The Kansas City Chiefs needed a win over the Las Vegas Raiders to take first place in the AFC West. They needed to stay above .500 and build some momentum. They needed their quarterback to get back to himself. They needed the offense to execute. And they needed for the game to be easier this time.
Sunday night’s 41-14 victory — and the fun that these guys had on the field in Las Vegas — were a welcome sight for Chiefs fans. It’s just the type of primetime night that gives us some hope that the team is who we hoped they would be.
Here are a few that stood out on a very good night for the Chiefs.
The Chiefs offensive line: Against a good Raiders pass rush — and with a third-string right tackle — the Chiefs line led the way to a dominant offensive performance. They didn’t allow a sack, ran the ball when they needed to and put some highlight-reel pancakes on film... like they do every week. We can’t single just one of these guys out, because they are starting to function like a top unit.
Darrel Williams: The team’s backup running back turned in his longest run of the season — but the story will be about his breakout game as a receiver: nine catches for 101 yards and a spectacular 38-yard touchdown on a jump ball from Mahomes. Williams struggled when he was asked to run outside — but everywhere else, he was fantastic.
Patrick Mahomes: Whatever you wanted to see from Mahomes against the Raiders, it’s safe to say you should be satisfied. Mahomes put on a show with over 400 yards and FIVE touchdown passes. But perhaps more importantly, it looked effortless. He was comfortable in the pocket, took what the defense gave him and made play after play. He was a couple of overthrows away from an absolutely perfect night — and he clearly enjoyed every minute of it. If he was broken before, he might just be fixed now.
Jarran Reed: Quietly — even if it hasn’t translated to the box score — Reed has been playing some good football lately. With production from Frank Clark, Chris Jones, Melvin Ingram and Derrick Nnadi, the whole defensive line is getting healthier and more effective. But against the Raiders, Jarran Reed stood out with his first sack in a Chiefs uniform — and a quarterback hit that led to Daniel Sorensen’s interception.
Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill: It’s no coincidence that on a night where the Chiefs offense got back on track, the dynamic duo of Kelce and Hill led the way. Both guys had been struggling, looking like they were slowed by nagging injuries. Some even suggested that they weren’t the same guys anymore. After they combined for over 200 yards and two touchdowns, and all is right with the world again. Hill was the workhorse early, while Kelce took the lead later in the game — and they both looked as spry as ever. Perhaps more importantly, they were back on the same page as their quarterback.
Noah Gray: His development hasn’t been as fast — or as fun — as we had hoped, but Gray has been putting in the work. He’s developed into a really strong blocker, which is really starting to pay dividends. On Sunday, he persevered through two incomplete passes and found a way to score his first NFL touchdown — all on the same drive.
The Chiefs’ run defense: A few weeks ago, people were talking about this being one of the worst units in history. But they allowed only 50 rushing yards to Las Vegas. Playing with a lead, they forced the Raiders to be one-dimensional — which allowed the pass rush to get after Derek Carr. After stringing together a few solid performances, the Chiefs are rising up the rankings; now they are squarely in the middle of the pack. We’ve said all along that this team just needed a defense that was average — and suddenly, they are proving they’re actually good.
Mike Hughes: Given the ball security issues the team has faced, they made a change at punt returner. Already benched as a cornerback, Hughes took over for Mecole Hardman and the results looked... familiar. After an explosive return, Hughes coughed up the football, setting the Raiders up for a first-half touchdown. That didn’t help his case for more playing time.
Derrick Gore: After a brief glimpse at his promising ability, Gore had his second straight game where he wasn’t able to get anything going. He’s already buried on the depth chart behind Williams — who had a huge day — but was also outshined by Jerick McKinnon in limited action. Next week, Clyde Edwards-Helaire might be back, putting Gore at real risk of going back to the practice squad.
Josh Gordon: Another week, another missed opportunity to get Gordon involved in the offense. No targets, no catches for the second-most-talented receiver on this offense. With the team’s reported interest in Odell Beckham, Jr., you have to wonder if the team is ever going to find a role for Gordon.