The Los Angeles Chargers were less than a minute away from making the playoffs.
With the score tied at 32, they needed to run out the clock to clinch their postseason berth with the Las Vegas Raiders.
However, head coach Brandon Staley called a timeout they did not need.
The Raiders looked content in letting the game end without scoring again.
“I’ve never wanted a tie so bad.” – Justin Herbert right before Brandon Staley called a timeout 😂 pic.twitter.com/avC3jEte0b
— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) January 10, 2022
But the timeout prompted the Raiders to press for time and kick a game-winning field goal.
Football experts and fans questioned that judgment which might have inspired Rich Bisaccia to go for the win.
That choice was not spur-of-the-moment thinking because that’s how Staley has been throughout the season.
After that game, his decision was be subject to endless criticism.
Fourth Down Try Foiled
It’s a cliché, but fortune favors the bold.
Converting fourth-down possessions did help Staley and the Chargers get some victories.
However, that outcome isn’t always the case.
The rookie head coach based his decisions on analytics and statistics during critical moments, especially fourth downs.
In some instances, his gamble paid off, especially when the Chargers converted six fourth-downs to stay in the game.
The #Lions set the NFL record for most fourth down attempts in a season (41).
— Jeff Kerr (@JeffKerrCBS) January 11, 2022
But the preference of running a play backfired against the Raiders once.
Staley decided to go for it on fourth down at their 18-yard line.
Worst, he called the play with a lot of time left in the third quarter and Las Vegas up by three points.
Unfortunately, failing to secure the first down gave the Raiders a short field to work with and score a field goal.
The Chargers might have won the game if not for that opportunity, considering the final deficit.
Really, A Timeout?
The Chargers and the Raiders already knew their fate coming into their Sunday Night Football game.
With the Indianapolis Colts losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars, a tie is all they both needed to participate in the playoffs.
However, the division rivals made it clear that they wouldn’t kneel their way to a tie.
Yet somehow, both teams fought their way to a tie until the final minute of overtime.
“Were you gonna kneel it?”
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 10, 2022
After Josh Jacobs’ huge run, the Raiders looked content to let the clock run out and preserve the deadlock.
That way, no one could crucify both teams for not respecting the game’s integrity.
But out of nowhere, Staley pressed for time when there was no need for it.
As a result, the Chargers are out of playoff contention, and the Pittsburgh Steelers clinched the final Wild Card slot.
Growing Pains From Good Intentions
There was a point in time when Staley was a strong Coach of the Year candidate.
However, controversial decisions like these naturally took him out of the list.
Indeed, he had nothing but good intentions in imparting trust upon his team.
The analytics community seeing what’s being said about Brandon Staley pic.twitter.com/1KlXDf6Le4
— Gump Cathcart (@bubbagumpino) January 10, 2022
Unfortunately, these decisions dealt a heavy blow to their winning hopes.
Without question, Staley is a talented and innovative coach who will soon lead the team to the postseason.
But it would be better for him to choose his spots in calling gutsy plays.
Going all in at the right moments will yield huge dividends for Staley and the Chargers.