You hear it all the time how the smallest things in football mean the difference between winning and losing. Usually the saying is that it’s a game of inches. This game came down to the snap of a ball on a one-point play.
With just over 8 minutes left in the game, Raiders receiver Cordarrelle Patterson came on an end around, got a block from Jared Cook on the outside, and cut up the field, outrunning the defense for a 47-yard touchown to take a 16-14 lead.
It was just the break the Raiders needed. All that was left to complete the play was the ‘routine’ extra point.
First year kicker Giorgio Tavecchio hadn’t missed a field goal or extra point all season. There was no reason to believe that streak wouldn’t continue on this play to put the Raiders up three points. But he missed it. Specifically, long snapper Jon Condo missed it. The ball was high on the snap and it disrupted the attempt and it missed wide left.
“I had a bad snap,” Condo said after the game. “Marquette did a good job getting it down and Giorgio did the best that he could to get it through.”
Condo apologized to Tavecchio, telling him “This is my fault.” As you might expect, Tavecchio wouldn’t put the blame on Condo. He said he needed to be more poised, but it was clearly no fault of his.
We wouldn’t be talking about a missed extra point had it not ended up being considerably costly. But in this case it absolutely was. The Raiders had a 2-point lead which means all the Chargers would have to do is drive for a field goal to win it.
Initially the defense did their job. They stopped the Chargers for a three-and-out and forced a punt with just over six minutes left. Then it was up to the offense to try and add to the lead. They too went three-and-out.
They gave Philip Rivers another shot to seal the game with a drive into field goal range. And this time he made the Raiders pay, draining the clock on a long drive and Nick Novak came out to seal it as time expired. So, now we are talking about that missed extra point. And Condo feels responsible.
“I let the team down,” Condo continued. “The team practices all week to go out there and do their job. I had my opportunity to go out there and do my job and I didn’t come through.”
It’s not at all fair to put this game on Condo’s shoulders alone. The usual very dependable, 13-year veteran made a mistake. It happens.
What is in no way Condo’s fault is how he was put in the position where his snap on an extra point was so crucial to the outcome of the game.
It isn’t Condo’s fault that Derek Carr threw two interceptions. It isn’t Condo’s fault his team fumbled three times (none lost). It isn’t Condo’s fault the Raiders didn’t use play action. It isn’t Condo’s fault the offense had six of the Raiders ten possessions ended scoreless in four plays or less.
It isn’t Condo’s fault on the two Chargers touchdown drives the defense gave up five third down and long (5 yards or more) conversions and a final third down conversion that allowed the Chargers to drain the clock and end the game.
After last season in which the Raiders were the scoring an average of 26 points per game, now they’re trying to get 17 points to beat a one-win team? They haven’t broken the 17-point threshold in their 4-game losing streak, and that’s all the Chargers needed to leave Oakland with the win. That’s pathetic.
None of that is Condo’s fault. We shouldn’t even be having this conversation. Condo shouldn’t be answering questions and taking the blame for a loss on a high snap on an extra point. That’s not to remove the accountability he is taking for his mistake. It’s to spread out the blame where it belongs.
And no, Derek Carr, we’re not letting you take all the blame either, so don’t even think about it. It’s just another week of a full team collapse. No amount of perfect snaps is going to fix that.