Here’s a look into the NFL positions as the season draws to an end.
The NFL has announced the AFC West rivalry game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders to be the final game of 2021’s regular season. The league made the right choice.
Sunday night’s game that was a de facto playoff two teams from the past battle to earn a playoff spot in the premiertime final of the first ever 18-week season. The Raiders were aiming to be the first team to get to the playoffs after removing an offseason head coach since 1961, had the lead 29-14 with 5 minutes left at the end of the 4th period. The Chargers hoping at making their very first playoff appearance since their Justin Herbert era, refused to let something as nil as an 1.2 percent chance of winning against their path.
In the background, simmering was the thought that a tie could push both teams into the Wild Card spots, and would end all Pittsburgh Steelers’ playoff hopes.
Herbert in the lead by two possessions at the end of the game and unable to answer the call, he rang the bell. He ended the 14-play, 74 yard touchdown drive by scoring the touchdown pass at 4th and 24 (!)
FOURTH AND 24 (!!!)
before acing the two-point conversion to make this a seven-point game with 4:28 to play:
The Raiders made three-and-out during their subsequent drive to give Herbert one last chance. Herbert was able to take over at his own 17-yard line , and transformed three different fourth-and-10 scenarios to give himself one final chance to get from the Las Vegas 12-yard line with only five seconds left. Both sides were exhausted however, the second-year quarterback had the courage to throw a laser at Mike Williams as the clock was at zero:
Dustin Hopkins’ extra point tied the game at 32-all and capped off a 19-play drive that somehow, some way, lasted just 2:06 on the game clock.
Derek Carr, eager to get his first playoff appearance of his career the Raiders their only postseason appearance in the last decade came as a result of a bargain with the football gods which left him in a broken leg, and everyone else with an Connor Cook playoff start and quickly regained the lead by scoring the field goal of 52 yards. The result allowed LA the chance to respond to the challenge, and it looked as if it was all over after the Chargers were faced with a do-or-die fourth-and-long saga.
Again, it wasn’t a issue for Herbert.
The strike of 47 yards at Mike Williams set up a field goal that prolonged the game and returned the ball to Carr’s grasp and left Steelers fans who were up until midnight on the east coast anxiously drinking tall boys’ drinks of Iron City. The Raider veteran swung the needle on a third-and-8 pass for Zay Jones. After one potentially game-ending Charger timeout (it was … questionable), Josh Jacobs ran for a second first down to open the way for a last play: the 47-yard kick of one of the top players in this game: Daniel Carlson:
Carlson’s strike slipped past the uprights when time ran out. The Chargers efforts failed. Ben Roethlisberger escaped to play at most one more game during his lengthy career.
Los Angeles showcased the heart of a playoff squad, however the scoreboard told an entirely different picture. The Raiders were in an era when their head coach quit and their leading wideout was detained for driving while intoxicated, and resulting in the death of a player, rallied to win their first postseason appearance in the last five years. Carr has been working in relative anonymity when compared to quarterbacks of similar talent has been a top playoff quarterback once more.
It was a terrible slow-finish. It was a beautiful match. The perfect conclusion of the 2021 NFL season.