For many longtime Kansas City Chiefs fans, nothing gets them more excited than a game against the Oakland Raiders — a team that has been a division rival since the two teams were established with the formation of the American Football League in 1960.
Some classic moments have emerged from this rivalry. Any of these ring a bell?
- In 1969, the 10-6 loss that gave the AFC West to the Raiders. Three weeks later, a 17-7 playoff victory over the Raiders sent the Chiefs to New Orleans to win Super Bowl IV.
- A James Hasty interception return that gave the Chiefs a 23-17 overtime victory in 1995.
- In 2003 — with the game tied at 24 — a fourth-and-14 pass from Trent Green to Marc Boerigter set up the winning field goal with just nine seconds remaining.
- Terrelle Pryor lining up under center for a third-and-48 in 2013 — and later in the same game, a Hussain Abdullah interception return for a touchdown that sealed a 24-7 Chiefs win and moved the Chiefs to 6-0 for the season. The play is believed to be the moment where Arrowhead Stadium’s initial world record for crowd noise was established.
- In 2017, when the Raiders (somehow) ran seven plays in the last seven seconds of the game to win 31-30.
For the team, the intensity of the rivalry has cooled a bit since the days when former head coach Marty Schottenheimer prowled the practice field shouting, “It’s Raider Week, men!” Current head coach Andy Reid’s style could hardly be more dissimilar to Schottenheimer’s — yet the two coaches have posted quite similar records against the Raiders. In Kansas City, Shottenheimer was 17-3 against Oakland; since his arrival, Reid’s record is 10-2.
In recent years, Chiefs players have essentially paid lip service to the rivalry. But in 2018, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden — who coached the Raiders during Schottenheimer’s last season with the Chiefs — appeared to be doing his best to rekindle the animus between the teams.
In 2019, the Chiefs are responding in kind. To get the team fired up this week, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo showed the team a video about the rivalry — as linebacker Anthony Hitchens related on Wednesday.
“We actually watched an old video today that coach Spags showed,” he said. “It’s a great rivalry. They don’t like us and we don’t like them. At the end of the day, we’re out here trying to win a football game — by any means — we’re trying to win a football game.”
“It was kind of a YouTube video and Len Dawson was on it,” said Spagnuolo on Thursday. “You’ve probably all seen it. It depicted what the rivalry’s all about. I can’t do justice verbalizing it. So you put the video on and I think the guys get a little better feel for it.”
Spagnuolo didn;t say precisely which video he showed the team — but he could easily have meant this one:
Defensive tackle Chris Jones got the message.
”Len Dawson was talking about how big of a rivalry this is,” defensive tackle Chris Jones said of the video. “It’s not only been going on since coach Reid [has] been here, but way before coach Reid. It was back during the Len Dawson era — you know, when football was on black-and-white [TV]. It’s a long history of the rivalry. It used to be called ‘Hate Week’ — I don’t think we should push it that far — but we know who we’ve got coming.”
Jones said that because this will almost certainly be the last Chiefs-Raiders game played in the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the Chiefs — currently favored by seven points — still feel like underdogs. And that’s OK with him.
“I like feeling like the underdog,” he explained. “Going in this week, we’re definitely feeling like the underdog. We’re at their home in The Black Hole — where it’s hard to play, where their fans are going to come out. It’s a lot of emotion — especially during games like that. And [an] AFC West game. So that’s huge. That’s a big game to make a statement in.”
“You definitely know the history of the Raider rivalry,” said quarterback Patrick Mahomes, “and you know they’re going to give their best effort — and we’re going to give our best effort — to win that game. It kind of just means more. You can feel it around the community and the facility.”
“I think when you step into that stadium — when you’re out there — you understand the rivalry,” said Reid. “The guys that have been here, they get it. It has been a long-standing rivalry — probably as close are you’re going to have to a college atmosphere that way, as far as rivalries go.”
Mahomes said that his initial scouting of the the Raiders was unexpectedly interrupted.
“I got through the first half on Monday night, but I fell asleep at halftime,” he said. “I did watch the film — and I mean those guys are playing with a ton of energy. Those young guys they had last year have elevated their game — and the guys they brought in are playing with a ton of confidence. It’ll be a great test for us. They have a lot of different coverages and different blitzes, so for us, it’s going to be an early test.”
“It’s about being physical,” said Hitchens. “The most physical team wins. And you can see guys talking smack on the field and off the field. Just being ready, keep your head on and just play ball. It’s going to be a physical match, going to be some bumps and bruises. I’m looking forward to it.”