Final Score: Kansas City Chiefs 48, Las Vegas Raiders 9
Offense (Talon Graff)
The Chiefs already had the lead before the offense ever took a snap thanks to a defensive scoop-and-score on the Raiders’ first play from scrimmage. Once the offense did get a chance, it was a polar opposite for last week’s opening drive: a quick three-and-out was all they could muster. Two short runs from Clyde Edwards-Helaire set up an incomplete pass attempt to Travis Kelce.
The second drive — and the three that followed — all wound up in the end zone. The Chiefs leaned on their running backs quite a bit with Clyde Edwards-Helaire on the ground and Darrel Williams through the air. Edwards-Helaire had two rushing touchdowns, while Williams caught his second touchdown of the season. The rushing numbers weren’t spectacular — but the offense exuded efficiency throughout the first half; on third-down attempts, they were five for six through the opening two quarters. The biggest run came on a 52-yard touchdown scamper by Derrick Gore late in the fourth quarter — but by then, the game was well in hand: at intermission, the Chiefs led 35-3.
Left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. had a tough day against defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who exposed Brown on a number of plays. Ngakoue nearly sacked quarterback Patrick Mahomes on the big pass completion to Mecole Hardman on their first touchdown drive. Andrew Wylie also struggled, allowing a couple of sacks.
The interior offensive line did their usual things — although they were penalized for ineligible receiver downfield more often than usual; that tends to happen with RPO play-calls, which the team appeared to use more often than in other games. Right guard Trey Smith continued to create highlight-level blocks — which are most welcome when they come in pass-protection reps.
Mahomes looked like... himself throughout the contest. He was scrambling comfortably, making a number of his signature across-the-body throws. Byron Pringle is back in good graces after being the recipient of one of those: a 28-yards recpetion that set up the Chiefs’ second offensive touchdown. Hardman also came through on two big completions. Mahomes ended the day with 258 yards and two touchdown passes. In the fourth quarter, Chad Henne finished off the game.
Tyreek Hill made a few big plays — but what else is new? On one of the more memorable plays from the game, Mahomes scrambled left and threw all the way across the field, finding Hill for a clutch 38-yard third-down conversion. These two have created numerous third-down ‘wow’ moments throughout their careers. Josh Gordon was finally able to score his first touchdown with Kansas City.
Travis Kelce had a quiet day — but given that the Chiefs were able to score in other ways, there is nothing wrong with that. He didn’t catch his first pass until the second quarter — but when he did, he exploded for a 19-yard catch. His second went for only seven yards but got the team a first down. Both receptions ended with Kelce taking pretty good hits. In the coming short week, that could be a blessing.
Offensive Player of the Game: running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire
The second-year ball carrier from LSU scored two rushing touchdowns — making three since returning from injury in Week 11. His second touchdown run was impressive; he paused and bounced the run outside after his first surge was stuffed. He displayed good vision and quickness to find the end zone.
Defense (Ron Kopp)
Another incredible performance from the Chiefs’ defense happened despite an unfortunate absence: cornerback L’Jarius Sneed missed the game because of a family tragedy.
With a needs at both outside and slot cornerback, the Chiefs turned to Mike Hughes to start outside — and then used safety Tyrann Mathieu to man the slot when they needed three cornerbacks. That forced safety Daniel Sorensen to play every snap — rather than just the dime snaps he would usually see. On those dime snaps, Mathieu returned to his safety position while Rashad Fenton — who had been declared questionable for the game — manned the slot.
The main theme of the performance was the defensive line’s domination of the Raiders’ front — and that began on the game’s first snap. On a run to the left, running back Josh Jacobs had the ball forced out on a tackle by defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who met him in the backfield; Chris Jones’ initial penetration forced Jacobs to bounce outside and allowed Reed to meet him. Cornerback Mike Hughes returned the fumble for a score.
On the next drive, the defensive line made its presence felt again. Jones and edge rusher Melvin Ingram combined for a sack on a first down; Las Vegas never recovered. The following possession was also ended in a sack — this time from defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton and Frank Clark; Clark even had a sack wiped off the board because of a defensive holding penalty.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is experimenting with pass-rush packages, using snaps that featured Jones on the inside and Ingram on the outside from the same side of the ball — but also in flipped alignments with Ingram inside and Jones outside; both plays ended with one of the two making an impact.
The back end of Kansas City’s defense didn’t get many opportunities to make plays because the defensive line dominated — but they made him when they were there: Sorensen got in on a pass over the middle on the Raiders’ fifth drive, causing it to go into the air for Mathieu to intercept. On the next possession, Hughes was again a key player in a turnover, forcing a fumble on a big completion over the middle; Mathieu recovered.
In run defense, the usual suspect stood out with impressive run stops sprinkled into the performance: defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi made a good play and linebacker Nick Bolton made multiple pl;ays.
Speaking of Bolton, his impact continues to come in a more limited capacity; linebacker Anthony Hitchens possesses the MIKE linebacker position, leaving Bolton to play only on base-formation snaps. In that role, his skills against the run are well-utilized.
With a great day from its pass rushers, Kansas City’s third-down defense once again dominated: the Raiders finished with only three conversions on 10 attempts.
All in all, the defensive line’s presence was the biggest key unit’s success: eight different quarterback hits and two sacks; five players recorded a quarterback hit. But the unit’s most valuable player was in the secondary.
Defensive Player of the Game: safety Tyrann Mathieu
The veteran made an impact in all phases of the defense’s performance, taking the ball away on two occasions — and also leading the unit in tackles (five) by the time the first-team unit was pulled late in the game. One of those tackles was a big hit to stop a third-down conversion; Mathieu knocked big-bodied tight end Foster Moreau to the ground — and flexed. He also deserves credit for seamlessly transitioning into the slot role in Sneed’s absence; his versatility continues to be vital to this group’s success.