Brandon Staley

Head coach Brandon Staley of the Los Angeles Chargers gestures during a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 35-32 in overtime. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images/TNS)

LAS VEGAS — The Las Vegas Raiders are in the playoffs.

In the most improbable of finishes, the Raiders' Daniel Carlson kicked a 40-yard field goal at the end of overtime to beat the Los Angeles Chargers 35-32 Sunday night.

The Raiders are in the playoffs for the first time since the 2016 season and will meet the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC wild-card game as the fifth seed on Saturday.

"So proud of my teammates and coaches," Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby said. "Just believing in these guys. We've had ups and downs all season, but we have guys who love football. We just got dudes with heart and just kept going out there, no matter how many times we had to get a stop. It was ugly and one of the most stressful games I've ever been a part of, but we got the win."

For now, the Raiders are going to embrace this win, led by Derek Carr's 30th game-winning drive.

Earlier in the day, the Raiders were close to clinching their first playoffs, but the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled out a win over the Baltimore Ravens, 16-13.

A loss by the Steelers would've clinched a playoff berth for the Raiders before their game against the Chargers.

Instead, the Raiders needed a win or a tie against the Chargers.

They almost settled for the tie. The Chargers forced overtime with a touchdown on the last play of regulation then the teams traded field goals to start overtime. A tie would've sent both teams to the playoffs.

"We knew we didn't want a tie," Carr said.

Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia said they were in conversation of running down the clock to settle for the tie, but "we ran the ball there and they didn't call a timeout."

"We had the big run and got us, what we thought was in field goal range," he said. "We were going to take the field goal and try to win it."

It has been a chaotic season for the Raiders whose head coach Jon Gruden resigned during the season and Henry Ruggs III arrested for an alleged DUI fatal crash.

The Raiders still found a way to get back into the playoff race, picking up four straight wins.

"We got a group of guys that genuinely care about each other," Raiders running back Josh Jacobs said. "With all the outside noise and all the things that was going on, I feel like all the guys collectively put their head down and worked. We're clicking at the right time, hopefully we can keep it going."

For the first time in Carr's NFL career, he'll be playing in the playoffs. He missed the wild-card game in 2016 because of an ankle injury.

"We made it to the playoffs. It's awesome," he said. "It's probably the coolest accomplishment, I think I've ever had in my life, football wise. To see where we were at, everything that we went through and to still make it, no record, this is the coolest thing to see this team come together and to be able to decide this is what we wanted to do. It's a cool feeling."

This story was originally published  January 9, 2022 9:23 PM.


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