For the first time in eight seasons, the Kansas City Chiefs fell to the division rival Raiders at home. The defending champs started this game hot, though this year’s version of the Raiders has not gone away lightly. Derek Carr looked like an entirely different player, having finally exorcising his Arrowhead Stadium demons. Meanwhile, the Chiefs beat themselves just as much as their opponent, once again. As we’ll talk about later on, this is not new territory for Andy Reid‘s team either. Now, let’s recap the game with the major highlights.
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Credit to Jon Gruden and Carr on the game plan that they came in with, and more importantly, executing it. The Kansas City defense had come in with a glowing resume based off a miniscule 2020 spread to base off of. But, they were yet to be consistently challenged deep down the field. That seemed to catch the Chiefs defensive backfield off guard in this one.
The speed factor of Henry Ruggs III and Nelson Agholor appeared to be less respected than you would imagine. It was not like they were being overly crafty in their routes, either. Ruggs touchdown catch was simply him running a straight line route right by Charvarius Ward, who had one of his worst games in recent memory. Other wrong judgements when jumping on shorter routes left more opportunity for Carr to hit open passes deep. As a result, Carr was able to connect for 219 passing yards on throws that traveled 20+ yards downfield. This loss was largely on the Chiefs defensive performance, especially in the secondary.
Failure To Finish
This offensive performance reminded me exactly of the Chiefs regular season loss at home against the Houston Texans from last year. Patrick Mahomes was able to spread the ball around to multiple weapons, while successfully hitting on chances downfield. Unfortunately, penalties, negative plays, missed assignments and mental errors started to snowball near the end of the first half and into a dismal second half.
Losing Kelechi Osemele to devastating tendon injuries in both knees seemed to take the edge out of the blocking unit. Not that Mike Remmers is a bad consolation prize, but that powerful dynamic that Osemele brings was essential to this offense. Moreover, the Chiefs were playing undisciplined and could not get on the same page. Mahomes struggled to hit on passes, and held on to the football too long in a number of instances. Las Vegas did a great job in coverage, but the carefulness that Patrick played with backed Kansas City into a corner.
In the end, the Chiefs barely possessed the ball in the second half, having to throw up prayers. That was exactly like that Texans loss from last year. We have also questioned Reid this season and in the past, on why the longer routes are continuously ran, while avoiding shorter and quicker passes.
Raiders’ Youth Delivers
Just how were the Raiders defense able to slow down the Chiefs offense? Let’s dive deeper into that discussion. For one, the Chiefs were still able to score 32 points. But overall, this team was smart to make Mahomes and his weapons indecisive. Allowing the base four defensive linemen to provide pressure themselves, was alike what we saw from the Patriots. This allowed Vegas to drop seven or even eight guys into coverage, thus taking away throwing windows and much of the field. With this approach, the younger, more physical Vegas secondary was able to play to their strengths.
And it frustrated the Chiefs offensive unit. It seemed like no matter what they threw Kansas City’s way, the Chiefs offense had no easy answer to counteract it. If it wasn’t for Mahomes improvisation and abilities from Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and others, this could have been a lot bigger looking win for the Raiders on the scoreboard.
Reassessing And Adapting
We have seen Kansas City start hot in September, but falter in October beforehand. Last season, the team suffered two straight losses that left more questions than answers. Following a 4-0 start, this loss to the Raiders is not the end of the world. Nonetheless, the Chiefs’ leaders know they and their teammates have to start to turn it up a notch.
Tyrann Mathieu talked about his motivation, following Sunday’s loss. “Who am I as a leader to jump down their (teammates) throat, because we didn’t perform as we’d like. Obviously, I’ll remind them. We’ll grow from it, even myself. I gave up a big play today, we’ll get back in the lab. It’s a good feeling to be this motivated. I haven’t felt this motivated in a really long time, and I know my teammates feel the same way.”
How will that translate in this week’s preparation for a big game at the Buffalo Bills? We will find out next week. In the leadup to that Chiefs and Bills game, be sure to follow along all week for game preview content and more. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.