The Raiders had the ball inside the Steelers’ 10-yard-line staring at a fourth-and-four with 2:25 remaining in regulation in a game they trailed 23-15. Las Vegas needed a touchdown and the two-point conversion for the tie. For some reason, McDaniels elected to kick a field goal instead.
The Steelers beat the Raiders, 23-18, after Las Vegas’ final drive came up woefully short. The Raiders would never get a good luck at the end zone again. A day later, everyone is still trying to figure out why McDaniels decided to kick this field goal instead of going for it on fourth down.
Kicking the field goal was an incredibly confusing decision by McDaniels considering the Raiders still needed a touchdown to win the game. Narrator: the Raiders did not score a touchdown.
Las Vegas had all three timeouts when kicked the field goal. They needed a three-and-out to have any chance of getting the ball back with enough time to win, and they didn’t get it. Steelers QB Kenny Pickett picked up a key third-and-2 just before the two-minute warning. The Raiders would eventually force a punt, but by the time they got the ball back there was only 15 seconds left and needed to go 85 yards for the score. Instead, the Steelers sealed the win with an interception:
Las Vegas fell to 1-2 with the loss. After a 6-11 season in McDaniels’ first year as head coach, losing a game like this will again ignite speculation about his long-term future in the organization.
The Raiders are the only team in NFL history to kick a field goal in that exact situation: down eight points at the end of the game and less than five yards away from a new set of downs. It’s even more embarrassing for Las Vegas given how close they were to the end zone.
Since the 2-point conversion was adopted in 1994, the Raiders are the only NFL team to attempt a field goal in the last 3:00 of the 4th quarter when down by exactly 8 points with less than 5 yards to go for a first down (or TD).— OptaSTATS (@OptaSTATS) September 25, 2023
McDaniels explained his decision to kick the field goal after the game. He wasn’t very convincing.
Josh McDaniels explains field goal decision pic.twitter.com/Pu5R2Gjnzk— Gifdsports (@gifdsports) September 25, 2023
Fans watching the game on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter couldn’t believe the Raiders didn’t go for it.
RAIDERS: we need a touchdown— Shea Serrano (@SheaSerrano) September 25, 2023
MCDANIELS: kick the field goal
MCDANIELS: kick the field goal
RAIDERS: but we’re still gonna need a touchdown
MCDANIELS: kick. the. field. goal.
i don’t care what week it is, if you make that decision you should get fired in the tunnel on your way back to the locker room— victoria zeller (@dirtbagqueer) September 25, 2023
Hell yes Josh McDaniels said math is for nerds and coached on vibes alone— BUM CHILLUPS AKA SPENCER HALL (@edsbs) September 25, 2023
Josh McDaniels masterplan:— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) September 25, 2023
get the ball back w 12 seconds left at his 15-yd line
McDaniels acted like he was going to wet his pants at the prospect of going for two. That was one of the most cowardly performances I've seen at the end of a game— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) September 25, 2023
Life is too short to kick field goals inside the 10 when you’re down eight at the end of the game. NFL head coaches are still way more risk averse than the general public would like, and McDaniels proved it once again.