This is something the Los Angeles Chargers and head coach Brandon Staley should prepare to hear about throughout the entire offseason, if not eternally. With the score tied and a little less than one minute remaining in overtime, a nightmare scenario emerged for the NFL. With the early-day loss by the Indianapolis Colts and victory by the Pittsburgh Steelers in their respective regular season finales, the Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders could both enter the postseason if their game ended in a tie — something neither team attempted to guarantee by taking a knee for four quarters.
But when push came to shove, a tie was still very much in play, until Staley called a timeout to stop the Raiders from burning what was left of the clock in overtime. Having explained after the eventual loss why he did it, the Chargers head coach stated he needed to change his defense, operating under the belief the Raiders weren’t playing for a tie at all. Derek Carr, who finished the night with two touchdowns and no interceptions, says Staley was right.
The Raiders had no intention of finishing with a tie, but Staley’s timeout did alter whatever their plans were in the moment.
“It definitely did, obviously,” Carr said in his post-game interview with NBC’s Michelle Tafoya, via Ben Heisler of BetSided. “But we knew, no matter what, we didn’t want a tie. We wanted to win the football game. Obviously, if you tie you’re in, and all those things. But my mindset all day — I was even texting with Aaron Rodgers this morning — my mindset was to make sure we were the only team moving on after this.”
It can still be argued Carr is simply saying the most politically correct thing (as it relates to not angering the NFL’s front office) after the fact, seeing as there are videos now circulating social media that strongly imply the Raiders were actually willing to take a knee until Staley called the timeout, which did change the Raiders strategy, albeit not in the way Carr would have you believe.
It’s something that will be debated into eternity, but what requires no interpretation is the fact the Raiders (5) are in the postseason and readying to visit the Cincinnati Bengals (4) on Super Wild Card Weekend. And the Chargers are, well, sitting in timeout until next autumn.