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Raiders’ Josh McDaniels faces scrutiny over late-game decision to opt for field goal

Raiders’ Josh McDaniels faces scrutiny over late-game decision to opt for field goal
  • PublishedSeptember 25, 2023

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Las Vegas Raiders coach Josh McDaniels had a decision to make with 3:11 left to play in the fourth quarter and had to make a similar choice nearly one minute later.

On 4th-and-5, the Raiders lined up from the Steelers’ 29-yard line to kick a field goal down eight points. If they made it, the team would still need a touchdown to take the lead. The team could have taken a chance at the end zone but, with no timeouts left, they decided to take the points.

Daniel Carlson made the field goal but the entire play was nullified as Steelers defensive end Demarvin Leal was called for leverage – a personal foul – and it gave Las Vegas a fresh set of downs.

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Josh McDaniels coaches

Josh McDaniels of the Raiders during warmups before the Pittsburgh Steelers game at Allegiant Stadium on Sept. 24, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Jimmy Garoppolo then made one completion for 6 yards but threw two incomplete passes after that. On 4th down from the Steelers’ 8-yard line, McDaniels opted for the field goal again. They trailed the Steelers by five points and still needed that touchdown.

Fans watching the game were not happy with the coaching decision.

“Josh McDaniels is the greatest product of Tom Brady. Of all the people that Brady made, nobody has been exposed more consistently and spectacularly without his creator than McDaniels,” Boston broadcaster Matt McCarthy wrote on X. “Denver, St. Louis, Vegas. This guy is a walking disaster wherever he goes.”

“People wanted to fire Brandon Staley earlier for going on 4th and 1 when he failed inside the 25…” CBS Sports betting expert Todd Fuhrman wrote. “What Josh McDaniels is doing on this series is 1000% more a fire-able decision than anything I’ve seen this weekend.”

“This would have been a major help for Josh McDaniels in the fourth quarter,” NFL journalist Bill Barnwell wrote pointing to a football explanation meant for Taylor Swift fans.

Jimmy G and Josh McDaniels

Head coach Josh McDaniels of the Raiders speaks with Jimmy Garoppolo during the Pittsburgh Steelers game on Sept. 24, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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The Raiders stopped the Steelers on their next drive and had 12 seconds to make something happen. However, Garoppolo threw an interception to Steelers cornerback Levi Wallace.

“No! No!” McDaniels responded when asked whether going for a field goal showed a lack of confidence in his offense. “You’re going to need another possession anyway. It’s not a lack of confidence. We went for it multiple times.”

Las Vegas went for it on 4th down and converted once earlier in the game.

“You have two choices there,” McDaniels explained. “You try to make it a five-point game where you have an opportunity to win it with a touchdown if you get the ball back, or, you try to go for it there and if you happen to convert then you got to make the two-point conversion and all the rest of it.

“Those are the decisions you got to make.”

Daniel Carlson kicks a FG

Daniel Carlson of the Las Vegas Raiders warms up for the Buffalo Bills game at Highmark Stadium on Sept. 17, 2023, in Orchard Park, New York. (Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

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Pittsburgh won the game 23-18.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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