Chargers Legend Shawne Merriman Gets Honest on “Roller-Coaster” Season Finale While Slamming the Brandon Staley Haters

The Week 18 game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers will be remembered for a long time. After the Chargers looked ost, they somehow engineered a 15-point comeback in the fourth quarter thanks to the right arm of Justin Herbert.

Then, in overtime, both teams kicked field goals, and it looked as if the Raiders were going to run out the clock and end the game in a tie. But, the Brandon Staley timeout appeared to change the course of the game, and Las Vegas elected to kick a buzzer-beating game-winning field goal to send the Raiders to the NFL Playoffs.

The Staley timeout will be discussed for a long, and former Chargers Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman discussed the wild game while ripping into the “Fire Staley” crowd.

Shawne Merriman discusses the “roller-coaster” Chargers-Raiders finale

The Chargers-Raiders clash was easily the best game of the season. Playoff spots on the line, the Pittsburgh Steelers were holding their breath, and all the drama that unfolded made this game a must-watch.

The Chargers looked done, and Herbert delivered time and time again to give his team a fighting chance. On the last play of regulation, he dropped a beautiful touchdown pass to Mike Williams to set up the game-tying extra point in a masterful drive.

Merriman was at Allegiant Stadium for the game and told Sportscasting just how unreal the game was — and how impressive Herbert’s performance was.

“I was there in a person, and let me tell you, I haven’t been on a roller-coaster like that since Six Flags. Just even starting out the game, it seemed like they always had an opportunity. And then to see Justin Herbert convert all those fourth downs, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that in my life.”

Shawne Merriman on Chargers-Raiders Week 18 game

“Roller-coaster” is the perfect way to describe this game. The Raiders jumped out to the lead, and the Chargers took it back. Then a highly-questionable pass interference call allowed Las Vegas to score a touchdown and take the lead into halftime.

Then an unworldly fourth-quarter comeback followed by a confusing, puzzling overtime period. It had everything, ups, downs, twists, turns; you name it.

The Chargers season ended in Sin City, but this game will go down as one of the greatest in recent history.

The former Chargers Pro Bowl LB backs Brandon Staley after a controversial ending

The Chargers rookie head coach garnered a ton of attention after the game. The timeout he took toward the end of overtime appeared to change the game’s outcome, although nobody knows if the Raiders were going to run out the clock.

More than that, Staley’s aggressiveness was on full display once again (surprise, surprise). He decided to go for it on 4th-and1 in the third quarter with the ball on the LA 18-yard line. They failed to convert, and the Raiders got the ball and ended up with a chip-shot field goal because of it.

That call was controversial, although Staley’s fourth-down decisions aren’t anything new. Merriman backed the Chargers ‘ first-year head coach as the internet and analysts had their takes on Staley’s decisions.

“First off, this is a first-year head coach that was fighting for a playoff position. I see people saying he shouldn’t have went for and this and that, and I’ve seen people say he should be fired. What the hell are you talking about? This is your first time doing this as a head coach, and it’s something to build off of. And more importantly, he’s already gotten the players to buy into one direction, and that is hard to do for anybody, especially a first-year head coach.”

Shawne Merriman on Brandon Staley

Time and time again, Staley has rolled the dice in high-leverage situations such as these. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But, he never backs down and the Chargers have bought in entirely to the demeanor of the new head coach and former LA Rams defensive coordinator.

Stick with what got you there, and Staley never wavered. Unfortunately, this time it didn’t quite work out.

The offseason begins earlier than expected for Brandon Staley’s team but the future remains bright

Former Chargers LB Shawne Merriman backs Brandon Staley after wild game vs Raiders.
Shawne Merriman and Brandon Staley | Michael Wade/ Steve Marcus/ Icon Sportswire via Getty Images / Getty Images

Weeks ago, the Chargers controlled their destiny. That was before an ugly loss to the Houston Texans shifted the standings and forced LA into relying on others.

They came so close, and one or two plays easily could have changed the outcome of this game. Andre Roberts fumbled a punt, the run defense couldn’t stop Josh Jacobs, and Joe Lombardi’s play-calling was a bit puzzling.

Nonetheless, a 9-8 season in Staley’s first year isn’t bad, and now the Chargers head to the drawing board to address some areas in the NFL Draft and free agency.

Although the season ended in disappointment for the Chargers, Staley and his group will be back next year with a vengeance.

Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference

RELATED: Why Brandon Staley’s Timeout Did Not Cost the Chargers a Playoff Spot in the NFL Playoffs