The Kansas City Chiefs have taken control of the AFC West once more after a slow start to the season and could be headed for bigger and better things, while the Las Vegas Raiders again appear to be going nowhere after a fast start.
Cornerback Mike Hughes returned a fumble 22 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in the game, and the Chiefs routed the Raiders for the second time this season, 48-9, on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
“I don’t have a lot of words for it,” said Raiders interim coach Rich Bissacia, who is 3-5 since replacing Jon Gruden, who resigned in the wake of his email scandal. “It started with a fumble the first play of the game.
“As it went on, we missed more and more tackles. We had more dropped passes. Penalties on defense, gave up explosive plays. Struggled to protect the quarterback. Struggled to run the football. And on top of that, missed a PAT.”
The Chiefs (9-4), who seem to be headed for their sixth straight division title, have won six consecutive games after beating the Raiders for the 14th time in the last 16 games to take a 70-54-2 lead in the once-competitive series, in which the 39-point margin is the largest since it began in 1960.
The Raiders (6-7), who started the season 3-0 and later were 5-2, lost for the seventh time in nine games to remain in the AFC West cellar and seem destined to miss the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.
The Chiefs, who routed the Raiders, 41-14 earlier this season at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, scored the first 35 points in this one and were in total control all the way. Las Vegas didn't score until Daniel Carlson kicked a 26-yard field goal on the last play of the first half to cut the margin to 35-3, but it only got worse.
Kansas City forced five turnovers by the Raiders and turned four of them into touchdowns.
“Any time you can put together four or five turnovers in a game, you’re probably going to come out on the right end of the stick,” said Chiefs Coach Andy Reid, who joined Hank Stram (124) and Marty Schottenheimer (101) as the only Kansas City coaches with 100 regular season victories and is 15-3 against the Raiders.
“I thought the offense did a nice job of moving the ball, taking time off that second half, which was important being able to run the ball and be able to still throw efficiently. … The defensive line, I thought the pressure that they applied up front was just top notch.”
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes riddled the Raiders defense, completing 20-of-24 passes for 258 yards and touchdowns of 23 yards to running back Darrel Williams and one yard to wide receiver Josh Gordon, and didn't throw an interception.
“I think it’s just you understand that it’s going to be a battle,” said Mahomes, who remembers the Raiders upsetting the Chiefs in Kansas City last season. “You understand that there’s a rivalry for a reason. You can feel that just being around people in Kansas City. Even though you didn’t grow up here, you feel like you’ve played this team for years.”
Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for only 37 yards on ten carries but scored on runs of five and six yards to break the game open in the second quarter.
Running back Derrick Gore capped the scoring for Kansas City on a 51-yard run with 7:19 left in the game one play after defensive end Alex Okafor sacked quarterback Derek Carr and forced a recovered fumble by safety Armani Watts.
Carr completed 33-of-45 passes for 263 yards and a four-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow in the third quarter and threw an interception that tight end Foster Moreau bobbled into the hands of safety Tyrann Mathieu.
“Definitely disappointed,” said Carr, who passed for three touchdowns in the upset of the Chiefs last year. “Most of our guys work really hard and try our very best to put good stuff on tape and go win football games. When you come in here, I didn’t expect that outcome… We would execute to a certain level, but execution is all the way to the whistle, and we didn’t do that.”
Renfrow was Carr's only reliable offensive weapon, making a career-high 13 receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown, but he also had a fumble that Mathieu recovered. Running back, Josh Jacobs caught five passes for 46 yards but managed only 24 yards rushing on nine carries, and fumbled the ball away to Hughes for the opening touchdown.
As a final insult, the Raiders were driving toward a meaningless touchdown when Carr hit wide receiver Zay Jones for eight yards, but Hughes forced him to fumble, and safety Juan Thornhill recovered on the Kansas City 11-yard line with 1:52 left in the game.
That was the only turnover the Chiefs did not turn into a touchdown, as they simply ran out the clock on the game and possibly the Raiders' playoff hopes.
The Raiders were without possibly their best players on both sides of the ball. Tight end Darren Waller missed his second straight game because of knee and back injuries sustained in a victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving and linebacker Denzel Perryman, the Silver and Black's leading tackler. Perryman was out due to an ankle injury suffered in a loss to the Washington Football team last Sunday.
Without Perryman, safety Johnathan Abram led the Raiders with ten tackles, linebacker Divine Deablo had nine, and defensive end Maxx Crosby made five, including one for a loss.
Next up for the Raiders are the Cleveland Browns on Saturday at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, where Las Vegas will try to climb back to .500 and keep their fading postseason hopes alive.
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