The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Oakland Raiders, 26-15, and the Chiefs improved to 7-6 on Sunday.
This is the good, the bad and the ugly:
GOOD: The initial defensive sequence
After a terrible week against the New York Jets, the Chiefs defense opened up with a strong start against the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders’ initial offensive drive included a Steve Nelson pass breakup, a Jarvis Jenkins tackle for a loss and a sack by Chris Jones.
It had felt like forever since the Chiefs were getting any consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback, so the start out of the gate was promising.
BAD: Alex Smith refuses to pull trigger with WR Albert Wilson wide open deep
Alex Smith had wide receiver Albert Wilson wide open deep down the field on the Chiefs’ first offensive drive but he refused to take the shot and was instead tackled near the line of scrimmage.
Rich Gannon even noted that this was a throw he felt Smith should have made on the CBS broadcast.
GOOD: Harrison Butker hits a 53-yarder
The Chiefs have one of the better kickers in the league. In a stretch of despair, the fact that they stole Butker from the Carolina Panthers when any other general manager in the league could have done the same probably is not talked about enough.
The Chiefs’ first drive stalled Sunday and Butker boomed a kick through the uprights.
Would’ve been good from 83.— Sam Mellinger (@mellinger) December 10, 2017
K Harrison Butker ties a career-long with a 53-yard field goal. He now has three 50+ field goals this season, tied for second-most by a kicker in franchise history.— ChiefsCommunications (@ChiefsPR) December 10, 2017
Great work by Brett Veach and Uncle Dave.
GOOD/BAD: Demetrius Harris
We saw the good and the bad of Demetrius Harris Sunday afternoon.
Harris was nearly impossible to bring down on a first-half 25-yard reception, reminding me of Travis Kelce for a second.
Demetrius Harris with the Marshawn-like stiff arm. "He can be very disruptive in the open field," Gannon said— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) December 10, 2017
Then, of course, in the second half, Harris dropped a ball that hit him in the hands. To Harris’ defense, the ball was a bit high, but any pass that hits you in the hands, you’re probably expected to catch.
It would have went for a touchdown.
GOOD: The misdirection fake screen screen
Andy Reid and Matt Nagy dialed it back to the early weeks of the season with a crafty play call at the end of the first quarter.
There was misdirection. There was a pump fake. And then there was an eventual screen to Travis Kelce, who took the ball all the way to the end zone for (at the time) a touchdown. The replay showed Kelce’s knee was down at the 1-yard line, and the Chiefs ran it in on the next play with Kareem Hunt.
BAD: Did you know?
A couple people tweeted that the touchdown was Hunt’s first since Week 3 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
GOOD: Albert Wilson’s unbelievable catch
Alex Smith took a 36-yard shot down the left sideline to Albert Wilson at the beginning of the second quarter, and Wilson was one on one with TJ Carrie.
The 5-foot-9 Wilson jumped up, made the amazing catch and got two feet in bounds.
UGLY: Travis Kelce loses cool, drops would-be touchdown pass
Travis Kelce had a bad two minutes at the beginning of the second quarter.
On a second-and-5 play, Alex Smith threw to Kelce in the end zone, and Kelce thought that there should have been a pass interference penalty. No call and incomplete.
Kelce could be seen yelling at the officials.
Andy Reid dialed up Kelce again on the next play and Kelce dropped what would have been a touchdown. He was visibly frustrated after the sequence.
A good point by Nick Jacobs of 41 Action News here:
Kelce also seems to forget that he threw a towel at a ref last year and made a reference to the white cap today about Foot Locker in January. The league of extraordinary officials probably doesn’t forget that stuff.— Nick Jacobs (@Jacobs71) December 10, 2017
It is sometimes easy to forget this, but referees are real people and Kelce does have a history of disrespect.
GOOD: Reggie Ragland is a guy
Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star knows his Chiefs, and his words during Sunday’s game about the 24-year-old Reggie Ragland caught my eye.
I can't remember a Chiefs ILB who consistently wins in the phone booth as much as Reggie Ragland. Even prime DJ did it more stealthy— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) December 10, 2017
As Derrick Johnson continues to get less work each week at the age of 35, it is great news that Ragland is drawing comparisons to him in his prime. Johnson has played with a lot of linebackers in Kansas City and none have seem to stick.
It appears Ragland has a real shot of doing just that.
GOOD: Chris Jones deflection, Terrance Mitchell with the outfield catch
Chris Jones made his presence known for the first time in a long time Sunday afternoon, recording a sack and coming away with a key pass deflection in the game’s second quarter.
Derek Carr’s ball popped into the air like a rainbow and Terrance Mitchell, filling in at the left cornerback position for Marcus Peters, made the diving catch for the interception.
The Chiefs scored three points off of the pick.
GOOD: Alex Smith throwing deep to Tyreek Hill works, guys
We talked about Alex Smith throwing the ball deep to Tyreek Hill after Hill exploded for 185 yards last week against the New York Jets.
The Chiefs went back to the well in the second quarter with a 44-yard pass to Hill down the right sideline.
Hill is a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver and finally the Chiefs seem to be using him as such.
BAD: Mitch Schwartz penalty nullifies a touchdown
Mitch Schwartz is one of the Chiefs’ best offensive linemen, so it’s rare he finds himself in the bad column. But Schwartz took an ineligible downfield penalty on a 10-yard touchdown to Travis Kelce, nullifying the score.
The Chiefs would have went up 20-0, but instead could only make it 16-0 with a field goal.
GOOD: Tyreek Hill out here just breaking ankles
OmG! Ty just destroyed some ankles!!! #chiefs @ArrowheadPride pic.twitter.com/D2ymgfJQmn— Ben Baker (@benbake23) December 10, 2017
GOOD: Steve Nelson forces the fumble
Cornerback Steve Nelson did his finest Marcus Peters impression in the third quarter Sunday, forcing Raiders wide receiver Johnny Holton to fumble the football by ripping it out of his hands after the catch.
Linebacker Frank Zombo came away with the recovery and the Chiefs took over at the Raiders 28-yard line.
UGLY: Alex Smith had an awful interception
You may have gripes that Alex Smith doesn’t throw the football down the field, and sometimes that’s valid, but what he doesn’t often do is make bad decisions and ugly throws.
But on the very next play after the fumble recovery, Smith badly overthrew Travis Kelce and Karl Joseph picked the ball off.
UGLY: The Raiders, all day
And coming off the interception, a moment that could have changed the entire game for the Raiders, the offense fell right on its face again.
Derek Carr missed a wide open Michael Crabtree short on second down, then opted for a bizarre-looking shovel pass on third down.
The Raiders went three and out.
GOOD: Quarterback pressure
Chris Jones, Jarvis Jenkins and Justin Houston all recorded a sack on Sunday, and even when he wasn’t brought down, Derek Carr was never comfortable.
It feels like it had been weeks since we were able to say that. Houston’s sack brought his total to 9.5 on the season.
BAD: Ron Parker’s bad stretch
Ron Parker had a stretch in the fourth quarter where he missed a tackle to allow a 22-yard touchdown by Marshawn Lynch and then took a defensive pass interference penalty on the Raiders’ next drive.
BAD: The fourth-and-7 touchdown
It’s fourth-and-7 in a 19-point game and the Raiders opt to go for it. I thought this was a bad decision at the time because you could still make it a two-score game with a field goal.
Tight end Jared Cook cut between Derrick Johnson and Dan Sorensen and found his way behind the defense. Derek Carr turned it loose and the Raiders scored a touchdown over the top.
The two-point conversion made the game 26-15.
GOOD: Good God almighty! I think he killed him!
BOOM pic.twitter.com/OE46ZfV1PV— Clay Wendler (@ClayWendler) December 10, 2017
UGLY: Uh, what were the Raiders doing?
The Raiders had two timeouts with about five or six minutes left in the game trailing by 11, and they just straight up chose not to use them.
Then, when they finally get the ball back, the offense was unhurried and lethargic.
It reminded me a lot of the Chiefs in the playoffs in New England— no urgency, no drive to win. The Raiders’ hopes ended when Steven Terrell picked off Derek Carr.
I have been very down on the Chiefs lately, and I said this week that the playoffs were starting early. The AFC West will more than likely have just one team make the postseason, meaning this win and next week’s Chargers game become pivotal.
Something obvious stood out Sunday: with the playoffs on the line, the Chiefs showed up. The Raiders did not.
I’m not sure all of the Chiefs’ problems are fixed because the Raiders are a very bad football team. With that said, this is a step in the right direction, and if you can just find a way into the tournament, the records reset and you never know.
The postseason ramps up next week.