Chiefs coach Andy Reid, staff enraptured as Chargers-Raiders nearly tied

Chiefs Bengals Football
Posted at 4:03 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-10 17:03:08-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the results trickled in and the AFC playoff picture came into sharper focus Sunday, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid and his staff zeroed in on the Pittsburgh Steelers as the most likely opponent in the Wild Card playoffs.

Jacksonville’s stunning upset of Indianapolis coupled with the Steelers’ overtime win at Baltimore meant as long as the Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders didn’t end in a tie, Pittsburgh would be returning to Kansas City for the second meeting in four weeks.

“Most of our focus was on Pittsburgh,” Reid said. “The chances of it being a tie we felt was slim to none, but we got down there and it was something. It was quite a game.”

With the Raiders in control 29-14 early in the fourth quarter, Reid and his staff were busy poring over the Steelers’ tendencies and beginning to craft a game plan.

The Chiefs’ staff hit the pause button, enraptured along with the rest of NFL fans as Justin Herbert led a gritty touchdown drive — which included two fourth-down conversions, one for a 23-yard touchdown on fourth-and-21 — capped by a two-point conversion and the Chargers’ defense stiffened to force a punt with a little more than two minutes remaining.

“We focused on Pittsburgh and that’s kind of the direction we headed yesterday, and then we watched the game,” Reid said. “We were down to the last two minutes going, ‘We might be playing the Raiders.’”

A tie would have made the Chargers the No. 6 seed and left the Raiders as the No. 7 seed — headed to Arrowhead Stadium for the Wild Card round with the Steelers’ season finished.

On the final play of regulation, Herbert delivered the game-tying touchdown on a 19-play, 83-yard drive that featured three fourth-and-10 conversions. It was scintillating TV — and certainly had the Chiefs’ attention.

Both teams could have kneeled out the 10-minute overtime period and advanced to the postseason, but instead they traded field goals in the first 5 1/2 minutes.

“I figured they wouldn’t take a knee,” Reid said. “That would be hard on the quads man to take that many knees. I felt like the guys were going to play and then just go about their business that way.”

Powered by Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas managed to reach Los Angeles territory on the third drive in overtime, but seemed prepared to take a knee and settle for a tie before Chargers coach Brandon Staley’s timeout with 38 seconds left.

After that, the Raiders leaned on Jacobs again for a 10-yard run to the Chargers’ 29-yard line and Daniel Carlson ended Staley’s inaugural season with a 47-yard field goal as time expired.

Reid and his staff then resumed preparations for the Steelers.

“It comes down to the last two minutes and you’re going, ‘My goodness, here we sit,’” Reid said. “I think it’s a great tribute to the National Football League for making the last week as exciting as it was. This Week 18 for 17 games there was unbelievable. I’d probably say the most exciting that we’ve had since I’ve been in the league.”

Kansas City (12-5) hammered Pittsburgh (9-7-1) on the day after Christmas 36-10 and opened as 12 1/2-point favorites in the Wild Card rematch.