How Raiders powered to dramatic OT win over Chargers in last game of regular season to snatch final playoff spot


The first 17-game season in the 102-year history of pro football is over, and we have our 14-team playoff bracket. And we have a few other items of note.

But I am still trying to process the end of game 272—Raiders 35, Chargers 32, in overtime, sending Vegas to the playoffs, sending befuddled L.A. home, and sending the rest of us to Harvard to study Tieology.

Truth in columnizing: I talked to Roethlisberger around 8 ET Sunday night, then finished the above chunk of the column about 10:20, then caught up with the SNF game while finishing the Awards section and a few other things. Around 11, the game sucked me in, and I was transfixed, and Justin Herbert gave the Chargers adrenalin, and then it was in overtime, and I started to get this feeling that all the Roethlisberger stuff above could be naught. This damn thing could end in a tie. A tie, incredibly, would leave the AFC with three 9-7-1 teams fighting for the last two AFC playoff spots, and the Steelers would be out by tiebreaker.

I imagined the Steelers sitting home watching this game, stomachs sinking. We were just celebrating making the playoffs! You can’t just take back Mike Tomlin dancing on Instagram! Sure enough, I looked at Twitter as the clock wound down below a minute. “Nonononono not like this,” tweeted Chase Claypool.

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and Chargers pass rusher Joey Bosa. (Getty Images)

More truth in columnizing: I think it’s impossible to say anything with certainty about how this game should have been played at the end, and what split-second decisions should have been made. No NFL coach has ever had to consider the options that L.A.’s Brandon Staley and Vegas’ Rich Bisacchia had to consider. No coach ever got to the final seconds of the last game and thought about whether to play for the tie or the win, with playoff berths for both on the line, on the edge of a cliff.

One spot in the final minute is particularly vexing to figure. The Raiders had the ball, third-and-four at the Chargers’ 39, clock ticking below one minute to play. Both teams had both overtime timeouts left. Would both teams just let the clock run and not try to score, putting both in the playoffs? Would they play it safe and avoid risking a turnover or, in the Raiders’ case, a blocked field goal?

Or would the Raiders, at least, try to score? A win would send them to Cincinnati, a tie to Kansas City. I doubt Bisaccia would purposely do what he could to tie; surely he’d rather win, to avoid playing a team he lost to by 27 and 39 points this year.

As the clock wound down on the third-and-four play, Derek Carr prepped to take a snap in the shotgun. So he wasn’t planning to kneel. At the 38-second mark, Staley called a timeout. He posited that the Raiders were going to run, and he wanted time to put his best run-defenders in the game. He said later he wanted to put the Raiders back as far as possible in case they were going to try a field goal. The best run defense came in the game … and running back Josh Jacobs still ran for 10 yards. Now Bisaccia let the clock wind down to two seconds, and kicker Daniel Carlson came to try a 47-yard field goal. It was good, and the Raiders won by three.

A hundred questions, but if Staley hadn’t called time, I find it hard to believe the Raiders wouldn’t have tried to convert the third down against the personnel Staley had on the field. If they made the four yards, would they have use a timeout and tried one more run to get closer for a Carlson field goal? Would they have tried a longer Carlson field goal than the 47-yarder he made? We don’t know. It depended, I think, on how many yards Jacobs gained on third-and-four. The 10-yard gain made the field-goal choice pretty easy.

The Las Vegas win let the Steelers breathe. It set up Staley for an offseason of second-guessing. I don’t think that’s fair. We just don’t know what would have happened if the Raiders ran the third-and-four against a different defense. As it is, Roethlisberger and the Steelers, not the Raiders, take the trip to Kansas City. Vegas gets the Bengals.

The playoff timetable:


Las Vegas (10-7, AFC 5 seed) at Cincinnati (10-7, AFC 4 seed), 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC/Peacock. Derek Carr’s 128th NFL start will be his first in the playoffs. Joe Burrow will also make his first playoff start, and he’ll treat it like a trip to the grocery store. The man just doesn’t know what pressure is.  

New England (10-7, AFC 6 seed) at Buffalo (11-6, AFC 3 seed), 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS. The league is euphoric with this golden matchup for primetime. Not sure the Bills—losers to New England in Orchard Park 35 days ago—are so thrilled. Long-range forecast for the gamesite Saturday night: 17 degrees, 50 percent chance of snow. Yippee!

New England Patriots Vs. Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium
Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise. (Getty Images)


Philadelphia (9-8, NFC 7 seed) at Tampa Bay (13-4, NFC 2 seed), 1:05 p.m. ET, FOX. Eagles beat one team with a winning record this year (9-8 New Orleans), which seems like an issue. Bucs had to go on the road for all three NFC playoff games last year. This year, they could be home for two.

San Francisco (10-7, NFC 6 seed) at Dallas (12-5, NFC 3 seed), 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS. Niners are 7-2 in the last two months, but their high-water mark for points in that run is 31. They may have to exceed that to have a shot at beating the Cowboys.

Pittsburgh (9-7-1, AFC 7 seed) at Kansas City (12-5, AFC 2 seed) 8:15 p.m. ET, NBC. Fifteen days ago, one of the most embarrassing losses of the Tomlin Era—KC 36, Pittsburgh 10—happened. Not exactly sure, after all the Roethlisberger emotion, how the Steelers will be able to clean that up.  


Arizona (11-6, NFC 5 seed) at L.A. Rams (12-5, NFC 4 seed), 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN. The NFL chose this game for the first Monday night playoff game ever, and I suppose it could be sexier/more competitive than Pats-Bills or Steelers-KC. Cards enter the playoffs in a bad (1-4) stretch, so we’ll see if they can recover against a team they beat by 17 at SoFi three months ago.

Read more in Peter King’s full Football Morning in America column

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft CB Rankings: Devon Witherspoon highlights loaded draft class


The 2023 NFL Draft is growing nearer, with just weeks remaining until teams make selections that could alter the future of their franchise forever.

A solid secondary is crucial to any team’s defensive prowess, and for the teams looking to tighten up in coverage, this year’s draft is the one to do so.

The 2023 NFL Draft cornerback class is an incredibly deep one, but which corner will be first off the board? Chris Simms unveiled his 2023 NFL Draft Cornerback rankings this week on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast, posting Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon at the top of his list of corners in this year’s crop.

But trailing Witherspoon very closely are four other potential NFL superstars, with Simms ranking Michigan’s DJ Turner at No. 2, Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez at No. 3, Maryland’s Deonte Banks at No. 4 and Georgia’s Kelee Ringo at No. 5.

The 2023 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, April 27, and end on Saturday, April 29. The first round will take place on Thursday with rounds two and three airing on Friday and rounds four through seven on Saturday. Click here for Simms’ quarterback rankings,and here for his list of top wide receivers.

RELATED: When is the 2023 NFL Draft? Date, start time, location, Round 1 order

Simms’ Top Five CB prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft

Tier One

1. Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

2. DJ Turner, Michigan

3. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

Tier Two

4. Deonte Banks, Maryland

Tier Three

5. Kelee Ringo, Georgia

RELATED: 2023 NFL Draft order: Complete list of every pick from Round 1 through Round 7

Simms Breaks Down 2023 Draft CB Rankings

The following are highlights from Simms’ CB draft rankings. For Simms’ in-depth analysis, read below for a breakdown on each prospect and be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for an unfiltered look at the NFL, featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown, and stories from a life in and around football.

No. 1: Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

What Simms said: “This guy is must-see TV. He’s up there with one of the most twitchy, sudden people I’ve ever seen in my life to the point where when he takes off, you’re like, ‘Wait, is that real? Did he really get to full speed in half a step?’ … Bump or off, both are phenomenol —  it’s rare to have that. He’s got very good play strength for a guy that’s 5’11” and a half at 181 lbs. He doesn’t know that, he thinks he’s 220 … It’s efficient and easy. He’s sudden and can see the ability to accelerate whether it’s downhill or sticking the foot in the ground and changing direction. As compared to my No. 2 and No. 3 guy, he might be a hair tighter in his hips, but his twitchiness and explosion and acceleration … you just start to go, ‘What does this guy not have, besides the fact that he’s not 6’2” or over 200 lbs.’ He’s phenomenol.”

No. 2: DJ Turner, Michigan

What Simms said: “To me, (DJ Turner is) the most technically sound corner in the draft. There’s nobody better at technique. Like Witherspoon, the ability to mirror receivers at the line of scrimmage, the quick feet, it’s phenomenol. His hips are better than Witherspoon … His ability to flip those hips, turn and break on the ball, it’s right up there. It’s actually more smooth hip-wise than it is for Devon Witherspoon … What more can you say about the guy? Start-stop ability, amazing. Make-up speed, amazing. Other than Witherspoon, I think he’s put in the second-most tough spots out of anybody I’ve watched in this. He plays man-to-man, in your face a ton against big-time receivers. He’s awesome defending double moves. He could be the best nickel or outside guy, and he’s also the fastest guy in the draft. He’s got it all.”

No. 3: Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

What Simms said: “There’s not much to pick apart here … He’s got a little more size and meat on his bones. The Tee Higgins of the world, the bigger receivers of the world, they’re gonna have a harder time pushing him around and doing that stuff. He’s got incredible ball skills … He looks prototype. He looks Darrelle Revis, Champ Bailey-ish in his uniform …  He just wasn’t as edgy as the other guys … He’s gonna match up better with DeAndre Hopkins than the other two. But I don’t know if he’ll match up better with Jaylen Waddle or Ja’Marr Chase than the other two … But his technique is real. He’s a top-20 pick. You talk size, technique and straight speed, of course this guy is one of the top corners in the draft.” 

No. 4: Deonte Banks, Maryland

What Simms said: “He has more measurables like Gonzalez. 6 foot, 197 lbs., there’s a thickness to him and a power and strength element that certainly jumps out. Let alone, speed is Real Deal Holyfield … man-to-man, great legs, runs easy … He’s comfortable in his speed. He’s never panicked. He’s comfortable in going, ‘You have a step on me? That’s fine, I’m good,’ … But he’s also incredible, like Witherspoon and Turner, at getting on top of people when they try to run a go-route. No one can ever really get around him for the most part … He’s sticky as hell, he’s got very good feet, but he doesn’t know how to use his hands at all yet. So he’s not really that great at jamming people at the line of scrimmage, but he’s never not there … I thought his ability to play the ball and create PBUs in those 50/50 situations where the quarterback tries to throw the ball back shoulder and all that, he’s got a great feel and vision to be able to cover and see the throw at the same time that I was very impressed with.”

No. 5: Kelee Ringo, Georgia

What Simms said: “When you turn on the film, you go, ‘What? This guy’s a corner, he’s not a safety?’ Because he has a prototype safety vibe … Against the bigger, straight-liner guys, nobody’s gonna push this dude around. That’s certainly not going to be an issue, that along with the straight speed. Hey, the change of direction stuff is not beautiful. He’s a little heavy-footed because he’s a bigger guy … but it’s not bad … When he opens up, he can really go; obviously with a 4.36 second 40 time … He’s very smooth as far as an athlete overall.” 

For more preview content of the 2023 NFL Draft, stay tuned to Chris Simms UnbuttonedProFootballTalk and NBC Sports EDGE for all the latest updates, player analysis and mock drafts.

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft Position Rankings: The top QBs, WRs, RBs, and more ahead of draft weekend


The 2023 NFL Draft takes place on Thursday, April 27 through Saturday, April 29 in Kansas City, Missouri. Click here for the full first-round draft order to find out when your team is picking.

Ahead of this year’s draft, Chris Simms has already started analyzing the top prospects by position on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast. So far, Simms has revealed his highly anticipated list of the top 5 quarterback prospects and wide receivers. See below to find out who made the top 5 names for each position and be sure to check back for updates!

Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL Draft as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL, featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown, and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: When is the 2023 NFL Draft? Date, start time, location, Round 1 order

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft Position Rankings:

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft QB Rankings:

  1. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
  2. Bryce Young, Alabama
  3. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
  4. Anthony Richardson, Florida
  5. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA and Will Levis, Kentucky

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft WR Rankings:

  1. Zay Flowers, Boston College
  2. Jaxon Smith-Njibga, Ohio State
  3. Quentin Jonston, TCU
  4. Michael Wilson, Stanford
  5. Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee

Chris Simms 2023 NFL Draft Cornerback Rankings

  1. Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
  2. DJ Turner, Michigan
  3. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
  4. Deonte Banks, Maryland
  5. Kelee Ringo, Georgia

How can I watch the 2023 NFL Draft live?

ESPN, ABC, and NFL Network will air all seven rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft.

What time does the NFL Draft start?

The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft will get underway on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Rounds two and three will commence Friday at 7 p.m. ET, with Saturday’s final rounds at 12 p.m.

Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2023 NFL Season and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!