Steelers fans thank Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson by giving to charities he supports

As Las Vegas kicker Daniel Carlson sent his fifth field goal of the Raiders’ Week 18 game through the uprights, and the overtime clock struck triple zeroes, two NFL fansbases erupted with joy.

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One was the Raiders’ faithful, of course, because thanks to the thrilling 35-32 victory against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Raiders are in the NFL postseason for the first time since 2016 as the AFC’s No. 5 seed. Meanwhile, Carlson’s kick eliminated the division-rival Chargers.

The other fanbase celebrating was that of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Heading into Sunday’s games, the Steelers needed a win and some help to get into the postseason. Yet by Sunday night, after their own 16-13 overtime victory at Baltimore and a Jaguars upset of the Colts, the only result that would keep Pittsburgh out of the playoffs was a Raiders-Chargers tie.

Not likely, but then the game happened.

Two fourth-quarter Chargers touchdowns (including one as time expired in regulation) and a two-point conversion sent the game to overtime. The two teams then exchanged field goals before the Raiders got into position for Carlson’s game-winning kick in the final seconds. Had he missed, the Raiders and Chargers would have been in the playoffs with a tie and the Steelers would have been left out.

Instead, the Raiders will head to Cincinnati on Saturday (4:30 p.m. ET) to take on the No. 4-seeded Bengals in the AFC wild-card round, while the Steelers will play at the No. 2-seeded Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday (8:15 p.m. ET).

Carlson’s five field goals earned him the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week Award — becoming the first kicker to ever win four such awards in one season — and also, apparently, thousands of new friends in black and gold.

As a gesture of gratitude for helping their favorite team, Steelers fans have been making donations this week to charities with which Carlson is affiliated. Some of the charities include the faith-based aTeam Ministries, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada and After-School All-Stars of greater Las Vegas.

In his fourth year as a pro after becoming one of the most prolific kickers in Auburn history, Carlson was one of the NFL’s best kickers this season. He made an NFL-best 40 of 43 field goals, including six of seven from more than 50 yards and an impressive five game-winners. Yet an NFL career wasn’t one of Carlson’s dreams — that was soccer — until God began to change his plans in high school.

“Time and time again, I think I’m fine pursuing my own plans,” he said in 2018. “But then everything completely changes, and I see that God’s plan is so much better than anything I could have ever dreamed up.”

It’s his faith in God, he says, that helps him to stay calm and perform well under pressure. Carlson’s favorite Bible passage is Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Carlson has it listed in both his Instagram and Twitter bios, and refers to it sometimes in his posts.

“It is such a cool, surreal experience to look back on all that God has given me,” he said in 2018. “Playing is my form of worship. It is how I glorify Him. And all of this is so much better than I ever expected.”

Regardless of whether Carlson is called upon to deliver another game-winner on Saturday, he can rest assured that his worth is found in the One who holds all things in His hands.

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