Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels spurred another round of analytics discussions with his decision to go for a two-point conversion attempt late in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s loss in Kansas City.
The Raiders scored on a 48-yard touchdown between Derek Carr and Davante Adams with 4:27 remaining to pull within 30-29. Instead of tying the game, Vegas went for two and the lead, but Josh Jacobs came up shy. Neither team scored from there, creating a one-point loss for Vegas.
“I felt like in that situation, they had a lot of momentum offensively in the second half,” McDaniels said, via the official transcript. “We had a play that we felt really good about. I thought we would get a look that would give us a shot at it for sure.
“We had a chance. We had a fair fight at it. They played it a little better than we did. We gave ourselves an opportunity to give ourselves a lead there and put a little extra pressure on them when they had the ball. Nothing more, nothing less. We were trying to be aggressive. We were trying to win a game. I know it was four and a half or whatever the time was, but our team felt good about it and felt like it was the right call at the right time.”
The aggressive plan — an attempt to avoid overtime at all costs — was in place before the Raiders’ scoring drive, according to Carr, who said he knew the Raiders would try to take the lead if they pulled within one.
“I liked it, I like being aggressive, especially on the road, I’m all on board,” Carr said. “When we scored, I was excited, but I was already telling people, ‘Hey, two!’ And then I looked at Josh [McDaniels], and he said it in my headset. … From my view, I thought Josh [Jacobs] was in. I thought his knee stayed off the ground. I mean, we’re this close from being up 31-30.”
To quote Charlie Conway: Yeah, but a quarter of an inch the other way, and you’d have missed completely.
McDaniels played aggressively all game. It paid off early, including a 58-yard bomb to Adams in the first quarter on a fourth-and-1. But it came back to bite the Raiders late with the failed two-point try and another deep shot on fourth-and-1 on the final drive — while trailing by one instead of tied — in which Adams and Hunter Renfrow collided.
Despite coming up short once again to fall to 1-4, Raiders players are on board with the new coach’s aggressive mindset.
“That’s what we wanted,” Jacobs said of the two-point try. “We knew we was going to be in that situation. It’s crazy, all week we were talking about third-and-1s, fourth-and-1s, two-point play.
“When I got the ball and the safety shot the hole, I knew it was going to be hairy. I really blame myself because I could have reached the ball over. I know we harp on not reaching the ball, but that was a situation where it wouldn’t have mattered if I did. So, I’ll just put that on my shoulders. I could have reached the ball over.”
Adams added, “You’ve got to buy in; that’s the only way you can make a play work. You’ve got to be for it. That’s [the coaches’] job to make that call, so I was fine with it because I felt we had a shot to put it in.”
The Raiders head into the bye week with four losses decided by one possession, most in the NFL this season — and two in which they had a 17-plus point lead. The four defeats have come by a combined 14 points.
“This is a marathon,” McDaniels said of turning the season around. “If it was a sprint, we lost the sprint but fortunately that is not what it is. Fortunately for us, it is a marathon. We understand what these games mean, and they each matter. They are each significant. At the end of your season, we know that. They add up.”
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