The Las Vegas Raiders faced a tall task in Week 5, having to go into Arrowhead Stadium and face the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs. They not only beat them, but they may have finally gelled as a team.
The Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs both put on offensive clinics during the first half of Sunday’s game, making it look like defense was optional. The Raiders and Chiefs’ offenses combined for 645 yards — the most yards throughout the first half of any game this season.
It was the much-maligned and underperforming Raiders’ defense — coupled with a sparkling day by the offense and Derek Carr — that was the difference in the second half as Las Vegas wins for the first time at Arrowhead since 2012 in a 40-32 statement win over the 4-1 Chiefs.
After a steady-flowing offensive showcase and a 24-24 score at halftime, both defenses began showing their worth, providing four consecutive stops to kick off the third quarter.
Heading into the game, it appeared the Chiefs would be most vulnerable against the run as their defense ranks 28th in stopping the ground game.
Not so fast.
Quarterback Derek Carr put together his best showing of any game he’s played in at Arrowhead Stadium, finishing the day 22-of-31 for 347 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 126.7. Carr is the first Raiders’ quarterback with 300 passing yards against the Chiefs since Rich Gannon in 2002. It fully unhooked the monkey on his back that had been road games in Kansas City.
Carr, who said this week the Raiders and Chiefs rivalry wasn’t really a rivalry due to the Silver and Black’s inability to beat their foes. He added the rivalry might be back on after his team’s performance today.
“I think we’re back a little bit,” Carr said after the game. “It’s the world champs, man. What we were able to do today — lose two in a row, go to play the World Champs and be able to score some points and our defense getting the stops. I hope they give (Defensive Coordinator Paul) Guenther credit for it. He had a tough week. I’ve had tough weeks around here too. It’s a part of the business. But yeah, I think again, we have to be able to win football games against these guys to make it a rivalry. We hadn’t done that in a long time.”
The Raiders’ deep ball transpired quite frequently and they connected more often than not. Carr found Nelson Agholor for a 59-yard touchdown and subsequently followed it up by delivering a 72-yard strike to Henry Ruggs III on the following drive. Gruden had mentioned he wanted his own version of Tyreek Hill and Ruggs showed glimpses of exactly that.
Despite the Chiefs getting burned defensively, that didn’t stop the mindset of their high-flying offense to answer right back. Patrick Mahomes extended time in the pocket with his legs and found tight end Travis Kelce and receiver Tyreek Hill for a combined 186 yards. Mahomes finished the contest with 333 yards, two touchdowns and one interception by Raiders’ safety Jeff Heath, who picked off the former MVP with 5:26 left in the game. Heath’s takeaway late in the fourth quarter led to a goal-line touchdown by Josh Jacobs that put the Raiders ahead 40-24.
Mahomes responded with a touchdown in his own right, while also picking up the two-point conversion to put the Chiefs within one score with 3:57 left. With the final minutes expiring, the Raiders put the ball in the hands of Jacobs to let time expire and pick up their first win in Kansas City since 2012.
Kicker Daniel Carlson punched through a field goal from 38-yards in the first half, followed by a fourth-quarter 44-yard attempt.
The Raiders added three sacks to their season total after entering the Week 5 contest with four on the year. The Raiders’ inability to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks has received tough scrutiny in recent weeks, but after causing disruption against Kansas City by delivering five quarterback hits to go along with their sack total, they did show a bit of life. Whether it continues will be the bigger question looming ahead.
“I think if you look at the number of scrambles that (Patrick) Mahomes had today — the effort that we had to have to try and get him,” Gruden said after the game. “I know we didn’t do a great job of getting him on the ground, but this is as hard as it gets. All we had was five or six guys left and Mahomes is a great scrambler. He made us pay several times today, but it was enough in the end. I am really proud of our guys for finishing the game. Chris Smith, Datone Jones came up off the practice squad. It was their debut today and thank God we had them.”
After a demoralizing schedule over the first five weeks, the Raiders sit with a 3-2 record as they enter their bye week. Following their bye, Las Vegas will play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7 on Sunday Night football inside Allegiant Stadium.