Chiefs made plays when needed; Raiders made mistakes

OAKLAND, Calif.—Never mind the glass is half-full optimism, the ifs and the might-haves. The Oakland Raiders are not a very good football team. And that’s the reason they couldn’t beat a team that is very good, Kansas City, even thought the Chiefs on Sunday were playing their first game without running back Kareem Hunt, cut for attacking a woman.

  Whether the Chiefs were affected by the incident, caught on videotape, or by the loss of Hunt, is uncertain. But for sure they have enough quality players, including young quarterback Patrick Mahomes, to overcome the situation—which is always the case of winning teams.    Maybe the Raiders, who were 2-9 entering the game and two touchdown underdogs, were courageous. Maybe the Raiders showed resilience after their own mistakes, fumbles and penalties, seemingly gave them no chance. Maybe head coach Jon Gruden said, “We are playing good football.”

  But this season at least they are not on the same level as Chiefs. In the end, despite the loud support from a Coliseum crowd listed at 55,255; despite one of Derek Carr’s better games (passing for 285 yards and three touchdowns) the Chiefs were, 40-33, winners.

    KC is 10-2, leading the AFC. It makes plays when needed, as opposed to the Raiders, who in this one made mistakes when they weren’t needed, losing three fumbles and early on being called for a holding penalty which negated a first down and forced a punt.

   “Three fumbles and a fourth and one conversion call,” said Gruden. “Against the Kansas City Chiefs that’s going to be tough to overcome.”

  No impossible to overcome, especially when you add a 22-yard first quarter punt by Johnny Townsend.

  Mahomes, who is having a brilliant season, and tight end Travis Kelce, hurt the Raiders. “Travis and Patrick (Mahomes) made some incredible plays. They must live together or something. Give credit to those guys. You can’t do anything sometimes but tip your cap.”

  Carr did something. With the Raiders in the hole from the start he helped them climb back.

    “And that brings the Raiders to within 10 points,” public address announcer Gary Williams shouted to the crowd after a Carr to Jared Cook touchdown pass made it 26-16 in the third period. Exciting but not fulfilling.

   Possibility evolved into disappointment.

  “Somebody said earlier,” Gruden offered, “we haven’t fumbled the ball all year. They (the Raiders) are making good runs. I think one was on first and 10, the other on second and two and another after a long run. Sometimes when you’re in traffic you have to put the ball away.”

   Gruden made a smart move in the closing minute, something those decades earlier John Madden did against the Steelers in a playoff—trailing by 10, kicking a field goal rather than trying for a touchdown and then a field goal. But the Raiders couldn’t come up with the ball on the onside kick with 28 seconds to play.

 “We had them backed up,” said Gruden, “and thought we could kick and cover. (Daniel) Carlson made a great onside kick. Maybe it didn’t go the exact 10 yards, but it was hell of a kick.”

  That quote sort of reflected the Raider performance. They didn’t go the full distance, but they played a hell of a game. Then again, the NFL gets down to wins and losses, and the Raiders in 2018 have far too many losses.

  The stats were decent, 442 net yards compared to 469 for KC. The result was not. Mahomes was one reason (23 of 38 for 295 yards and four TDs). The turnovers were another reason.

  “Mahomes made a third and 15 play that was right on my sideline,” said Gruden. “I was so outside of myself I was upset. He made so many plays today. I was proud of our quarterback too. It was a shootout of two great young quarterbacks.”

  The other, Carr, said, “There was no doubt we were going to win. But give credit to the Chiefs. They are really good.”

  And at this moment in time the Raiders are not.

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