Everyone knows soccer video games will not be determined by one play, one mistake, one individual. However when a number of performs and errors come from one individual — in essentially the most essential of circumstances, no much less — it is just a little simpler to assign blame. Such is the case of Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders, who not solely misplaced a really winnable sport to the Miami Dolphins on Saturday evening however misplaced any probability of coming into the 2020 playoffs and ending a three-year streak of spending January at residence.
On an evening when Derek Carr put up large numbers concentrating on Darren Waller and Nelson Agholor, who mixed for 267 yards in a demolition of Miami’s secondary; and when Josh Jacobs averaged greater than 5 yards per carry; and when Vegas’ protection obtained every kind of push up entrance, logging three sacks and 7 tackles for loss, Gruden managed to undermine all the Raiders’ last-minute resiliency with a string of iffy choices.
His crew, which squandered a path to the postseason in 2019 because of a December collapse, appeared on the verge of an inspiring end after Agholor drew a 49-yard go interference penalty to set Vegas up at Miami’s 22-yard line with 2:20 to go. Three performs later, the Raiders had a first-and-goal from the Dolphins’ 13 with 1:55 to play and Miami down to 1 timeout. However then got here bother, straight from Gruden’s headset. Whereas the coach evidently and rightfully needed to run down the clock in order to scale back the possibility of a Ryan Fitzpatrick-led comeback, he opted to take action on the expense of an even bigger Raiders lead, electing to play for a go-ahead area objective (a two-point lead) somewhat than a go-ahead landing, which might’ve compelled Miami to additionally rating six on its ensuing possession.
That is not even mentioning the actual fact Gruden centered this technique on Daniel Carlson, the identical kicker who earlier missed an additional level and was now being counted on to take the lead regardless of Vegas getting all the way in which to the Dolphins’ 1-yard line after a second-and-goal Josh Jacobs run. Oh, and it will get higher: Regardless that your entire ordeal stemmed from Gruden’s want to burn clock somewhat than play for extra factors, the Raiders’ sideline by some means nonetheless allowed Carr to kneel down on third-and-goal with six full seconds nonetheless on the play clock, gifting Miami extra time for its future game-winning collection.
The Dolphins nearly definitely wouldn’t have received — organising the deciding area objective on an unbelievable throw from Fitzpatrick — with out that additional time. And so they could have wanted a good greater miracle to win had Vegas merely scored a landing of its personal.
Once more, had been Gruden’s choices the one motive Vegas misplaced Saturday? No. However if you’re a $100 million head coach, amid the house stretch of your third season on the helm of the crew, with nonetheless zero playoff appearances in that point, the selections aren’t simply little errors anymore. They’re paramount.
“It is arduous to swallow proper now. That is a horrible strategy to lose a sport. I do not remorse taking a knee. We needed to provide the Dolphins the ball with as little time as attainable with no timeouts,” Gruden stated after the sport.