Coach Accused of 'Dumbest Timeout Ever' in NFL Finale

Raiders beat the Chargers in OT, sealing the playoff picture
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2022 6:36 AM CST
Crazy NFL Finish Nearly Cost Sportsbooks Millions
Los Angeles Chargers long snapper Matt Overton (54) reacts after the Los Angeles Chargers lost to the Las Vegas Raiders during overtime of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/David Becker)

(Newser) – Sunday night's crazy finale to the NFL regular season nearly cost bookmakers millions of dollars, reports ESPN. And it surely had certain bettors devastated that a big payday barely slipped through their fingers. All of this revolved around the late game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers. Whichever team won would make the playoffs. But in an odd footnote, both teams would make the playoffs if the game ended in a rare tie. If that happened, the Pittsburgh Steelers would be out of the post-season. (Earlier in the day, Pittsburgh got a miracle when 2-14 Jacksonville upset Indianapolis and knocked the latter out of contention, another factor in why the final game had such high stakes.)

The bottom line is that some bettors put down money that the Raiders-Chargers game would end in a rare tie and upend the playoff picture, even though ties occur in less than 1% of NFL games, per ESPN. After the Chargers tied the game in regulation with a touchdown as time expired and the teams traded field goals in OT, a tie suddenly looked very possible. Especially since neither team had much incentive to actually win, only to run the clock out and advance. However, the Raiders kicked a field goal as time ran out in OT—after a controversial decision to call a timeout by Los Angeles—and the game was over. Major sportsbooks were on the hook for seven-figure payouts otherwise.

"I know it was unintentional, but Steven Spielberg couldn't have written and directed a better script," says Johnny Avello of DraftKings. About that timeout: The Raiders had the ball around Los Angeles' 40-yard line in the final minute and seemed content to let the clock tick down. That's when Los Angeles coach Brandon Staley called a timeout, a decision that perplexed NBC announcers Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth, per Fox Sports. After the timeout, the Raiders ran the ball for another 10 yards, which allowed them to convert a 47-yard field goal.

After the game, Staley explained that he called the timeout because he felt the Raiders were about to run the ball and his team didn't have the right personnel on the field. But given the outcome, he's now taking grief in the vein of "dumbest timeout ever." Would the Raiders have simply let the clock run out had Los Angeles not called timeout? "We were certainly talking about it," says Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia. (Read more NFL playoffs stories.)

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