For their final game of the year, the Oakland Raiders headed east to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs. The Raiders were coming off a 23-20 win over the San Diego Chargers and the Chiefs were coming off a 17-13 win over the Cleveland Browns. After starting the year 1-5, the Chiefs had won nine straight games and earned a spot in the playoffs. Kicker Sebastian Janikowksi sent the opening kickoff deep into the cold Kansas City air and it went through the end zone. The Chiefs started at their 20-yard line and I would really love to know what kind of scheme the Raiders were playing. Everything the Chiefs tried went for big gains and they cruised down the field with ease. Quarterback Alex Smith completed passes to tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. The ground game was working nicely too. Charcandrick West had no problem finding holes to run through. On first down from the Oakland 25, Smith tossed a pass to Maclin and he ran untouched into the end zone. Kicker Cairo Santos made the point after and the Chiefs went up 7-0 with 10:52 to go in the first quarter.
The Raiders managed to get a few first downs on their first drive. But on third and eight from the Kansas City 48, quarterback Derek Carr was sacked for a loss of one yard by safety Ron Parker. The ball came loose but it was recovered by the Raiders. Marquette King punted and the Chiefs regained possession at their 13-yard line. We would be seeing a lot of King today. On third and four from the 19, Smith couldn’t find anyone open and he scrambled up the right side for nine yards and a first down at the 28. Two runs by running back Spencer Ware and a completion to wide receiver Albert Wilson had the Chiefs in Oakland territory again. From the 37, Smith found wide receiver Chris Conley wide open for a gain of 16 yards. That was followed by another pass to Maclin. He was brought down at the three-yard line. Ware capped the drive off with a three-yard touchdown run. Santos made the point after and the Chiefs led 14-0 with 51 seconds to go in the first quarter.
The Raiders got a spark on the ensuing kickoff. Return man Taiwan Jones fielded the kick eight yards deep in the end zone and returned it 71 yards to the Kansas City 38-yard line. Carr completed a 19-yard pass to tight end Clive Walford and running back Latavius Murray ran up the middle for a gain of four. Then they went backwards five yards due to a false start penalty. Murray caught a pass for a gain of ten and that set up a third and one situation. Murray ran up the left side and he was engulfed by red jerseys. He was thrown for a loss of one yard and Janikowksi came on for a 29-yard field goal attempt. It was good and the Chiefs led 14-3 with 13:40 to go in the second quarter.
Both teams punted on their next possessions. With 6:27 remaining, Smith looked for Wilson and the pass was picked off by cornerback T.J. Carrie at the 48-yard line. He was brought down at the 46 and the Raiders looked to capitalize on the turnover. A scramble by Carr was followed by a nine-yard run from Murray and a six-yard pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Running back Roy Helu ran up the middle for a gain of two and that made it third and two from the 24. Carr had all the time in the world on the next play. He could have easily run for the first down, but he opted to throw deep to wide receiver Amari Cooper. There’s only one problem with that. There was a guy in a red suit standing in front of Cooper and it wasn’t Santa Claus. It was Parker and he picked the pass off in the end zone. The Chiefs took over at the 20 and Smith looked for Wilson again. This time, the pass was picked off by cornerback David Amerson and returned for a touchdown. On his way into the end zone, he started high-stepping and pointing at Smith. That drew a flag for taunting. Janikowski made the point after and the Chiefs led 14-10 with 3:27 to go in the second quarter. Neither offense did anything worth writing about for the rest of the second quarter and the Chiefs took a four point lead into the locker room.
It was the same old story for the Raiders to start the second half. Three plays gained one yard and King punted. The Chiefs didn’t do much better and Dustin Colquitt punted the ball back to the Raiders. That’s when the Chiefs really brought the pressure. Carr was sacked twice and they were forced to punt again. I have no idea what rookie linebacker Ben Heeney was thinking on this play. Instead of staying in to block, he took off downfield. That left linebacker D.J. Alexander unblocked and he blocked the punt with ease. The ball went through the end zone for a safety. On the replay, Heeney was looking back at King as he was running up-field. Maybe he thought they were going to try a fake punt. Really? A fake punt from the five-yard line? I think not. The Chiefs now led 16-10 with nine minutes to go in the third quarter.
King punted and the Chiefs took over at their 47-yard line. On third and four from the Oakland 47, Smith hooked up with Maclin for a gain of 17 yards. Tack on a cheap roughing the passer penalty on linebacker Khalil Mack and the Chiefs were sitting pretty at the 15-yard line. From the 15, Smith fired a pass into the end zone that was caught by tight end Demetrius Harris for a touchdown. Santos made the point after and the Chiefs went up 23-10 with 7:03 to go in the third quarter.
That’s when more punting occurred. The Raiders couldn’t get anything going on offense and their star quarterback was running for his life and getting pretty roughed up in the process. It was truly hard to watch how badly the offensive line was playing. For Christmas, Carr bought each of his linemen a 55-inch television. Some of those players should give their televisions back to Carr. They were doing a horrible job of protecting him.
With 12 minutes to go in this nightmare of a game, the Chiefs took over at their 20. They proceeded to take nearly nine minutes off the clock as Ware and West ran right through the Raiders. On third and nine from the Oakland 19, Smith tossed a short pass to West and he was thrown for a loss of two yards by Heeney. Santos came on and his 39-yard field goal attempt was good. No it wasn’t. The Chiefs were flagged for holding and Santos would now have to try a 49-yard attempt. The snap was good, the hold was good and Santos just stood there. What the hell was he thinking? The Raiders came after the ball and Colquitt tossed the ball to Santos. He threw a short pass to Alexander and he was brought down after a gain of three yards. The Raiders took over at their 28-yard line.
A scramble by Carr, a short completion to wide receiver Seth Roberts and a taunting penalty on the Chiefs moved the Raiders to the Kansas City 45-yard line. A pass interference penalty on the Chiefs gave the Raiders another first down at the 31. From there, Carr went deep for Crabtree and he caught it for a touchdown. Despite some contact and what looked like offensive pass interference, the play stood. I know the Raiders were losing, but I still love to hear the crowd cry at Arrowhead Stadium. It sounded like 70,000 babies crying at once as they protested the touchdown. Janikowksi made the point after and the Chiefs led 23-17 with 2:01 to go in the game.
Janikowski tried an onside kick and it was recovered by the Chiefs at the Oakland 47-yard line. The Raiders had all three of their timeouts and after three plays, the Chiefs punted. With 1:34 to go and no timeouts, the Raiders had to go 89 yards. They didn’t make it. They didn’t even come close. Instead of stretching the field, Carr was dumping off short passes and they looked totally out of sync. The game came to an end as the Raiders were scrambling to get off one more play. Time ran out and that was it. The Chiefs won 23-17. That was their tenth win in a row and that improved their record to 11-5. The Raiders finished the year with a 7-9 record. That’s a hell of a lot better than 4-12 or 3-13. Still, there is a whole lot of work to do and they will be doing it without Charles Woodson. This was his last game and I thought he did pretty damn good. He was all over the field and finished the game with six solo tackles. You will be sorely missed, Charles! Maybe he can come back as a coach. I’d love for that to happen.
For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 21 of 33 for 194 yards, one touchdown and one interception. That’s not bad considering how much pressure he faced. Clive Walford led the team in receptions with four and receiving yards with 46. The running game performed horribly in this game. All totaled, the Raiders rushed for 48 yards on 16 carries. Latavius Murray was the leading rusher with 31 yards on 11 carries. Nine of those yards came on one carry. Defensively, Khalil Mack led the team in solo tackles with seven.
For the Chiefs, Alex Smith completed 14 of 24 for 156 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Jeremy Maclin and Albert Wilson tied for the lead in receptions with three apiece. Maclin had the most receiving yards with 54 and a touchdown. On the ground is where the Chiefs did the most damage. They rushed for 189 yards on 39 carries. Spencer Ware was the leading rusher with 76 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Defensively, linebacker Derrick Johnson led the team in solo tackles with eight. They terrorized Carr throughout the game and registered six sacks.
And that’s that. The 2015 season is over for the Raiders and it’s the best season they’ve had in quite a long time. With the exception of the opening game against the Bengals, they were in every game and lost some close ones. It’s also nice to go into the off season without having to worry about who will be the head coach next year. Jack Del Rio has done a fine job. There isn’t a tyrant looming over him watching his every move. Another good thing is there is no doubt as to who the starting quarterback is. Carr finished the year with 32 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and 3,987 yards. He had some mental lapses and made some bad decisions, but he’s only in his second year. He always wants to get better and I am confident that he will. What will really be different is when draft day comes around, the Raiders won’t be drafting in the top five. They will be drafting at the #14 spot. Lots of areas need improvement and GM Reggie McKenzie needs to nail the pick.
Until the start of the 2016 season, take it easy.
The Raider Guy