Raiders coach Josh McDaniels is being heavily criticized for his overly conservative decision making at the end of Sunday's game. Photo Credit: NBC Raiders coach Josh McDaniels is being heavily criticized for his overly conservative decision making at the end of Sunday’s game. Photo Credit: NBC

Near the end of Sunday night’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Las Vegas Raiders, Vegas coach Josh McDaniels made a pair of decisions that, to put it mildly, are being questioned. And rightfully so.

The Steelers generally controlled the game, leading 23-7 deep into the fourth quarter. But the Raiders closed the gap and found themselves not only trailing by just eight points but in possession of the ball, deep in Pittsburgh territory.

Facing a fourth down and needing less than a yard, Vegas lined up to go for it, but committed an illegal snap penalty. After the five-yard penalty, McDaniels sent the field goal unit onto the field. It was a weird choice. The Raiders did have all three time outs remaining and there was 3:15 left. Still, it was still only fourth-and-five and the field goal was no chip shot. The good news for Vegas was that Carlson made the kick. The better news is that Pittsburgh was penalized for leverage, giving the Raiders a first down.

Vegas picked up six yards after the penalty, bringing up a fourth-and-four. This seemed like a no-brainer. Now, only 2:25 remained in the game. So even though the Raiders had all three time-outs and the two-minute warning, giving the ball back to the Steelers would have left very little margin for error. Additionally, Vegas was now deep enough in Pittsburgh territory that even a missed fourth-down attempt conversion would have given the Steelers challenging field position.

Despite that, the Raiders again opted for a field goal. Carlson made the shorter kick but this time, there was no penalty.

Even before the rest of the game played out, McDaniels’ conservative decision-making was being heavily criticized.

Despite that, the Raiders had a chance. And while the Steelers did pick up a first down on the ensuing possession, they were forced to punt. Vegas return man DeAndre Carter muffed the punt but managed to recover his own fumble.

That set the Raiders up on their own 15-yard line and needing a touchdown. Making matters worse, only 12 seconds remained and Vegas now did not have a time out. Levi Wallace intercepted Garoppolo on the first play of the ensuing possession, ending the game.

One coach is going to lose every game. And while decisions can certainly be debated, sometimes there’s not much that a coach could have done to change the result.

For example, Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay was criticized for waiting too long to kick a field goal during the final drive of his team’s Week 2 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. But the Rams were down 10 points. They were not in field goal range until roughly 30 seconds remained. Yes, McVay would have given his team a better chance to win if he sent his field goal unit out earlier. But no scenario was going to give the Rams a realistic chance to win or tie the game.

But here? It’s a different story. The Raiders are now 1-2 on the season and McDaniels is 7-13 in his tenure as the team’s coach. If anyone was wondering why his record was so poor, the final sequence of this game will go a long way toward clearing that mystery up.

[Photo Credit: NBC]

About Michael Dixon

Michael is a writer and editor for The Comeback Media. He is Bay Area native living in the Indianapolis area. Michael is also a big nerd when it comes to sports history and to a slightly lesser extent, all history. Beyond that, loves tacos, pizza and random Seinfeld quotes.

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