The NFL could not have asked for a more dramatic ending to the regular season than Sunday night’s finale between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers.
With three different playoff scenarios hanging in the balance, including one that would have sent both teams to the post-season if they tied, the Raiders won 35-32 in overtime on a dramatic last-second field goal.
Besides the Raiders, the big winners from the game were the Pittsburgh Steelers who secured a playoff spot with the Chargers losing.
— Tony Montana (@TdawgMontana) January 9, 2022
The game only reached overtime after a heroic performance from Justin Herbert, who kept the Chargers’ season alive with two late touchdown drives in the fourth quarter.
The Chargers had to convert on six plays on fourth down while facing elimination and according to Next Gen Stats, the odds were not in their favour.
The Chargers converted on six 4th downs facing elimination in the 4th quarter & OT. What were the pre-play odds of converting every play?
Q4 (5:01): 41%
Q4 (4:35): 3%
Q4 (1:49): 32%
Q4 (1:12): 30%
Q4 (:22): 32%
OT (6:02): 32%
1 in 8,123 (~0.01%)#LACvsLV | #BoltUp
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) January 10, 2022
Once in overtime, both teams traded field goals — further increasing the odds of the game ending in a tie.
But with the Raiders facing a key third down late in the overtime, the Chargers decided to call a timeout which proved to be decisive. That was followed by Raiders running back Josh Jacobs converting first down, which allowed the Raiders to let the clock run down before Daniel Carlson secured the win with a field goal.
After the game, many fans on Twitter were quick to criticize the Chargers’ decision to take a timeout.
To matter what you think of the decision, the Raiders had more incentive to win as it meant they avoid playing the Kansas City Chiefs in the next week’s wild-card round.
I don’t understand why everyone on Twitter is insisting that the Raiders were playing for the tie until Staley took a timeout. Until we hear Bisaccia say that out loud, why should we believe it is true? They were playing to win and avoid the Chiefs.
— Aaron Schatz (@FO_ASchatz) January 10, 2022
In the end, it appears that only Herbert wanted the game to end in a tie. Even more than those who could have made a fortune betting on that very possibility.