A Wild Weekend in the NFL Leading into Wildcard Weekend


Caiden Lujin, Staff Writer

One of the unlikeliest scenarios in American sports history came last Sunday as the NFL world was flipped upside down on its final night of action. A month out from the 2022 Super Bowl from SoFi stadium in Los Angeles, the playoff picture is set.

The madness began at noon when the Indianapolis Colts took on the worst team in the NFL – the Jacksonville Jaguars. To guarantee a spot in the playoffs, all the Colts had to do was beat a struggling Jaguars team but lost 26-11, opening up a path to the playoffs for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Las Vegas Raiders, and Los Angeles Chargers. After the Steelers won their game against the Baltimore Ravens, they were pretty much guaranteed to make the playoffs – unless there was a highly unlikely tie between the Raiders and Chargers later that day.

It was never that far-fetched for this tie to occur, though, because after the Colts’ loss, it meant if the Chargers and Raiders tied their game intentionally, both teams would automatically make the playoffs, eliminating the Steelers. Throughout Sunday, the NFL world was buzzing about whether the teams would go through with it. After the first play of the game, it was clear neither team had that intention, though, and the Raiders jumped out to a 29-13 lead in the fourth quarter. Astonishingly, the Chargers came back and tied it on the last play of the game, sending it into overtime.

NFL rules state that if both teams still have the same amount of points when overtime is up, the game will result in a tie. The score 32-32 with under a minute remaining, the unprecedented idea of tying a game on purpose came back into play. After a highly controversial timeout by Chargers coach Brandon Staley, though, the Raiders were in field goal range and won 35-32 with 2 seconds left. Two teams looking out for the others’ championship aspirations has never been documented in sports history, especially in the same manner as this situation.

To make things even crazier, it’s no doubt Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers quarterback in his 19th and final season in the NFL, was watching this game on the flight back home to Pittsburgh anxious as ever, as a tie would’ve knocked his team out of the playoffs instantly. The chances that Pittsburgh even made it in to begin with were extremely low, but their spot was almost ripped away by an even unlikelier occurrence in Las Vegas. This sequence of events probably sounds like gibberish to non-sports-watchers, but it will go down in history as one of the biggest “almosts” in NFL history.

The NFL’s Super Wild Card Weekend is set to kick off this weekend as teams jockey for a spot in the 55th annual Super Bowl, set for February 7th. If last weekend was any indication, sports fans are in for a world of excitement this football playoff season.