Trailing 23-15 with 2:31 left in their Sunday Night Football bout with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Las Vegas Raiders faced 4th-and-4 from Pittsburgh’s 8-yard line, needing a touchdown and two-point conversion to tie the game.
Just over a minute after a made field goal try from further out was nullified by a penalty, another questionable decision by head coach Josh McDaniels to take the three points contributed to the Raiders’ demise in their 23-18 defeat.
Josh McDaniels’ Head-Scratching Calls Cost Raiders
A few of McDaniels’ decisions down the stretch of Las Vegas’ loss seemed to put the Raiders in worse positions to succeed.
First, the choice to attempt a field goal on 4th-and-5 from the Steelers’ 48-yard line with 3:11 left in the final frame was a bit of a head-scratcher, but a penalty on Pittsburgh gave Las Vegas another chance to right its wrongs. Yet, the Raiders decided to once again go for the field goal facing 4th-and-4 from the 8-yard line, which made even less sense.
ESPN’s model had the Raiders’ odds of winning at 15.8% if they elected to go for it on fourth down the second time, better than their 10.2% odds when kicking the field goal.
If McDaniels wasn't going for a TD, why accept the personal foul for 15 yards on the previous FG attempt?!
You lost 1:30 by extending your own FG drive!
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) September 25, 2023
Las Vegas chose to trust its defense to prevent a first down, though, with three timeouts remaining and more than two minutes left on the clock.
The Raiders defense got Pittsburgh to 3rd-and-2, but the Steelers picked up a back-breaking first down as Kenny Pickett found an uncovered Allen Robinson to move the sticks.
Big 1st down conversion for the @steelers as the clock winds down⏰
— NFL (@NFL) September 25, 2023
Las Vegas then waited until after the two-minute warning to use its final timeout, squandering a few precious seconds, before eventually forcing a Pittsburgh punt with 23 seconds left. The punt was muffed by the Raiders’ DeAndre Carter, but he eventually recovered to give them one last gasp from their own 15 with 12 seconds left.
Jimmy Garoppolo then lobbed up a pass that was intercepted by Levi Wallace and extinguished already long odds of a touchdown drive.
Las Vegas ultimately ended up never having a better chance at a touchdown than the one it squandered when McDaniels decided to kick a field goal not once but twice.