Victory lap rivalry? There’s new fire in Raiders, Chiefs long-running hostility

Gruden calls reports of a bus celebration ‘ridiculous’

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Steve Marcus

Las Vegas head coach Jon Gruden keeps an eye on the action during the second half of a game against the Denver Broncos at Allegiant Stadium Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020.

Mon, Nov 16, 2020 (2:20 p.m.)

Derek Carr famously said the Raiders “have to win some games” to make their series with the Chiefs a rivalry again going into the teams’ first matchup this season. Going into the teams’ second matchup at 5:20 Sunday night at Allegiant Stadium, the rivalry has officially returned.

Las Vegas coach Jon Gruden and Kansas City coach Andy Reid had a disagreement over the aftermath of the Raiders’ 40-32 victory at the Chiefs earlier this season in their respective news conferences Monday afternoon. First, Reid was asked about the Raiders’ team buses circling around Arrowhead Stadium following the victory.

“They won the game so they can do anything they want to do,” Reid said, according to ESPN. “That’s not our style.”

When Gruden was later asked for his response, he furrowed his brow, wiped his forehead and frowned before answering it’s “not really” something he thinks about.

“You can find a smart aleck bus driver in Kansas City who made some snide comments when we got on the bus,” Gruden said. “Maybe that’s why we drove around the stadium, just to tick him off. This is ridiculous. Next question.”

It would make sense if the Raiders wanted to cherish the win in Kansas City considering it was their first at Arrowhead since 2012. They also snapped the Chiefs’ 13-game winning streak dating back midway through last year’s Super Bowl season.

The Chiefs had beaten the Raiders five straight times and in eight of their last nine meetings to prompt the comments from Carr that the rivalry was nonexistent. He admitted it was back after the victory, and in fairness, the game next Sunday night at Allegiant Stadium was going to feel like a grudge match regardless of the bus situation.

Las Vegas (6-3) looks like the only team that could keep Kansas City (8-1) from winning its fifth straight AFC West title.

“It’s two good football teams playing each other,” Reid said. “I don’t think either team likes the other that much, as they’ve stated before.”

The Raiders would need some help to catch the Chiefs even with another victory as they’d still be a game behind in the standings.

But Las Vegas is treating the game with a degree of magnitude. Gruden was noticeably muted after the Raiders beat the Broncos yesterday and mentioned that they had a lot to do to get ready for the Chiefs.

He had the same mentality on Monday.

“I have a lot of respect for how hard it is to win in this league,” Gruden said. “You try to enjoy it for a couple hours and then you’ve got to get up early and get ready for the next one. This is a big one, obviously.”

Gruden appeared genuinely perturbed by the victory-lap talk, but coaches’ reactions can’t always be taken at face value. It’s also possible he was trying to send a message to his team.

Either way, the "ridiculous" characterization surely ingratiated Gruden to the fan base, which has never faltered in considering the Chiefs a heated rival. Raider fans have also made it a point of contention that the Chiefs are coming off of their bye week to face the Raiders for the fourth time in the last five years.

Gruden feigned a chuckle when asked about the scheduling quirk.

“I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, you know? Sure it’s a coincidence” Gruden said before pausing. “I don’t know. I don’t think about it. The schedule is the schedule. You’ve got to adapt to it and that’s what we’ll do.”

Reid is known as one of the best NFL coaches off of the bye week with a career record of 23-5 — including playoffs — when his teams have extra rest. Before disapproving of their bus route, Reid praised the Raiders and the improvement they’ve made in Gruden’s third year.

Gruden and Reid are friends dating back to their time spent together as assistants under Mike Holmgren with the Green Bay Packers from 1992-1994. Just not this week, where they seem to be embracing a renewed rivalry between their current teams.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for (Reid) and I know he’s had thorough preparation,” Gruden said. “It will be a juggernaut coming in here.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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