Coach Josh McDaniels of the Las Vegas Raiders maintains his faith in his scheme.
He simply didn’t show it on a critical fourth down with 2:25 remaining in the game and the Raiders trailing the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-15.
McDaniels then sent kicker Daniel Carlson onto the field for a 26-yard field goal to tie the score at five.
Despite getting the ball back on their own 15-yard line with 12 seconds remaining, Pittsburgh cornerback Levi Wallace intercepted Raiders QB Jimmy Garoppolo to help the Steelers win 23-18.
“No! No!” When questioned whether shooting for the field goal indicated a lack of faith in his offensive, McDaniels responded passionately. “You’re going to need another item anyway.” It’s not a lack of belief. We went for it many times.”
Earlier in the game, the Raiders went for it on fourth down twice and converted both times.
In their first two games, the Raiders went for it on fourth down once.
Fact is, with an uninspiring running game that ranks second-to-last behind the Steelers with 116 yards and a passing game that ranks third-fewest in passing yards (385), the Buccaneers are in trouble. Making things worse for Las Vegas’ running attack, the Steelers entered the game having allowed 386 yards on the ground in two games, the most in the NFL. They were second-worst in allowing 455 yards after Sunday.
The @steelers defense brought the pressure all night 😤
3 INT | 4 Sacks pic.twitter.com/vKniRrpb28
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 25, 2023
McDaniels attempted to justify his choice.
“You have two choices there,” he said. “You try to make it a five-point game where you have a chance to win 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 and everything else.”
“Those are the decisions you got to make.”
So, what prompted the decision to try the field goal?
Perhaps because the NFL’s current running champion, Josh Jacobs, has failed to find his feet through three games, gaining 108 yards on 45 tries for an average of 2.4 yards per carry. It’s his fewest yards through three weeks of playing in every game.
He rushed for 228 yards in 2019 and 252 yards in 2020. He carried for 192 yards by Week 3 last season after appearing in just one game during the first three weeks of the 2021 season.
“I think the running game is a function of a lot of people doing their job well,” McDaniels said. “He was the rushing champion last year, and a lot of people did a great job, including him.” And, clearly, I don’t believe we’ve arrived. For three games, we haven’t done a good job of running the football.”
Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams also had some words to say about those who aren’t performing their jobs correctly.
“We gotta be real with ourselves, when we get these opportunities to watch tape together and do these constructive things, we gotta get something out of them,” Adams said. “It’s about figuring out what’s wrong and fixing it so that the next time we go out there, it looks different.” It’s not intended to be a week of nothing but s***. We have to go out there and do it.”
— Vincent Bonsignore (@VinnyBonsignore) September 25, 2023
Then there’s Garoppolo, who has thrown a league-high six interceptions, three of which came on Sunday.
“Those are obviously plays that we don’t want to make,” McDaniels said. “Jimmy makes a lot of good plays, but obviously when the quarterback has the ball, he has the fortune of our team in his hands as well.” He knows the circumstances and… had a couple of plays where we needed to make a wiser option and just go ahead and play the next play, whether it’s second and long or anything. But, in terms of turnovers, this club has a history of winning when they get turnovers and losing when they don’t. Obviously, taking care of the ball was critical. Tonight, we didn’t do a good enough job of it.”
Garoppolo declined to talk to the media after the game because he was being tested for a concussion.
Not a good omen for a struggling offense against the AFC West rival Los Angeles Chargers next Sunday in Inglewood.
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