Sunday Night Football: After a near tie, Raiders defeat Chargers 35-32 to clinch playoff berth

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
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There were plenty of wild games on the final day of the 2021 regular season.

But even though the Raiders and Chargers both would have gone to the postseason with a tie, each team played to win. And it took an entire overtime period to decide the contest, the Raiders came out on top with a 35-32 victory to clinch their first playoff berth since 2016.

Once the Raiders and Chargers each scored field goals in overtime, it looked as if Las Vegas might play for the tie. The club faced third-and-4 from the L.A. 39 when Chargers head coach Brandon Staley elected to call a timeout with 38 seconds left.

As quarterback Derek Carr told NBC’s Michele Tafoya after the game, the timeout “definitely changed our mindset” for the upcoming third-down play.

Running back Josh Jacobs took a handoff to the left for 10-yards. Las Vegas took a timeout with two seconds left. And Daniel Carlson kicked a 47-yard field goal through the uprights to send the Raiders to the postseason and the Chargers home unhappy.

That was one of a few significant coaching decisions Staley made during the contest. Down by three at the time, Staley chose to go for it on fourth-and-1 from Los Angeles’ own 18-yard line with 8:57 left in the third quarter. But running back Austin Ekeler was stuffed for a 2-yard loss, setting up the Raiders for at least three points.

That’s all Las Vegas was able to manage out of the golden scoring opportunity, as Carr threw a pair of incomplete passes on second and third down. Carlson’s 31-yard field goal made the score 20-14, Raiders.

Las Vegas would end up building a 29-14 lead with Carlson’s 52-yard field goal with 8:23 left in the fourth quarter. But that’s when the Chargers began their furious comeback to send the game to overtime.

Quarterback Justin Herbert completed a 23-yard touchdown to receiver Joshua Palmer on fourth-and-21 to make the score 29-20. The Chargers then got a successful two-point conversation with a pass from Herbert to Ekeler.

Then Los Angeles put together a stunning, 19-play, 83-yard drive to tie the game at 29 as time expired in regulation. Herbert made throws to convert a pair of fourth-and-10 plays and Los Angeles converted another fourth-and-10 with a holding penalty on Las Vegas’ defense.

In all, the Chargers were 6-of-7 on fourth down, converting each of their last six chances.

On the last play of regulation, Herbert hit receiver Mike Williams with a 12-yard dart to the end zone. Dustin Hopkins’ extra point tied the game at 29 and sent it to overtime.

Carlson connected on his fourth field goal of the game to give Las Vegas a 32-29 lead. But the Chargers answered with Hopkins’ 41-yard field goal to put the tie scenario firmly in play.

At that point, members of the Steelers organization and their fans were likely sweating since a tie would take them out of the postseason. But Staley’s critical timeout helped the Raiders get in a position to win the game.

With the victory, the Raiders finish the regular season 10-7 and are on to Cincinnati. Quarterback Derek Carr is slated to start his first postseason contest against second-year QB Joe Burrow and the Bengals on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET.

The Chargers end their first year under Staley at 9-8 and miss the postseason for the third year in a row.

And because the game — narrowly — avoided a tie, the Steelers will play the Chiefs next Sunday night at 8:15 p.m. ET.

63 responses to “Sunday Night Football: After a near tie, Raiders defeat Chargers 35-32 to clinch playoff berth

  1. Im so proud of our boys, great team win. Jacobs and Carr showed up and made just enough plays. Why the chargers took that timeout? i dunno but it benefitted us. Journey aint over yet hopefully we go deep in the playoffs. Go Raiders.

  2. Chargers head coach should be fired on the spot and not even allowed on the team plane for calling that timeout. The Raiders were going to let the clock run out hahahaha. You Blew It

  3. The timeout was with 4 sec left on play clock. They had to be in wrong package to stop the running play. No other reason to call timeout there. Crazy wild exciting game!

  4. Absolutely insane game!
    I guess I will never understand why the NFL changed a finite rule of if the ball hits the ground during a catch it is incomplete, to officiating interpretation that it’s OK for the football to drag a trough in the turf and be complete.

  5. Staley made the bonehead call of year. The clock was running and Raiders were going to run out the clock which would have allowed the Chargers to slip into the playoffs. But no. Staley called a timeout stopping the clock.

  6. For all the turmoil and drama the Raiders have gone through. This team has shown a lot of guts, grit and fight. At 6-7, they were left DOA. So damn proud of those guys!

  7. Staley made the bonehead call of the year. The clock was running and Raiders were going to run out the clock which would have allowed the Chargers to slip into the playoffs. But no. Staley called a timeout stopping the clock.

  8. If I’m a Veteran on that Chargers team, I’m probably pretty sick & tired of our Head Coach using “analytics” on basically every big decision that we’ve had, when conventional wisdom most likely would have taken us to our desired destination. Long story short, stop trying to outsmart everyone. In the end, he made the whole organization look stupid.

  9. Did anyone check who Staley had dinner with in Vegas? Seems like someone made a lot of money off his calls tonight.

  10. As long as he coaches (which I don’t think will be that long), I will never forget Staley calling a timeout with 38 seconds left in OT. It was extremely clear that the Raiders were running vanilla run plays up the middle and were happy to run the clock out for the tie. If he doesn’t call that timeout they run another vanilla run play and game ends. Once he called the timeout it changed the Raiders thinking.

    These are the types of decisions where coaches lose games. Don’t even get me started on his idiotic call to go for it on 4th down on their own 18 yard line in the middle of the 3rd quarter.

  11. WOOO! Let’s go!!!
    I feel like the Chargers screwed up the tie (thus their playoffs) by calling that timeout. That told the Raiders they were in it to win it. The Raiders were going to run out the clock and then punt it. Bisaccia hinted to it at the press conference. RAIDERS!!!!

  12. Staley needs to be fired. Either he’s grossly incompetent, and cost the team millions in playoff revenue, OR he’s on the take and needs to be investigated. There was absolutely no logical explanation for his actions in calling a timeout.

  13. Thank you for going for the win, Raiders. As a former San Diego resident, I wish nothing but misery on the Spanos family, at least where football is concerned.

  14. After the TO, LV still ran the ball…..Chargers don’t give up the yardage on the 3rd down run, LV probably let’s the clock run out.

  15. Amazing win by my Raiders. I was furious that they allowed the Chargers to convert all those fourth downs and tie the game at the end of regulation, because with our luck, I figured we would lose in overtime. I’ll gladly eat crow, though. The Raiders proved me wrong, and Carlson deserves a second straight AFC special teams player of the week award. Now, on to Cincy. Just win, baby!

  16. 30 years from now, instead of playing “Madden” we’ll be playing “Staley”. The point of “Staley” is to give glib interviews and pretend you’re smarter than everyone else.

  17. Don’t cry for the chargers. Had this game been played during the morning slate, Raiders would have needed to play for the win not expecting the Jags to beat the Colts. The only reason this game got the SNF slot was cause of the win and in lose and out nature.

  18. If you don’t think the NFL is rigged after tonight, then I don’t know what to tell you.

  19. After the 4th and 2 call to go for it from your own 15 in the 1st half the man has to go. Even a high school coach knows to punt in that situation

  20. Dumb timeout.

    Raiders were milking the clock and not even near ‘safe’ FG range. Since the Raiders ran it down to 4 seconds on the play clock, the game was going to end if you just stack the box. They just weren’t even remotely in a hurry to get into FG range.

    The timeout re-energized the Raiders. Gonna play? Okay, so will we. Carr’s reaction was TOTAL proof they were going to run two more times.

    Two runs and that tie IS a win because it got you into the playoffs.

  21. fun game to watch but I was hoping for a tie in overtime just because it would have been different and would have sent Steelers home

  22. The Raiders got some bad ref calls/non calls. But I was glad LVR went for win over tie. LAC shoulda gone for 2 at the end if they wanted to really win. Better chance to win, imo. LVR should keep their interim coach. They responded to him plus special team coaches have made good head coaches. Glad to see D. Carr get into the playoffs.

  23. Staley’s habit of going for it on 4th down and being unconventional may make for nice TV and gives him the reputation as a gambler who goes for the win, but that mindset cost him games this year and now a spot in the playoffs. The timeout at the end was mind blowing. It’s all very cute until you get burned, the coach really screwed his team in this one.

  24. Staley is one of those guys who thinks he is the smartest guy in the room. Too bad h e is a moron. Maybe he can watch the playoffs with Stefanski.

  25. Tickets to the game was a birthday present from my wife. We definitely got more than ours money’s worth. Great stadium, great fans and a great game. Some of the non calls were suspect. However the fans were loud when they were supposed to be and helped the team to victory. GO RAIDER NATION.

  26. Been watching NFL football since 1960 and I’ve never seen anything like that game. The fact the John Madden’s widow was there and lit the torch makes me believe The Coach just wanted one more game like nobody’s ever seen before. You got it, Coach.

  27. Staley is an imbecile. Analytics boy likes to go for too much on 4th down. But his best move tonight was while it appeared Vegas was content to let the clock run out for a tie to get both teams in the playoffs, this guy is calling timeouts. Genius move that aggravated Vegas and made them kick the winning fg, in my opinion. Guy should be fired today.

  28. No dog in the fight as a Pats fan, but that was one of the more exciting regular season games I’ve seen in a long time, crazy suspense.

    And what the hell was Staley doing calling a timeout in OT when the whole world seemed to know both teams wanted the clock to keep running 🤷🏻‍♂️

  29. Joe Staley and John Harbaugh went overtly aggressive all season on 4th downs and 2 pts and paid the price. Sometimes you need to respect your opponent than the nerd crunching analytics upstairs

  30. Why would Staley call that TO with the Raiders running out the clock for the tie, why? Wrong personnel? You stopped the raiders the 1st two run plays for no gain with that personnel and you thought that they couldn’t do it a 3rd time?

    That makes about as much sense as going for it on 4th down at your own 20. The players deserved better.

    I wanted to see Goodell’s head explode with the tie and after watching a 4hr football game Staley robbed me of that.

  31. So the Raided were probably just going to take a knee and MR ANALYTICS (chargers moron coach) calls a time out for no reason.

    Analytics cost the Charges multiple wins this season.

    But hey, let’s keep going for it on 4th down on our OWN 18

  32. Justin Herbert deserves a better head coach than Brandon Staley. Staley’s recklessness in decision making borders on idiocy.

  33. I am curious to know how Staley’s timeout with :38 seconds to go changed the mindset of the Raiders. Were they thinking of kneeling for the tie at that point?

    In the postgame interview, Carr said they had the mindset all along of sending the Chargers home and out of the playoffs. A tie would have been a disappointment after all of that.

  34. Before everyone crucifies Staley for going for it on 4th down, remember they also scored a TD on the first scoring drive because they went for it in a situation where most people would have kicked a FG. So his decisions on 4th down were a net positive 1 point and kept them in the game (since the Raiders got a FG after they got stuffed in their own territory).

    The timeout at the end of OT is indefensible though.

  35. When I went to bed it was 26-14, no way it ends in a tie with a score like that, right? Unless the officiating crews are instructed to keep the games as close as possible. I notice this morning the Chargers failed twice to convert on fourth down but the calls on the field were overruled.

  36. Mr. Staley, proud member of the elite group of “real football people”, underachieved dramatically this year with a good team and is going to ruin the career of Justin Herbert, if he doesn´t get a grip on things.

  37. Being a Steelers fan has easily take 5 or 10 years off my life with the constant stress and mood swings!

  38. the steelers need to send Brandon Staley a fruit basket for totally blowing letting the clock run last night

  39. Staley’s decisions defy logic. Who goes for it on 4th & 1 from their own 17? That’s FUBAR.

  40. Raiders finally have had payback for the “immaculate reception” Could have kicked the Steelers out of the playoffs just by taking a knee, Chargers forced their hand with that timeout with 38 seconds

  41. NFL thinks that game was exciting? You call that good football? The Chargers would have converted 4th and 40. They could not do anything until it was 4th down. If the refs did not help them then it was horrific defense by guys who seem to be able to defend until it was 4th down. Makes me want to turn it off!!!

  42. Going for it from your own 18. WTF you trying to prove? How you can put your team in the best possible position to fail? Between this and the KC game, he personally cost the them a playoff spot.

  43. Staley is the type of coach that the casinos in Vegas love to see at their tables. Keep betting those hard 12’s, Coach! So ironic they lost to the Vegas Raiders. Right now John Madden and Snake Stabler are in heaven enjoying a cold one together, comparing this to the Holy Roller, and smiling….

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