Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 11/18/14

It’s an old mantra for football analysts, but if there was ever a time to go for it on fourth down, it was in the MNF nightcap for Oakland. Their long snapper was out with a concussion early, making punts a risky proposition. However, at the end of the first half, the Raiders signaled their intentions by settling for a field goal on fourth and one from the one yard line, despite trailing 10-3 at the time.

That decision was probably the wrong one — Oakland didn’t get inside the 20 again until the game was out of reach — but failing to score the touchdown would have been a tough on morale, so it’s semi-understandable early in the game (TMQ was frantically scribbling “game over” in his notebook, of course). However, the second half became comical. Oakland had two fourth and ones between the 20s in the third quarter. On the first, the second string long snapper bounced it up to Shane Lechler, who wisely tucked the ball and fell forward to avoid a block (“GAME OVER” in all caps). On the second, the snap was okay, but someone missed an assignment and the punt was easily blocked (“GAME OVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”).

The Raiders defense didn’t get the memo, though, and played their tails off, holding the Chargers to successive field goals (it helped that Phil Rivers seems legitimately afraid of the blitz). When the Raiders faced a third and 21 later on, they were still in the game, and they should have thought ahead. As innovate Kevin Kelley of Pulaski Academy in Little Rock puts it (the man who inspired Louisiana-Monroe’s strategy in their gutsy upset of Arkansas on Saturday),

If you get to the point where you know you’re going to go for it no matter what, you don’t even get in that situation because it changes the dynamics of the play-calling. We don’t have to throw on third-and-6 because we know we still have fourth down.

Well, when you can’t snap the ball, third and six might as well be third and 21. Instead, Carson Palmer heaved a desperation 25 yard pass with little chance of  success, the Raiders decided to punt, and, lo and behold, the snap dribbled back to Lechler just in time for him to get hammered again.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. The Raiders are on their tenth coach since 1995. Tom Cable and Hue Jackson were both fired after posting 8-8 records in 2010 and 2011, respectively (showing improvement from a 5-11 campaign in 2009). The Oakland coaching carousel may have encouraged new man Dennis Allen to play to keep it close, not to win. In that environment, it’s safer to punt (and blame the backup long snapper if needed) than to take a chance.

Random Additional Notes

The game had a couple other interesting situations (including two of my favorite opportunities for innovation):

  1. Both Curtis Brinkley (really dynamic backup running back for the Chargers) and Darren McFadden (Raiders) had a chance for the “running back throwaway” in the fourth quarter. The idea here is simple: chuck the ball past the line of scrimmage and out of bounds on sweeps that are bottled up. Instead, Brinkley lost 5 or 6 yards and McFadden lost 11 (putting the Raiders in the third and 21 mentioned above and keeping the clock running).
  2. The final series was bizarre. Up eight, the Chargers had to run off 54 seconds (the Raiders had two timeouts). They could have run it off easily in three downs by scooting around the backfield but instead ran into the line twice, leaving 3 seconds on fourth down. No matter — as I discussed in my football riddle last year (and Trent Dilfer mentioned on air), a roll out and throwaway can kill 7 or 8 seconds. Instead, the Chargers brought in the punter (did they watch the same game I did with three failed punts?). The snap was good, and I thought the punter would just eat it, but he actually punted! Not to be outdone, the Raiders put no one back to receive the kick, and TMQ breathed a sigh of relief.
  3. On their final drive, the Raiders had to go for it on fourth down anyway. Guess what? They converted a fourth and five and a fourth and three (on incomplete passes, saved by defensive penalties). Along with the usual reasons, I suspect that teams punt too often early in games because they want to put off the pain — a standard procrastination argument. If you’re losing, you probably have to take chances at some point to get back in it. Avoiding the small risks early on and punting is like putting a charge on your credit card: it costs nothing at the time, but it would be better to swallow the pill upfront, because it comes back with interest as the clock winds down (the Raiders’ desperation conversions were longer yardage situations but the clock gave them no choice).

Check out other great articles at Causal Sports Fan.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Gregg Marshall's show canceled, Bama speculation grows

Report: Shaka Smart in discussions with Texas

Report: Rick Barnes expected to land at Tennessee

Demaryius Thomas planning to skip Broncos' workouts

Rockets GM: We think we can win NBA title despite injuries

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Browns GM Ray Farmer suspended over text messages

Aaron Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box after murder

Byron Scott: Opposing players say they want to play for Lakers

Falcons reportedly will lose pick over pumping in crowd noise

Report: Sam Bradford wouldn't sign extension with Browns

Jimbo Fisher: Winston is victim of ‘character assassination’

Joe Namath parties with twin 100 year-old women

WATCH: Mike Napoli hits home run as bat shatters

WATCH: Marc Gasol misses shot, rips jersey in disgust

PHOTO: Minor league team to wear Jabba the Hutt jerseys

Lions LB DeAndre Levy takes ride on top of a moving plane

Colts owner addresses Indiana religious freedom bill

John Calipari addresses controversial ND comments

Arizona coach Sean Miller rips critics: 'Go cheer for ASU'

Report: NFL could push extra point back to 15-yard line

Urban Meyer: 'No issue' with Braxton Miller's Instagram post

Tiger Woods drops out of top 100 for first time in 19 years

Top 10 stories from NCAA Tourney's second weekend

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Namath parties with 100 yr-old women

Report: Shaka Smart talking to Texas

Rick Barnes to land at Tennessee?

Browns GM suspended for texts

Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box

Mayweather-Pacquiao: It's sparring tall-tale season

The MLBPA has a problem

Final Four preview: Can every team win?

Full WrestleMania 31 recap and results

Why Texas had to fire Rick Barnes

Craig Sager's leukemia has returned

Report: Chris Mullin to take St. John's job

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.