Final Score: Kansas City Chiefs 40, Oakland Raiders 9
Whether it was Andy Reid out of the bye week, Derek Carr in the weather, Carr at Arrowhead — or something else — the Chiefs dominated the game from start to finish. From an execution standpoint, it was an up-and-down performance Chiefs offense. But the defense held strong by not surrendering a touchdown until garbage time. Even then, the Chiefs special teams made a play, getting a two-point score on a blocked extra point attempt.
It was a sloppy start for the offense. Travis Kelce dropped a wide-open pass on an RPO in the flat that might have resulted in a first down. Early in the game, he and Patrick Mahomes struggled to connect, with two drops from Kelce and a miscommunication in the red zone. The Chiefs were also intent on getting Mecole Hardman involved, giving him a jet sweep for a nice 9-yard run early in the game.
Mahomes looked sharp in the first drive of the game — despite completing only three of eight passes. Kelce’s two drops, a defensive pass interference no-call and that miscommunication made the line look worse.
The Chiefs wasted a special teams turnover with two awful running plays on third and fourth-and-1. They were bad play-calls — and had bad execution up front, too.
Mahomes had possibly the worst pass of his young career trying to throw back into the middle of the field against the wind. It was nearly intercepted by Lamarcus Joyner, who had room to run. On this play — and several more throughout the game — Mahomes was put in compromising positions; he was bailing and escaping from bad play-calls, not just bad protection up front — although there were plenty of mistakes there as well.
The wind appeared to be a factor on several passes — including a deep shot early in the third quarter. That drive stalled after a holding penalty from Darwin Thompson negated a touchdown for Demarcus Robinson on third-and-short. Thompson redeemed himself in the fourth quarter with some productive runs as the Chiefs tried to drain the clock. He showed improved vision, good burst and the same contact balance that intrigued us during draft season.
Mahomes and Kelce were able to connect on a few big throws in the second half. Despite his up-and-down day, Kelce ended with five catches for 90 yards.
Overall, execution and play-calling were inconsistent. No Chiefs wide receiver (not named Tyreek Hill) registered a catch. The offense will need a better performance to win on the road against the New England Patriots.
Tackling and run fits weren’t great for most of the game; the Raiders’ Josh Jacobs had success on the ground. Chiefs linebackers played a significant role in that; the position group could be exploited — against both the run and the pass — down the stretch. They lack athleticism — and the better athletes in the room aren’t trusted. Whether they’re working to sideline-to-sideline in the run game or defending in space in the passing game, they’re struggling.
Tyrann Mathieu fell off in coverage to make an interception — the first impact play of the game. His ability to see (and drive) on the ball made it a great play. Daniel Sorensen blew coverage on the Raiders’ first explosive play in the first half — a pass to DeAndre Washington that went for 28 yards on a first-and-20. The next explosive play came in the second quarter on a fade to Tyrell Williams with Charvarius Ward in coverage; the second-year corner failed to turn and locate the ball.
Juan Thornhill came up with a huge play on a fourth-and-1, closing on a jet sweep before the line of gain and completing the tackle to give the offense the ball back. It was definitely Thornhill’s breakout game, as it also included an interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter — his first of his career.
The Raiders didn’t reach the red zone until just two minutes were left in the first half. The biggest play of the half came on a 35-yard run from Jacobs.
Frank Clark was quiet until a big tackle-for-loss late in the second half on another Jacobs run. Clark’s play pushed the Raiders out of an easier field goal — which the Raiders then proceeded to miss, preserving the first-half shutout. But Clark left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury, which we’ll need to monitor.
Chris Jones got the Chiefs’ first sack of the game in the third quarter. He then chased Carr out of bounds on third-and-14 after good coverage. For the majority of the game, the secondary did a very good job.
With this defense, there are reasons for optimism. If Clark comes out of this healthy enough to play against the Patriots, the unit is good enough to win on the road.