With the clock at Allegiant Stadium ticking down, there was so much on the line.
For the Raiders, it was no less than how their franchise might look a month from now, with rumors rampant on a looming run at Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh crossing over with a locker room fighting to help its interim coach, Rich Bisaccia, get a shot at keeping the job full-time. For the Chargers, it was the shot to take a high-ceiling roster to the playoffs with the highest-ceiling quarterback still on his rookie deal. And don’t forget that the career of 18th-year Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was hanging in the balance, too
Tick … tick … tick …
The NFL’s first Week 18 in 20 years started with the unlikely scenario playing out before us just barely on the table. We knew coming in it would take the Colts, 16.5-point favorites in Jacksonville, face-planting against the lowly Jaguars first. And if that happened, then, a tie between the Raiders and Chargers would deliver the two AFC West rivals to the tournament and keep those Steelers out. That required four quarters of deadlocked football to begin with.
Somehow, we got all of it, and we got the Chargers and Raiders trading field goals to start overtime and, well, the wildest of the wild scenarios was right there in front of a national television audience, in the 272nd and final game of the NFL regular season. Would Bisaccia and first-year Chargers coach Brandon Staley play for the tie?