The Las Vegas Raiders fell to 1-2 on Sunday night with a 23-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at home, and a controversial late-game decision by head coach Josh McDaniels is getting plenty of attention after the fact.
The Raiders trailed 23-15 and faced a fourth-and-4 from the Steelers' 8-yard line with 2:22 remaining. Instead of going for it on fourth down, McDaniels chose to kick a field goal, even though, if successful, the Raiders still would have needed a touchdown to win game.
The Raiders made the field goal, but they couldn't get the ball back with enough time. The Steelers did punt on their next possession, but they took 2:10 off the clock and left the Raiders with just 12 seconds to go 85 yards. Jimmy Garoppolo was intercepted by Steelers defensive back Levi Wallace and the game was over.
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The analytics showed the decision was a poor one by McDaniels.
McDaniels defended his decision after the game.
"You have two choices there," McDaniels told reporters. "You try to make it a five-point game where you have an opportunity to win it with a touchdown if you get the ball back. Or you try to go for it there, and if you happen to convert you have to make the two-point conversion, all the rest of it. So, those are the decisions you've got to make. I thought we did a decent job putting ourselves in third down there the next series with the defense to try to have a play to get off the field, and we just didn't handle that play very well."
McDaniels added: "You're going to need another possession anyway; you know what I mean? So, it's not a lack of confidence. We went for it multiple times."
Another possession? A touchdown and a 2-point conversion ties the game and overtime likely ensues.
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The Raiders needed just four yards for a first down and eight for a touchdown. The Steelers couldn't cover Davante Adams all night. The elite wideout tallied 13 receptions for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Jakobi Meyers had seven catches for 85 yards, too. Josh Jacobs had a rough night, but he is a very capable running back. The Raiders absolutely should have tried to pick up the first down in that spot. McDaniels' decision was inexcusable.
Even if the Raiders went for it and failed, the Steelers would have been pinned inside their own 10-yard line. A stop by the Raiders defense probably would have produced good field position since the Steelers would have been punting from their own end zone.
McDaniels is now 7-13 since taking over as Raiders head coach last season, and his all-time record as a head coach is a lackluster 18-30. He enjoyed tremendous success as an offensive coordinator with the New England Patriots for many years, but that same success has eluded him elsewhere when he's running the show.
The Raiders have not been very patient with head coaches throughout their history. McDaniels is their seventh since 2010. If he doesn't turn it around quickly, he might not last long in Las Vegas.