The Las Vegas Raiders were eliminated from the playoffs in heartbreaking fashion with their 26-25 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 16.
The Raiders had seemingly started to gain some momentum when they forced the Dolphins to bench quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter. However, the switch under center proved to be just the spark they needed with both teams trading punches to close out the game.
Las Vegas took control after cornerback Byron Jones was called for defensive pass interference on wide receiver Nelson Agholor that put the ball at the 22-yard line. Instead of going for a touchdown to extend the lead, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden decided to run out the clock and kick a field goal to go up 25-23 with 19 seconds left in the game.
The decision would prove to be quite costly as Miami responded with a game-winning 44-yard field goal from kicker Jason Sanders. Despite the outcome, Gruden does not regret his decision to settle for a field goal, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN:
“The play was to eliminate all the clock and all the timeouts and put them back with their back against the wall with 19 seconds left,” Gruden said. “I don’t regret it. I didn’t want [Dolphins quarterback Ryan] Fitzpatrick to have the ball. … I didn’t want him to be in a four-down situation. He’s a gunslinger; he was hot. That’s all I can say. I don’t regret it one bit. I just regret the results.
“But 19 seconds left, on your own 25-yard line, with no timeouts? I’ve called plays a long time. The probability of getting that done is remote.”
The Dolphins moved into field goal position thanks to a 41-yard gain by wide receiver Mack Hollins that came with a 15-yard facemask penalty on defensive end Arden Key.
Despite all the key errors that occurred in the final minutes of play, the Raiders’ downfall was put in motion when Gruden opted to have quarterback Derek Carr take a knee at the 1-yard line to set up a 22-yard field goal from kick Daniel Carlson. The decision now serves as the cherry on top of another epic second-half collapse under his regime.
After losing five out of their last six, Las Vegas will now attempt to end the 2020 NFL season on somewhat of a high note versus the Denver Broncos in the finale.