Up next for the Raiders was a Thursday night home game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs were coming off a big 24-20 win over the Seattle Seahawks and the Raiders were coming off a tough 13-6 loss to the San Diego Chargers. As the rain poured down, kicker Sebastian Janikowksi sent the opening kickoff into the end zone and the Chiefs started at their 20-yard line.
Aside from a five-yard carry by running back Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs went nowhere and punted the ball away. Punter Dustin Colquitt hit a huge 69-yard punt that was downed at the Oakland 15-yard line. The Raiders managed to get one first down before punting the ball right back to the Chiefs. The Raider defense played well on this possession and forced another three and out. This time, Colquitt didn’t get all of it and the ball was downed at the Oakland 40-yard line. This drive got off to a nice start as quarterback Derek Carr connected with wide receiver Vincent Brown for a gain of 19 and a first down at the Kansas City 41. That was followed by a short carry by running back Darren McFadden and an 11-yard completion to wide receiver James Jones. From the 27, running back Latavius Murray got in on the action and took it up the middle for a gain of six. Two plays later, Carr found wide receiver Brice Butler and that play was good for a first down at the 11-yard line. Murray finished the drive as he ran untouched up the left side for a touchdown. It was the first rushing touchdown the Chiefs have allowed all year. Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-0.
As the rain continued, both offenses had trouble moving the ball. With 12:40 to go in the second quarter, the Raiders took over at their ten-yard line. This “drive” would last only about 12 seconds. That’s because Murray ran up the middle, cut to his left and saw nothing but green grass in front of him. He took it to the end zone for a 90-yard touchdown. Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 14-0 with 12:28 to go in the first half.
The Chiefs took over at their 20 and got off to a good start with nine-yard carries by running back De’Anthony Thomas and Charles. On second and ten from the 37, quarterback Alex Smith connected with tight end Anthony Fasano for a gain of 11 and a first down at the 48. They would get as far as the Oakland 44 and they were forced to punt from there. Back to receive the punt was wide receiver Denarius Moore. All of a sudden, I got a bad feeling. Something was about to happen that Raider fans wouldn’t like. The punt was high and Moore got under it, but the ball went right through his arms and was pounced on by linebacker Frank Zombo. That gave the Chiefs excellent field position at the Oakland 11-yard line. I can’t repeat all the obscenities I screamed at the television after that play. That was the last we would be seeing of Mr. Moore. The good news is the Raider defense was up to the task of stopping the Chiefs. Charles ran up the middle for a gain of six on first down. Smith looked for Charles on second down, but the pass was incomplete. That set up a very big third and four from the five-yard line. Smith had plenty of time to find a receiver and fired a pass to Thomas. He was hit hard at the two-yard line by safety Brandian Ross and the pass fell incomplete. Kicker Cairo Santos came on and his 24-yard field goal attempt was good. The Raiders led 14-3 with 7:19 to go in the first half.
Murray returned the kickoff to the 25, but a holding call moved the Raiders back to the 15. On third and three from the 22, Murray got another carry and it was good for a first down. However, he was a victim of a helmet to helmet hit by safety Kurt Coleman. The ball came loose and was recovered by the Raiders. Murray would leave the game with a possible concussion and would not return. That was bad news for the Raiders and the drive was halted at the 39 as McFadden came up just short of the first down marker on third and three. King punted and the Chiefs still couldn’t get their offense going. The first half ended with the Raiders leading 14-3.
Both teams punted on their first possessions of the second half. At the 9:44 mark, the Raiders got the ball back at the Kansas City 49-yard line. A short completion to McFadden and a six-yard carry by McFadden set up a third and one at the 40. I was expecting to see a running play, but the Raiders came out with an empty backfield and Carr completed a two-yard pass to Jones for a first down at the 38. On third and seven from the 22, Carr went deep up the right sideline for wide receiver Andre Holmes. It was incomplete, but there was a flag on the play and early indications were it was defensive pass interference. No such luck. It was ruled that Holmes “voluntarily” ran out of bounds and therefore there was no penalty. That meant it was time for Janikowski to try a 40-yard field goal. It wasn’t the best kick I’ve ever seen him make, but he snuck it inside the left upright and it was good. With 5:05 to go in the third quarter, the Raiders led 17-3.
Return man Knile Davis returned the kickoff to the 40 and the Chiefs had good field position to start their next drive. Passes to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, tight end Travis Kelce and Thomas quickly moved the Chiefs to the Oakland 28-yard line. On second and six from the 24, Charles ran for ten yards, but the ball was knocked loose. Linebacker Khalil Mack was in prime position to recover the ball, but he couldn’t corral it and Thomas recovered it at the 14. While all this was going on, a flag was thrown and the Chiefs were penalized for an illegal block above the waist. That moved them back to the 30 and Smith found Kelce for a gain of 11. That made third and one from the 19. The Raiders were expecting Charles to get another carry and brought some heavy pressure up the middle. The only problem with that is that Charles didn’t have the ball. Standing all by himself with no one around him was Fasano. Smith saw him and he completed a very easy 19-yard touchdown pass. Santos made the point after and the Chiefs trailed 17-10 with 1:52 to go in the third quarter.
Aside from a nice 37-yard pass to Holmes, the Raiders didn’t have much success on their next drive and were forced to punt again. The Chiefs took over at their 35 and marched right down the field. What the hell happened to the Raider defense? There was no pressure on Smith, receivers were wide open and there were missed tackles all over the field. Unfortunately, that’s something that’s been happening to the Raiders for a long time. A 27-yard pass to Kelce moved the Chiefs to the Oakland 38. Despite being flagged for two holding penalties, the Chiefs were able to find the end zone. On second and 16 from the 30, Smith found Charles open in the middle of the field and Charles did the rest as he avoided several defenders on his way to the end zone. Santos made the point after and just like that, the score was knotted at 17 with 12:20 to go in the game.
The Raiders gained three yards on their next possession and punted. Return man Frankie Hammond fielded the punt at the Kansas City 35 and returned it to the Oakland 37. That gave the Chiefs excellent field position. On first down, Smith found wide receiver Albert Wilson wide open for a gain of 23 yards and a first down at the 14. A short scramble by Smith and a five yard pass set up a crucial third and three. The Raiders brought the pressure and the pass fell incomplete. Still, the Chiefs could take the lead if Santos made the 25-yard field goal attempt. The kick was good and the Chiefs led 20-17 with nine minutes to go in the game.
When the Raiders took over at their 20, there was no sign of McFadden or Jones-Drew. Fullback Marcel Reece was the one who would be doing the dirty work. Reece carried the ball three times and caught an eight-yard pass to quickly move the ball to the 48. After that, Carr was sacked for a loss of two by defensive end Justin Houston. On second and 12, Carr completed an 11-yard pass to Butler to move the Raiders into Kansas City territory. Once again, the Raiders were in another third and one situation. I thought Reece would be the man to go to again. Wrong. It was a pass intended for tight end Mychal Rivera that was almost intercepted. So, it was now fourth and one. Who will it be this time? Reece? McFadden? Marcus Allen? Bo Jackson? None of the above. Carr took it himself and got just enough for a first down at the 42. Reece got another carry and grinded out four tough yards. Carr went deep for Holmes on the next play. He was open, but the ball was poorly thrown and again, it was almost intercepted. That made it third and six. Carr stood tall in the pocket and connected with Rivera across the middle for a gain of eight and a first down at the 30.
From the 30, Carr went deep for Jones and the pass was incomplete. Like always, offensive coordinator Greg Olson called for a running play on second down after an incompletion on first down. The Chiefs were well aware of this and Reece was stuffed for a short gain. From the 29, Carr threw to Holmes on the right sideline. There was lots of contact while the ball was in the air and safety Ron Parker was flagged for defensive pass interference. That gave the Raiders new life and a first down at the 20. Two carries by Reece netted nine yards and Carr ran up the middle for two yards and a first down at the nine. From the nine, Carr had all the time he needed to find a receiver and he found Jones in the end zone for a Raider touchdown. Janikowksi made the point after and the Raiders led 24-20 with 1:42 to go in the game.
Janikowski sent the kickoff nine yards deep into the end zone, but Thomas ran it out and I sincerely believe if safety Larry Asante hadn’t been in perfect position, Thomas would have had himself a 109-yard kick return. Thomas was pushed out of bounds at the Kansas City 39-yard line. The Chiefs had no timeouts and 61 yards to go to get themselves a win. From the 39, Smith was pressured by Mack. Despite having a firm grasp on Smith’s jersey, Mack was unable to bring him down and Smith got off a pass down the middle to Bowe. It bounced before it got there and was ruled incomplete. That was followed by a seven-yard pass to Wilson. An illegal formation penalty was called on the Chiefs and Raider head coach Tony Sparano declined it. That made it fourth and three from the 46.
One more stop and the game would be won by the Raiders. It would be their first win of the year. Surely they could get a stop here, right? Wrong. Smith looked for Bowe and the pass was incomplete. But, there were several flags on the play. Safety Charles Woodson and cornerback DJ Hayden were flagged for defensive holding. Not only that, defensive end Benson Mayowa was flagged for hands to the face. The penalty on Mayowa was enforced and the Chiefs had a first down at the Oakland 49. From the 49, Charles ran for a gain of four yards. That was followed by an incomplete pass intended for Kelce. Now, it was third and six from the 45. The Raiders brought the pressure and Smith was sacked by linebacker Sio Moore. I guess they thought that was fourth down, because several Raiders were way behind the line of scrimmage celebrating. That caused me to go off. I screamed “THAT WAS ONLY THIRD DOWN! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU GUYS DOING? GET BACK TO THE LINE!!!!” See, this is why you have to have veteran leadership on your team. Defensive end Justin Tuck alertly called timeout and the Raiders were spared an offside penalty. So, it was now fourth and 13 from the Kansas City 48-yard line. Smith took the snap, felt little pressure and threw a pass to the left side intended for Hammond. It was incomplete and that sealed the deal. The Raiders finally got a win! Dating back to last year, they had lost 16 consecutive games. That’s the equivalent of an entire season. It wasn’t pretty. As a matter of fact, it was downright ugly at times. But that doesn’t matter. All that matters is the final score. Raiders 24 Chiefs 20.
For the Chiefs, Alex Smith completed 20 of 36 for 234 yards and two touchdown passes. Travis Kelce and Jamaal Charles tied for the lead in receptions with four and Kelce had the most receiving yards with 67. The last time Charles visited Oakland, he decimated the Raiders with five touchdowns. In this game, he was the leading rusher with 80 yards on 19 carries and only one touchdown. As a team, the Chiefs rushed for 96 yards on 24 carries. Defensively, linebacker Josh Mauga and safety Ron Parker tied for the lead in solo tackles with six apiece. The Chiefs had their opportunities in this game as there were several dropped passes by their defensive backs.
For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 18 of 35 for 174 yards and one touchdown pass. Andre Holmes and James Jones tied for the lead in receptions with five and Holmes had the most receiving yards with 55. The ground game got a huge boost from Latavius Murray. Despite having only four carries and leaving the game early, he had 112 yards rushing and two touchdowns. My question is why did the coaching staff wait until week 11 to give him some carries? Marcel Reece also did an admirable job running the ball with 37 yards on eight carries. As a team, the Raiders rushed for 179 yards on 30 carries. Defensively, linebacker Miles Burris and safety Larry Asante tied for the lead in solo tackles with eight apiece. Charles Woodson had himself a solid game with seven solo tackles and a sack. He became the first player in NFL history to record 50 interceptions and 20 sacks.
This was a very special night in Oakland and even the torrential rain couldn’t screw it up. Hall of Fame punter Ray Guy received his ring and there were several Hall of Famers at the game. Maybe having so many great players back in Oakland got the Raiders fired up. Like I said, it wasn’t pretty, but they got the win. I can’t count how many times the great Raider teams of the past had wins in this exact same fashion. I know it’s only one win, but the last thing I wanted to see was an 0-16 season. Up next is a trip to St. Louis to take on the Rams. Until then, take it easy.
The Raider Guy