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Mathieu on Raiders’ pre-game stunt: ‘Champions don’t act in that manner’

A disrespectful gesture on Kansas City’s midfield logo shows a distinct difference between the two teams.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Somehow, the most embarrassing part about the Las Vegas Raiders48-9 loss at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t happen during their pitiful performance on Sunday afternoon.

No, it happened before their thrashing — when Raiders’ defensive end Yannick Ngakoue summoned his teammates to go out of their way to gather at midfield before their final descent into the locker room before the opening kickoff.

Standing on the Chiefs logo painted at Arrowhead Stadium’s 50-yard line, he hyped up his teammates — while boos began to rain down from fans. It was a clear message from the Las Vegas team, which came to Kansas City last season and won.

And then... the game proceeded to go exactly as someone who believes in karma would expect it to go.

On the first play, the Raiders lost a fumble that the Chiefs returned for a touchdown. None of Las Vegas’ next five possessions even advanced past midfield — while the Chiefs’ offense scored touchdowns on four consecutive drives.

When the Raiders finally earned a field goal to end the first half, Kansas City led 35-3 — nearly the worst first-half deficit in the organization’s storied history.

The win pushes head coach Andy Reid’s Chiefs record against the Raiders to 15-3 — and 8-1 at home. The 48-9 final is the most significant point differential in a game between these two since Reid’s arrival. Since quarterback Patrick Mahomes took over as the starter, it was the sixth time in eight Raiders games the Chiefs have scored 35 or more points — and the fifth time they’ve won by at least 18.

In other words, this was just the latest example of how the relationship between these rivals works — and the Raiders’ pre-game decision was the perfect example of it. The Raiders exhibit little brother syndrome — and before the game, they displayed it.

According to their post-game comments, players like cornerback Mike Hughes and safety Tyrann Mathieu didn’t know about it until after the game — but that didn’t stop players from commenting on it; safety Armani Watts directly referred to the Raiders as “little brothers” in a post-game tweet.

Reid had the first shot at commenting on it after the game — and he gave just the kind of response you might expect.

“We don’t pay much attention to the other stuff,” Reid assured reporters. “We know what they do.”

A rough translation: “A lion doesn’t concern itself with the opinion of sheep.”

It points to the Chiefs’ internal focus, which is to not think about a specific team but rather a specific goal: another Super Bowl title. No rivalry with a team — or an individual regular-season game — feels like the most significant moment of their season. Their collective minds are on getting in position to go on a postseason run — while the Raiders treated Sunday’s noon kickoff like that of a high school game for a state title.

If anything, the move gave a little boost to a Chiefs team — especially the offense — that needed a way to get truly back on track. After acknowledging that there wasn’t a lot of talk about the Raiders’ pre-game meeting, quarterback Patrick Mahomes made clear how he (and his teammates) feel about it.

“You don’t want people coming into your stadium and disrespecting what you’ve built,” Mahomes told reporters.

What they’ve built is a team that’s won five straight AFC West titles — and hasn’t had a losing season since 2012. The Raiders’ latest attempt at their second winning season in 19 years just took another hit as they fell to 6-7.

A trait of little brother syndrome is recognizing a rivalry much more than the other sibling does — that is, by stomping on a logo before a game as if they own the field. It’s about them desperately trying to keep up — as the older brother matures into a championship contender.

But instead, they come across as foolish — and the rival that has historically dominated them didn’t take kindly to seeing it.

“That’s pretty disrespectful,” said Hughes after the game.

But it was veteran safety Mathieu who best summed up the attempted intimidation.

“It doesn’t really move me,” he admitted at his post-game press conference. “I don’t think champions act in that manner. It doesn’t even matter.”

That’s the difference: it’s hard to imagine the Chiefs ever feeling the need to make this kind of statement on another team’s field. You can bet your life savings that there won’t be a response in the form of the Chiefs’ standing on Las Vegas’ logo next season. By the time they wake up on Monday, this team’s players won’t even remember it happened; a Thursday game against the Los Angeles Chargers — and getting a stranglehold on the AFC West — is what’s on their minds.

Instead, the team — outside of a few well-earned shots on Twitter — will let the team’s fans, social media staff and PA announcers do the trolling for them:

That part is another factor in the difference between these two organizations: the Chiefs let their supporters and stakeholders do the talking — while the coaches and players do the winning. It’s exactly why Reid is a legendary coach — and why his team always bounces back from rough stretches.

Meanwhile, the Raiders will likely be looking for another head coach next season — the franchise’s fourth since Reid came to Kansas City. Sunday’s pre-game notion was a great example of the mentality that keeps the Raiders in the back seat of the AFC West — while the Chiefs hold the steering wheel.

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