Monday, January 24, 2022

Chargers’ Brandon Staley explains bizarre OT timeout in excruciating season-ending loss to Raiders

Brandon Staley wanted a timeout and he got it, followed by the longest timeout in the NFL: the offseason. The talented Los Angeles Chargers head coach made it clear early in the week that if the chaos scenario emerged in which his team and the Las Vegas Raiders could guarantee both clubs a trip to the postseason with a tie — by way of an Indianapolis Colts loss and a Pittsburgh Steelers win in Week 18 — he would not allow his team to take a knee for four quarters. 

But as fate would have it, the Sunday night fight sped toward a tie anyway, and that’s when Staley’s conviction to his words was truly tested. After the Raiders took a three-point lead on a Daniel Carlson field goal, the Chargers matched serve, forcing Las Vegas to either score or simply run the clock down and ruin the night for the Steelers (who would be eliminated if the game ended with a tie). 

Six plays later, on third-and-4 and with the Raiders standing on the Chargers 40-yard line, four seconds left on the play clock and 39 seconds left in regulation, Staley called a timeout. 

But, why?

“We needed to get in the right grouping,” Staley told media, via the team’s website. “We felt like they were going to run the ball, so we wanted to get our best 11 personnel run defense in, make that substitution so we could get a play where we would deepen the field goal.” 

A reasonable explanation, except for the fact the Raiders were willfully allowing the clock to burn, which leads to the presumption head coach Rich Bisaccia had come to the decision he would let the tie happen. Staley wasn’t buying it, however, and stood firm on his belief that Las Vegas was trying to win the game and, as such, he was trying to stop it.

“I don’t think it changed their mindset,” he said. “They were going to run the ball on the play before, and they ran the ball on the very next play. We wanted to make sure we got our run defense in there. We obviously didn’t execute well enough, but we wanted to get our premium one-back run defense in there and that’s what we did. 

“My mindset was to make the field goal as long as possible.”

On the next play, running back Josh Jacobs ignored the defense that followed Staley’s timeout and knocked off another 10 yards to make it a 47-yard attempt for Carlson, who split the uprights and gave the Raiders what they were about to get anyway — a postseason appearance — while sending Staley and the Chargers home for the winter.

And now the latter will have months to try and figure out if the Raiders were actually going to do them a favor, until Staley potentially made them change their mind.

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