playoffs, leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers out.
The Raiders won the coin toss and running back Brandon Jacobs who has been suffering from broken ribs, had the game of his career with 132 rushing yards, he was the X-factor down the stretch.
The Raiders and the Chargers traded field goals, making it 32 apiece.
On the final possession, the Raiders got conservative running the ball allowing precious seconds to drain from the clock. The Raiders did not want to risk turning the ball over.
With 38 seconds remaining, Staley calls a time out which clearly infuriates the Raiders. This was his second terrible decision, as he decided to have the Chargers go for it on fourth down from their own 18-yard line.
“We needed to get in the right grouping,” Staley said during a postgame news conference.
On third down, Jacobs found a hole and rumbled for 10 yards, setting up a Dylan Carlson 47-yard field goal as time expired on the Chargers season.
The Raiders will visit the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday, January 15 at 1:30 p.m.