A pair of AFC postseason spots could've been clinched with a primetime tie between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night. But the division rivals found a more creative and dramatic way to cap off the NFL's regular season. No tie necessary.
In a matchup chock-full of momentum swings and playoff-caliber tension, the hometown Raiders got the last laugh, drilling a game-winning field goal late in overtime to defeat the Chargers, 35-32, at Allegiant Stadium. With the victory, Las Vegas (10-7) secured the fifth seed and also eliminated Los Angeles (9-8) from playoff contention. An instant classic that exceeded expectations.
"The groundswell of the public started rooting for the tie. That never happens. When are we ever rooting for a tie?" Maggie Gray said during the Maggie and Perloff show on Monday. "I always thought that the Raiders or Chargers were going to try to win this game. Especially the Raiders, if they could bleep over the Chargers, they're going to do it. On top of that, Rich Bisaccia, who's the interim coach of the Raiders, deserves a lot of credit.
"If he had actually let that game end in a tie, without even attempting a field goal from 47 yards, that would've been coaching malpractice. That gets you fired on the spot. Because if the Raiders had tied, they get into the playoffs to play the Chiefs. Granted, they're going to play the Bengals. But would you rather be facing the two-time defending AFC champions, or the Joe Burrow upstart Bengals? You've got to kick that field goal."
The final possession of overtime was played and watched with bated breath. On 3rd-and-4 at the 40-yard line with 39 seconds left, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley called a timeout. Confusion then ensued, as it appeared that the Raiders were open to letting the clock trickle down to the final seconds and allowing the game to end in a 32-32 draw. After the timeout, Las Vegas ran the ball, converted a first down, and then set up the game-winning kick.
Immediately following the game, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr told NBC sideline reporter Michele Tafoya that Staley's timeout "definitely" altered the team's approach. Bisaccia later told reporters that their third-down conversion set them up in "advantageous field-goal position," and they were prepared to win the game. As for Staley, he stood by his questionable timeout, explaining that he didn't like the Chargers' defensive personnel.
Maggie and Perloff's complete thoughts on the Raiders-Chargers finish can be accessed in the audio player above.