Raiders drop the ball in Kansas City in ugly end to a 2018 season to forget
In the final game of a forgettable season, the Oakland Raiders found another team they could beat ... the Oakland Raiders.
And they beat themselves right from the start.
The Raiders turned the ball over on each of their first possessions, dropped two potential interceptions early in the game and never recovered in a 35-3 debacle of a defeat against the arch-rival Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
"Obviously, it was a bittersweet ending to the season," said head coach Jon Gruden, whose team showed improvement late in the first year of his second stint with the Raiders. "We had done some great things lately, but it wasn't great today, and it had nothing to do with the effort.
"Obviously, the turnovers we're a big part of what happened today. We moved the ball and then turned it over three times near midfield. ... It's just tough to lose a game the way we did today."
The thing is, the Chiefs' offense doesn't need any help.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who could be the NFL's most valuable player in his first full season as a starter, passed for 281 yards and touchdowns of 67 yards to Tyreek Hill and 89 yards to Demarcus Robinson.
Mahomes finished the season with 5,097 passing yards and 50 touchdown passes, to join Peyton Manning, previously the only player in NFL history to reach both of those numbers in the same year.
Manning had 5,477 yards and 55 touchdown passes in 2013 with the Denver Broncos.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr completed 23 of 32 passes for 184 yards, but also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, while Doug Martin ran 21 times for 100 yards, reaching the century mark for the second straight game, but also lost a fumble.
On Carr's first interception, tight end Jared Cook never turned around to look for the ball after cutting off his pattern, but Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen was looking and he picked off the pass before running 54 yards for a touchdown.
"Obviously, that was just a miscommunication," Gruden explained. "With the crowd noise, Jared thought an audible was called. He thought we went to a running play."
That ended Carr's streak of 10 games without an interception and a string of passes that reached 332. Then he threw another pick nine passes later.
Carr also reached the number 50, being sacked three times for a season total of 51.
"Schematically, we're closer than people might think," claimed Carr, who finished the season with 4,049 yards passing, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. "We have some talent, but obviously we need some more pieces.
"We lost some people (Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper, Bruce Irvin), had some injuries and were playing with some guys who came in off the street. We accomplished some things despite all we went through, but we just haven't gotten in done yet.
"We'll just take some time off to relax, and then get back to work."
Gruden and the Raiders (4-12) will get ready for the 2019 NFL Draft, in which they will pick fourth in the first round behind the Arizona Cardinals (3-13), San Francisco 49Ers (4-12) and New York Jets (4-2). Thanks to the Mack and Cooper trades, Oakland has three No. 1 picks, the others at Nos. 25 and 27.
Kansas City swept the season series, also having won, 40-33, in at the Oakland Coliseum on Dec. 2 and has won eight of the last nine games against its long-time rival. The Raiders have not won in Kansas City since 2012.
The Chiefs (12-4) captured the AFC West for the third consecutive season and wrapped up the No. 1 seeding in the conference to earn a first-round bye, plus home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
"Congratulations to the Chiefs," Gruden said. "(Head coach) Andy Reid and his staff have done a great job. And Mahomes has my vote for whatever."
The Raiders, who had shown improvement by winning two of previous three games and three of the last six, head into an uncertain offseason. They are moving to Las Vegas in 2020, but don't know where they will play home games next year because the City of Oakland sued the Raiders and the NFL over the move.
That caused owner Mark Davis to pull off the table a prospective one-year deal to play one more season at the Oakland Coliseum.
There has been speculation that the Raiders could play in San Francisco, Santa Clara, London, San Antonio, San Diego and other cities near and far from Oakland.