On Christmas Day, the Kansas City Chiefs came into their Week 16 division matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders in a position to claim their seventh straight victory over their longtime rivals, claim a ninth-straight postseason berth and an eighth consecutive division title. But the Raiders spoiled all of that with a 20-14 victory over the Chiefs on GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Raiders won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Richie James fielded Daniel Carlson’s kickoff at the two-yard line. He returned the kick 30 yards to begin the “Mahomes and Kelce Holiday Special” at the Chiefs’ 32-yard line.
Las Vegas was not in a giving holiday spirit on the Chiefs’ first drive. Running back Isiah Pacheco’s first touch after a two-game absence went for a two yard loss. Patrick Mahomes was not able to get the ball off on the next two plays, losing a combined 11 yards to end the drive with an ugly three-and-out. Tommy Townsend came on to let off a 56-yard punt to the Las Vegas 23-yard line. Return man DeAndre Carter muffed the punt, but the Raiders were able to recover the fumble to start their first drive at the 22-yard line.
Running back Zamir White gained four yards on first down. Chiefs safety Mike Edwards was injured during the play. After Edwards was helped off the field, Chris Jones came through with an eight-yard sack of rookie quarterback Aiden O’Connell. O’Connell threw the ball to the ground on third down under pressure, and the Raiders matched Kansas City in starting Christmas Day with a three-and-out. Raiders punter AJ Cole sent the ball to the Kansas City 36-yard line, and a 13-yard return by James brought the ball to the 49-yard line. After a Las Vegas illegal formation penalty was assessed, the Chiefs would start their second drive at the Las Vegas 46-yard line.
Despite outstanding field position, the Chiefs’ second drive was just as ugly. Travis Kelce dropped a pass on first down, before a false start on Rashee Rice set up a second-and-15 back at the Raiders’ 49-yard line. A seven-yard Mahomes scramble was then followed with a nine-yard Mahomes sack. Townsend’s second punt would be downed at the Las Vegas seven-yard line, putting the Raiders deep in their own territory to start their second drive.
White gained 11 yards combined on the drive’s first two plays, giving the Raiders a first down at the 18-yard line. O’Connell then hit tight end Cole Fotheringham and wide receiver Davante Adams on back-to-back throws for a new set of downs. Jones nearly had his second sack of the first quarter, but O’Connell was able to get the ball to tight end Austin Hooper for nine yards, before a carry by rookie wide receiver Tre Tucker moved the chains. A 13-yard pass to wide receiver Jacobi Meyers moved the ball into Chiefs territory. Meyers and White combined to set up a new set of downs at the Kansas City 33-yard line. Meyers took a screen pass to the 12-yard line. The drive would stall at the six-yard line, and Carlson was true on a 24-yard field goal to open the scoring at 3-0 Raiders.
James took another short kickoff but was only able to return to the touchback mark of the 25-yard line. Mahomes finally completed a pass to start the drive — but unfortunately, Pacheco’s catch went for a six-yard loss. A one-yard pass to the running back went for a yard as the first quarter came to a close with the Chiefs trailing amidst a total of negative 18 yards of offense for the opening frame. They would face third-and-15 from their own 20 on the other side of the break.
The Chiefs opened the drive by finally getting a first down via a Raider holding penalty. On first-and-10, again from the 25-yard line, Mahomes was incomplete under heavy pressure from edge rusher Maxx Crosby. Pacheco then lost three yards on the next carry, to set up another third-and-long. Mahomes was complete to Rice, but the play was two yards short of the line to gain. Carter fair caught Townsend’s third punt of the half at the Las Vegas 25-yard line.
Edwards returned as the drive began, and his coverage on Adams helped start the drive with an O’Connell incompletion. He went back to Adams on second down only to see the ball bounce off of the top receiver’s hands. Cornerback Trent McDuffie timed a great blitz on third down to force a quick throw which Adams had no hope of covering. James called for a fair catch at the Kansas City 25-yard line to start the Chiefs’ fourth drive.
Pacheco was held to no gain on first down, and the Chiefs called their first timeout between plays. Mahomes and Marquez Veldes-Scantling could not connect on second down, setting up yet another third-and-long. Mahomes connected with Rice for 15 yards to keep the drive going with a new set of downs. Mahomes scrambled for five yards, and a two-yard Pacheco carry set up third-and-3. James caught the short pass to move the chains. Kelce caught his 900th career reception behind the line of scrimmage but rumbled to the Raider 23-yard line. The league’s best tight end gained six yards on essentially the same play a snap later to bring Kansas City into the red zone. Pacheco then took over the drive with a five-yard carry to set up a first down at the 12-yard line. The second year back then took a direct snap and faked a reverse to Mahomes before taking the ball to the end zone. Butker’s extra point was true to give the Chiefs a 7-3 lead.
Butker’s first kickoff of the afternoon narrowly went into the end zone, setting the Raiders at their own 25-yard line. Two runs by White quickly gained a first down at the 36. A drop by Adams slowed the drive’s momentum, and Cole came on at the Las Vegas 43-yard line for another punt, which went out of bounds at the Chiefs’ 13-yard line to bring Mahomes and company back on the field.
Disaster struck at the drive’s start as another direct snap to Pacheco was fumbled. Defensive tackle Bilal Nichols took the loose ball to the end zone for an easy defensive touchdown. Miscommunication on the extra point left the score at 9-7 Raiders.
Carlson’s extra point went for a touchback, brining the Chiefs’ offense back on at their own 25-yard line. Mahomes attempted to find wide receiver Justin Watson on the sideline, but Raiders cornerback Jack Jones intercepted the ball for a pick six, giving the Raiders a pair of defensive scores on consecutive plays. Running back Brandon Bolden took a direct snap for a successful two-point conversion to extend Las Vegas’ lead to 17-7.
Another touchback put the Chiefs back on their own 25-yard line now down two scores only 12 seconds of gametime removed from having a four-point lead. After Las Vegas used their first time out, a short throw to Rice gained nine yards. Watson caught Mahomes’ next pass for a new set of downs at the Raider 43-yard line. Pacheco gained five yards on first down, and Mahomes called for Kansas City’s second timeout after seeing the Raiders’ formation for second-and-5.
Mahomes was nearly intercepted again after the timeout on a deep throw to Rice. Mahomes could not make the third down throw. Townsend came on for another punt, but then found Watson for a sliding catch on the sideline to keep the drive alive. Offsetting fouls on the next play brought the half to the two minute warning with the Chiefs facing a first-and-10 at the Las Vegas 41-yard line.
Pacheco caught a pass for no gain on first down. A seven-yard throw to Kelce set up third-and-3 at the 34-yard line, and the Raiders took their second timeout.
Mahomes scrambled for an eternity before finding Watson at the 23. Mahomes was not as shifty on the next play and threw the ball to the ground under pressure. Another incompletion on second down was followed by a completion to Kelce that not make the line to gain. For the second consecutive week, Butker was no good on a field goal, keeping the score at Raiders 17, Chiefs 7.
O’Connell kneeled to bring a disastrous half for Kansas City to a merciful end.
The second half started with another touchback kick from Butker. White then carried the ball on the first two plays to set up third-and-5 at the Raiders’ 30-yard line. The Chiefs appeared to have gotten off the field with a three-and-out, but a pass interference penalty on Sneed gave Las Vegas a new set of downs at their own 45. After three yards on the first two downs, cornerback Jaylen Watson broke up a deep pass to Meyers. After a holding penalty on Joshua Williams during the punt, Kansas City’s first possession of the half would start at their own seven-yard line.
Pacheco gained three yards on first down. Mahomes lost a yard on a sideline scramble to force a third-and-8. Mahomes only gained four yards on the next play, seeming to force another three-and-out, but a hands to the face penalty against the Raiders gave the drive additional life. Under heavy pressure, Mahomes found returning wide receiver Justyn Ross for a two-yard gain. A seven-yard screen to Rice set up a third-and-1 at the 30-yard line. Pacheco was not able to get the final yard, and Mahomes lined up to take a rare fourth-and-1 snap in Kansas City territory. After a timeout, Mahomes kept the ball and ran seven yard to move the chains. Pacheco gained two yards on first down, and Mahomes then scrambled 13 yards to the Las Vegas 48-yard line. Clyde Edwards-Helaire carried on the next two snaps to total five yards. On third-and-5 from the 43-yard line, Rice could not find a quick pass. Mahomes and Rice could not connect deep, and the Raiders took possession.
O’Connell was pressured deep behind the line on first down and his throw went incomplete. White gained four yards on second down, and Charles Omenihu found O’Connell for a six-yard sack on third down. James fielded Cole’s punt at the Kansas City nine-yard line and returned it ten yards to start Kansas City’s struggling offense at its own 19 to start the drive.
Mahomes took a four-yard sack on first down. Mahomes found Pacheco for a five-yard gain, but the running back’s helmet came off and he left the field after taking a blow to the head. Mahomes was incomplete deep to Watson on third down. The problems of the three-and-out were compounded as Townsend shanked the punt, and the ball only traveled 25 yards. The Raiders took possession at the Kansas City 45-yard line.
White gained six yards on first down, and Sneed was injured making the tackle. White then gained three more yards — and Sneed then ran back onto the field. White then rumbled for 16 yards to give Las Vegas a new set of downs at the Chiefs’ 17-yard line. The Raiders would not gain another yard, however, and Carlson’s 35-yard field goal extended their lead to 20-7 with 24 second remaining in the third quarter.
James took another short kickoff but could only advance to the 23-yard line. On the final play of the third quarter, a completion to Rice went for seven yards.
Rice started the final quarter with another catch for eight yards. Mahomes scrambled for eight yards, and then a short pass to Noah Gray entered Raider territory. Mahomes appeared to have thrown what likely would have effectively been a game ending interception on first down, but safety Tre’Von Moerig was unable to keep the ball from hitting the ground. After a huge break, Edwards-Helaire took a nine-yard reception to set up third-and-1 from the 41-yard line. Mahomes ran for seven yards to move the chains. A holding call on rookie tackle Wanya Morries erased a five-yard Edwards-Helaire carry to set up first-and-18 at the 42-yard line. After a one yard Mahomes rush, Edwards-Helaire broke a tackle on a screen pass for a 32-yard gain to the nine-yard line. Kelce dropped a short pass on first down before gaining two hard-fought yards on the next play. On third-and-goal from the seven-yard line, the Raiders called their first timeout of the half.
Mahomes was incomplete to Rice after the pause, setting up fourth-and-goal. Rice again could not connect with his quarterback, turning the ball back over to the Raiders.
White gained seven yards before losing two. Ameer Abdullah came in at running back and gained seven yards for a new first down as the clock winded under eight minutes. Consecutive carries for White went for three yards apiece, and third down, O’Connell was incomplete to wide receiver Hunter Renfrow, leaving the Chiefs a narrow window to come back. James was unable to gain yardage after fielding Cole’s punt at the Kansas City 32-yard line.
The drive started with five free yards for Kansas City after the Raiders had too many men on the field. Mahomes, unfortunately could find no one open on the ensuing first-and-5. A throw to tight end Blake Bell only gained four yards on second down, and Edwards-Helaire could not gain the needed yard on third down. Mahomes slid to move the chains on fourth down. After a short pass to James went out of bounds to stop the clock, the receiver connected with Mahomes for a 47-yard gain. A short gain by Edwards-Helaire and an incompletion in the end zone to Gray quickly brought up third down. Mahomes escaped pressure to find Watson in the end zone. Butker’s extra point narrowed the Raiders lead to 20-14 with 2:42 remaining in the game.
Butker’s kick went into the end zone for a touchback. White then gained six yards on first down, and the Chiefs called their second timeout. The second year back then essentially iced the game for Las Vegas with a 43-yard rush to the Chiefs’ 26-yard line. The Chiefs called their final timeout to desperately stop the clock. A 15-yard rush brought the game to the two-minute warning.
Three kneel downs brought arguably the worst Kansas City loss of the Mahomes era to an end. With the victory, the Raiders keep their slim postseason hopes alive — and likely make interim head coach Antonio Pierce a commanding leader in the clubhouse for the permanent gig. The Chiefs were unable to clinch a seventh-consecutive AFC West division title. While Kansas City remains highly likely to at least make a playoff appearance, they are now mathematically eliminated from the AFC’s top playoff position.
Safety Mike Edwards was injured on the Raiders’ first play from scrimmage in the first quarter. While the defensive back was seen using a bike on the sideline, the Chiefs announced he was questionable to return with a knee injury. He returned to the field in the second quarter.
Running back Isiah Pacheco left the field in the third quarter after taking a blow to his head after his helmet came off. He was later reported to be in concussion protocol and ruled out
L’Jarius Sneed was injured making a tackle on Raiders running back Zamir White in the third quarter. He returned after missing only one play.
Guard Trey Smith left the field in the fourth quarter and was replaced by Nick Allegretti. He returned to the game after a reported knee injury but left again on the next drive.
In the second quarter, punter Tommy Townsend successfully executed a fake punt, finding wide receiver Justin Watson on the sideline to give the Chiefs a first down at the Raider 41-yard line.