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Raiders should have opted for Polish Cannon over Hail Mary

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 12: Place kicker Sebastian Janikowski #11 of the Oakland Raiders kicks a 63 yard field goal from the hold of Shane Lechler #9 of the Oakland Raiders with five seconds remaining in the first half to give the Raiders a 16-3 lead over the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 12, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Janikowski’s kick of 63 yards tied the NFL field goal record as the Raiders defeated the Broncos 23-20. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

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Lost in the confusion regarding the final play of the Raiders-Bills game, which featured an interception in the end zone by Da’Norris Searcy that was unexpectedly reviewed via replay for reasons neither obvious nor apparent, is the broader question of whether the Raiders should have gone not for the win but for the tie.

Football Night in America editorial consultant Elliott Kalb raised a great point after the game ended. With the Raiders trailing 38-35 at their own 44 and with time for only one more play, Sebastian Janikowski could have forced overtime with a 73-yard field goal.

Yes, it sounds a little nutty to assume Janikowski would have had a shot at nailing one from even the limits of the range of a Disney donkey that perfected the rarely-used back-of-heel kicking motion, but a week ago Janikowski hit a 63-yarder in Denver, after making a 70-yarder before the game.

What’s that, you say? Sunday’s game wasn’t played at Colorado’s mile-high altitude?

That’s correct, but as Elliott pointed out when I raised the same question, Janikowski attempted a 76-yarder in Oakland on September 28, 2008, before halftime of a game against the Chargers. Though the kick was no good, the question becomes whether the chances of making a very long field goal were greater than the chances of converting on a Hail Mary pass, which maybe works once a year on a league-wide basis.

Given the unique skills of the man known as the Polish Cannon, giving him a chance to force a tie may have been more fruitful than praying for a Hail Mary win.