The defending Super Bowl champions were just a little too much for the upstart Las Vegas Raiders.
The Kansas City Chiefs got the vengeance they sought Sunday night at Allegiant Stadium, beating the Raiders 35-31 to make up for its only loss of the past year. The Raiders pushed the Chiefs to the brink, but the champions rose to the occasion.
A 22-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes to Travis Kelce with 28 seconds remaining lifted Kansas City to the victory. Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr tried to force a deep throw to Nelson Agholor on first-down after the score, and Daniel Sorensen stepped in for the interception to clinch the win.
Carr was otherwise phenomenal, allowing Las Vegas to lead most of the game and threaten to beat Kansas City for the second time in six weeks. The game featured five lead changes in the final 21 minutes, including with 1:43 remaining in the game when Carr hit Jason Witten for a 1-yard touchdown pass to go up 31-28.
Mahomes coolly took the Chiefs 75 yards down the field in seven plays and 1:15 before finding Kelce on what looked like a blown coverage by strong safety Johnathan Abram. Mahomes completed 34 of 45 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns on the night.
Carr went 23-for-31 with 275 yards and three touchdowns. Nelson Agholor and Darren Waller also caught touchdown passes for Las Vegas, which scored on each of its first two drives.
Kansas City also scored on its first two drives, however, and stayed within striking range all night. That allowed them just enough time to lean on Mahomes to improve to 9-1 on the year.
Las Vegas falls to 6-4 going into next week’s game at Atlanta and still sits in a playoff spot despite the loss.
Check back to lasvegassun.com later for more coverage.
Raiders lead 31-28 with 1:48 to go
The Kansas City Chiefs will have a two-minute drill to win or tie the game.
That’s the bad news for Raiders’ fans. The good news is Las Vegas just took the lead and only need to hold to beat the defending Super Bowl champions for the second time this season.
Jason Witten caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr on third-and-goal. The Raiders got the ball at the 1-yard line when Bashaud Breeland was called for a pass interference on Nelson Agholor in the end zone.
Penalties greatly assisted the scoring drive. Kansas City was flagged five times, though Las Vegas declined one of the infractions.
Witten also was flagged for a false start at the 1-yard line, moving the ball back a couple plays before his eventual touchdown.
Chiefs lead by four points late in fourth quarter
Le'Veon Bell has scored his first touchdown as a Kansas City Chief — and it was a big one.
The veteran took a pitch from Patrick Mahomes six yards for a touchdown to put the Chiefs up 28-24 over the Raiders with just under 6 minutes remaining. Kansas City now has three rushing touchdowns on the night to one passing.
Mahomes has still put up big numbers, however, with 273 yards on 28-for-38 passing. Derek Carr has completed 19 of 23 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns and is due back on the field to try to answer the Chiefs once again.
Raiders take back the lead over the Chiefs
The Raiders’ offense just keeps rolling.
After the Chiefs took their first lead of the game, the Raiders answered with a touchdown drive of their own to go up 24-21 to start the fourth quarter. Darren Waller caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr, his second score of the day, to cap an 11-play, 75-yard drive.
Carr now has 242 passing yards on the night. The Raiders have 307 total yards at a clip of 7.5 yards per play. The Chiefs are at 312 yards and 6.4 yards per play.
Chiefs go up 21-17 to start third quarter
Kansas City has its first lead.
The Chiefs went 93 yards on 16 plays in 8:37 to start the second half, scoring when Clyde Edwards-Helaire took a handoff around the end for a 14-yard touchdown. That was the drive’s longest play, as Kansas City other surgically cut up the Las Vegas defense.
Despite now being down, giving up a total of seven points over the last three Chiefs’ drives isn’t a bad result. The Raiders’ offense now has to do its part as it punted after one first down the last time it was on the field.
Raiders lead 17-14 at halftime
An interception by Trayvon Mullen with 25 seconds remaining kept the Chiefs from adding to the scoreboard before halftime.
Mullen picked off a pass intended for Demarcus Robinson at the 3-yard line. That made a 35-yard field goal from Daniel Carlson earlier in the second quarter the difference in the game.
Scoring slowed down after both teams found the end zone on each of their first two possessions. Carlson’s field goal provided the only points in the final four first-half possessions between the two teams.
Chiefs tie the game at 14-14 with 11:15 to go in second quarter
Sunday Night Football is nearly 20 minutes into the game, and there’s yet to be a defensive stop — or even a field-goal attempt.
Both teams have a rushing and passing touchdown, with the Chiefs having now paired an early scoring reception from Tyreek Hill with a 3-yard run by Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Kansas City’s latest scoring drive went 73 yards in seven plays, greatly aided by a questionable pass interference call on Damon Arnette near the end zone.
That flag, drawn by tight end Travis Kelce, got the ball to the 3 and Edwards-Helaire scored two plays later.
Raiders lead 14-7 at end of first quarter
The Raiders’ offense has run crisply and gone 2-for-2 in drives ending with touchdowns in the first quarter.
Like its first possession, Las Vegas scored in six plays on its second. Unlike the first, Carr got on the board with a touchdown pass.
He hit Nelson Agholor in the back of the end zone for a 17-yard score. Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow and Alec Ingold all also had catches on the drive.
Stay tuned to see if either defense can ever get a stop.
Chiefs tie the game at 7-7 with 4:01 to go in the first quarter
The Chiefs’ initial possession was more methodical than the Raiders’ but the result was the same.
Kansas City matched Las Vegas’ touchdown when Tyreek Hill scored on a 3-yard touchdown from Patrick Mahomes. The score capped a 14-play, 85-yard drive that lasted 7:24 — double of Las Vegas quick-strike first score.
For the second time this year, the AFC West rivals may partake in a shootout.
Raiders lead 7-0 after first drive
The Raiders’ first drive couldn’t have gone any better.
The home team went 75 yards on 6 plays in less than four minutes to find the end zone. Josh Jacobs ran in the score from two yards out with Darren Waller and Nelson Agholor each having catches of more than 25 yards to get down the field so quickly.
Breaking down the Raiders’ inactives
All seven of the surprise midweek additions to the Raiders’ COVID-19 list will be eligible to play tonight against the Chiefs. The two players added on Monday, defensive end Clelin Ferrell and nickelback Lamarcus Joyner, will not.
It’s far from the worst-case scenario, as Ferrell and Joyner were expected out anyway, but replacing their productions won’t be easy. Joyner was having somewhat of a bounce-back year while backup Amik Robertson, now thrust into a more prominent role, has struggled in his rookie campaign.
Ferrell was a big part of the win over the Chiefs earlier this year with pressure on Patrick Mahomes, pressure Arden Key and Carl Nassib must now try to bring.
Sam Young was the only presumed starter on the inactive list for injury as knee and back issues will hold him out of the Chiefs’ rematch, meaning Brandon Parker is likely at right tackle. Kolton Miller will return at left tackle after missing the last two games with an ankle injury.
• Who: Chiefs at Raiders
• When: 5:20 p.m.
• Where: Allegiant Stadium
• TV: KSNV Channel 3
• Radio: Raider Nation Radio 920 AM, KOMP 92.3
• Betting line: Chiefs -8, over/under 57
For better or for worse, the Raiders have the Chiefs’ attention. As is often the case with the defending Super Bowl champion, Kansas City has been accused of overlooking some opponents or not focusing fully in certain games coming off of winning the Lombardi Trophy. That won’t be an issue in the team’s first trip to Las Vegas. The Chiefs spent the week smarting over a perceived slight by the Raiders after the latter’s 40-32 victory in Kansas City earlier this year. The Raiders’ team buses reportedly circled the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot, which the Chiefs are considering a victory lap. Raiders coach Jon Gruden said it was an overblown misunderstanding, and the extra drive time was a not an unsportsmanlike gesture toward the Chiefs but rather an attempt to annoy a “smart-aleck bus driver.” This game may not have needed any extra juice considering it will have a major impact in determining the AFC West division champion, but the bus-route disagreement has provided it anyway.
Favorable matchup: Raiders’ rushing attack vs. Chiefs’ rushing defense
The Raiders gouged the Broncos on the ground in last week’s 37-12 victory with more than 200 total rushing yards and an average of 5 yards per carry. As long as it can keep Kansas City from building too big of an early lead, Las Vegas should have a great chance to make it back-to-back weeks of rushing success behind running backs Josh Jacobs and Devontae Booker. For the third straight year, rush defense is Kansas City’s biggest weakness. The Chiefs are giving up 4.8 yards per carry, tied for fourth worst in the NFL. Their offense scores so prolifically that it often doesn’t matter as opponents fall into big deficits and are forced into throwing more heavily as a means of playing catch-up. It even happened to the Raiders to an extent in the first meeting this season after they went down 21-10 in the second quarter. Las Vegas made it work but, in the rematch, would prefer to shorten the game and let Jacobs and Booker keep the clock moving.
Problematic matchup: Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce vs. Raiders’ pass defense
THEY SAID IT
• “A lot of people care about this game like it is their Super Bowl. … That’s how they acted by doing two laps around the stadium when they won it.” — Kelce on the Raiders’ victory lap controversy while interviewed on ESPN
• “I’ve heard people say crazier things about me than driving a bus around the stadium, and you still show up and play the game. So, if they want to get excited about it, awesome.” — Quarterback Derek Carr on the controversy
• “I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.” — Gruden, feigning laughter when asked about the Chiefs getting a bye week before playing the Raiders for the fourth time in five years
• “That’s a cool little slogan but I feel like it’s a little undeserving at times because of how well our offense plays, not just me.” — Renfrow on the Raiders’ “third-and-Renfrow” catchphrase born out of his success in converting first downs
Kansas City has too many weapons to stop. Opponents must instead decide who to key in on and deny from beating them. If the Raiders’ public comments are to be believed this week, they’ve decided Kelce is the most important to slow. Based on series history, it makes sense. The ninth-year tight end has tormented the Raiders, gaining 953 yards and scoring six touchdowns in 13 career games. Most of that damage has come since Patrick Mahomes took over at quarterback. In five games against the Raiders with Mahomes, Kelce is averaging 107 receiving yards per game while catching 70 percent of his targets. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Kelce is a matchup nightmare for most teams but was especially lethal against a weak Raiders’ linebacking corps the last couple years. Las Vegas has gotten better linebacker play this year but may have to get creative in how to cover Kelce with Cory Littleton expected to miss his second straight game after testing positive for coronavirus.
Gamebreaker: Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow
The second-year slot receiver out of Clemson is the Raiders’ highest-graded pass-catching option by Pro Football Focus. He does have some hidden advantages that help in systems like PFF’s grading, namely a relatively small workload — he’s only played 48 percent of the offensive snaps on the season — and the fact that opponents aren’t tailoring game plans to stop him specifically. But there’s no denying Renfrow is a consistent difference-maker when he’s on the field as he showed in a number of ways against the Broncos. His crisp route-running allowed him to haul in a pair of catches in tight windows. His vision and quickness resulted in two long punt returns, including one for a touchdown, even though they were both called back for penalties. One of his biggest plays of the season came in the first game against the Chiefs, when he cut through the defense for a 42-yard reception. Kansas City can’t lose track of Renfrow or else he’ll make them pay.
Big Number: 6
Kansas City’s remaining strength-of-schedule ranking, according to Football Outsiders. That becomes extremely important if the Raiders can sweep the season series with the Chiefs for the first time since 2012. Las Vegas would still be a game behind Kansas City in the AFC West standings, but it would own the tiebreaker. And, looking at the opponents of both teams over the final six weeks of the season, the tiebreaker has a stronger chance of coming into play than some may expect. Las Vegas’ strength-of-schedule rating, by contrast, is 25th as the hardest part of its slate has now passed. The Raiders were as high as a 12-to-1 underdog to win the AFC West coming into the season, but if they beat the Chiefs again, they have a realistic shot to pull it off.
Best Bet: Josh Jacobs over 14.5 receiving yards
The Chiefs’ problems against running backs aren’t exclusive to rushing; they also struggle to slow them in the passing game. Kansas City rates 30th in the NFL in defending running backs as receivers per Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings. The matchup should present an opportunity for Jacobs to re-immerse himself in the passing game. The second-year running back out of Alabama spent the offseason trying to improve his receiving ability, studying tape of Raiders’ receivers and practicing his route-running. So far, he doesn’t have the results to show for it even though he started to get back on track against the Broncos with four catches for 24 yards. Jacobs should continue in the right direction against a Chiefs team that has allowed checkdown options to roam free all season.