June 15, 2024

LAS VEGAS — Trailing by eight points and facing fourth-and-4 at the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ 8-yard line with 2:25 to play, Las Vegas Raiders coach Josh McDaniels sent out his field goal team.

Less than a minute earlier, Las Vegas kicker Daniel Carlson had converted a 48-yarder only for it to be negated by a Steelers penalty, putting the Raiders closer to the end zone.

“You have two choices there,” McDaniels said after the Raiders fell to the Steelers, 23-18, on Sunday night. “You try to make it a five-point game [with the field goal], where you have an opportunity to win it with the touchdown if you get the ball back. Or you try to go for it there. And then if you happen to convert then you’ve got to make the two-point conversion.”

According to ESPN analytics, going for it would have given the Raiders a 15.8% win probability, compared to 10.2% by kicking the field goal.

With three timeouts remaining, plus the 2-minute warning, McDaniels had faith that his defense could get the ball back with enough time to drive for a winning score.

Instead, the Steelers started at their own 25-yard line, got a first down and, by the time Las Vegas got the ball back, there were just 12 seconds on the clock, all of the Raiders’ timeouts were burned and they were on their own 15-yard line.

A Jimmy Garoppolo interception — his third of the game — on a deep out pass to Davante Adams on the left sideline ended the game.

Asked if not going for it was a sign of a lack of confidence in the offense, McDaniels shook his head.

“You’re going to need another possession anyway, you know what I mean?” he said. “So, it is not a lack of confidence.”

Then how close was McDaniels to going for it on fourth-and-4?

“I don’t know, I mean, we kicked one earlier in that sequence … and then we’re fortunate enough to get a penalty on that field goal and then got down there,” McDaniels said. “I mean, it is what it is. Like I said, you can go either way with those, and I did have confidence that we were playing well enough defensively and would have an opportunity to maybe get the ball back with two minutes to go and have an opportunity to go down there and take the lead.”

Garoppolo did not comment on the decision as he was not made available to the media after the game. A team spokesperson said the quarterback was being evaluated for a concussion. It was not clear when Garoppolo was injured, as he was not evaluated for a concussion during the game and played throughout, though he did take several hard hits and was sacked four times. He finished the game 28-of-44 passing for 324 yards with two touchdowns and the three interceptions.

And while running back Josh Jacobs said he supported the decision to kick the field goal, Adams would only say he did not want to be seen as second-guessing anyone.

“I agree with what Coach did,” said Jacobs, who rushed for a season-high 62 yards on 17 carries. “The defense was starting to play good at the end of the game. We could have got the ball back with time to score.”

Said Adams, who had 13 catches for 172 yards and two TDs: “I don’t like getting into that. That’s not a good look for me. I’m a receiver.”

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