The LA Chargers won a back-and-forth doozy in Week 3 against the Minnesota Vikings to move to 1-2 on the season. Both teams entered the game with an 0-2 record with the losing team likely getting into a hole that will be too big to dig out of.
It was a must-win game for both teams and the Bolts were able to prevail on the road despite questionable antics from the referees. That almost did not happen, though, as the Vikings had first and goal to win the game at the end of the fourth quarter. Kenneth Murray made a great play on a bobbled pass to intercept Kirk Cousins and win the game.
The entire reason why the Vikings were in that position was because of Brandon Staley's aggressiveness. Staley went for it on fourth and one from his own 24-yard-line to put the game on ice. The Chargers did not pick up the first down and Minnesota took over with a very short field.
If the Vikings had scored there and successfully milked all the clock to keep Justin Herbert off the field then it would have been really hard for ownership to look at Staley the same way. Staley, who is already on the hot seat, could have lost his job because of this decision.
Chargers' Brandon Staley gets slammed for fourth-down decision against Vikings
It is safe to say that NFL media did not take kindly to Staley's decision to go for it on fourth down instead of punting the ball away. FOX's Jimmy Johnson straight-up called it a "dumb call", while others are wondering who will be fired first between Staley and Sean Payton (who is now 0-3 in Denver and got 70 points dropped on his head).
If Minnesota would have scored a touchdown there then Staley would have been critiqued even further. And while that is the easy thing to do since it was an unconventional decision, Staley's decision to go for it on fourth down actually makes some sense in the grand picture.
Minnesota had no timeouts but the team still had plenty of time to drive down the field and score a touchdown. The Chargers have one of the worst defenses in the league that has allowed the most explosive plays in the sport. As sad as it sounds, the odds of the Vikings scoring if they took over from their own 40 instead of the Chargers' 24 is probably similar.
Plus, in the case that Minnesota scored, in theory, the Chargers would have more time to counter if the Vikings took over at the 24. If Minnesota would have received a punt and eventually scored then there is a good chance that Justin Herbert would not have even had a chance to take the field.
Most importantly, the Chargers offense was humming all game and Herbert is a first-down machine on quarterback sneaks. That is where this call was egregious.
Staley going for it was unconventional and risky, but it was not an awful decision on fourth and one. The awful part of this decision was running a full-back dive play when the Bolts don't even have a real full-back on the roster. Instead, the team could have run the fail-proof QB sneak with their six-six quarterback.
Justified or not, Staley green-lit the full-back dive and if the Bolts would have lost he rightfully would have taken all the blame. After a decision like that, it would not have been surprising if Dean Spanos uncharacteristically pulled the plug early in the season.