Call me soft, call me a Gen Z’er, call me a beta-male – I don’t care.
There is absolutely no reason on earth why the LA Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders should have played out Sunday night’s game.
They should have actively tried to tie, kneed the ball for 60+ minutes, and walked themselves into playoffs.
For some context – here were the potential AFC Wild Card matchups heading into the game, per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe:
To simplify things even further, two spots were left for three teams – and if LV and LA tied – they both would have had a seat at the table.
In football, your ultimate goal as a team is to win the Super Bowl. It’s the reason you pour your blood sweat and tears into every single day, it’s the reason why you scoreboard watch during week 18, and it’s the reason why many teams sit their stars in preparation for the playoffs.
If you have a free ticket to the dance, you should never pass that up.
Especially if you are the 2021-22 Chargers and Raiders. Both Brandon Staley and Rich Bisaccia could have been considered on the hot seat prior to this game, and both could have used a trip to the playoffs. They should have met up before the game and decided to knee it out.
Putting Staley on the hot seat after just one season might be considered a stretch, and I’m a huge advocate of the aggressive play-calling he displayed this season – even if it may have cost his team a playoff spot (see Chargers fourth down attempt on their own 19-yard line).
THE RAIDERS MAKE THE STOP ON FOURTH DOWN! #RaiderNation #LACvsLV on NBC and @peacockTV. pic.twitter.com/te5Xhe9tXy— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) January 10, 2022
However, after a red hot 4-1 start, the Chargers had been pretty pedestrian over the last few months of the season. They threw up duds against the Texans and Broncos, and lost a tight one against Kansas City as a result of the risky play calling mentioned above.
When asked about the possibility of tying on purpose, Staley told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that they would “compete as a team to the best of our ability.”
As for Rich Bisaccia – he took over for Vegas after the Jon Gruden saga back in October, and has handled the surplus of adversity they’ve had since then just about perfectly. He rallied the troops all the way to doorsteps of the postseason, having won three straight games prior to Sunday night. An automatic playoff birth could have given Bisaccia a head coach title sans “interim” in 2022.
This is the 4th time #Raiders interim HC Rich Bisaccia had to talk about off-field stuff (Gruden, Ruggs, Arnette, Hobbs).— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) January 3, 2022
From starting 2021 as a special teams coach to taking on so much adversity enough to destroy a locker room.
And they're still alive. pic.twitter.com/R0hZgnFcTu
The only two excuses to not have tied this game are:
- If the NFL could have somehow found a way to punish you for throwing the result of a game.
- If you simply don’t trust the other team to follow through with the handshake agreement.
Don’t give me the integrity of the game nonsense. As I ranted about on Twitter all day Sunday, there was absolutely no reason to play out the game.
But – they did, and it ended up being wildly entertaining. The game went to overtime and it was incredibly close to being a tie.
Congrats to the Raiders on their win… I guess. Hopefully Brandon Staley’s staunch aggressiveness didn’t cost him his job.
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