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Chiefs leave Vegas with high-stakes victory over Raiders

The Chiefs pulled off a game-winning drive at the end of the 4th quarter on Sunday night to secure a much-needed 35-31 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes felt confident the Chiefs were capable of producing a game-winning drive and gave credit to his teammates after the game.

“I think we have a lot of players on this team, and guys stepped up and made plays in crucial times,” Mahomes said. “That’s a hell of a football team, but we had to show them why it runs through Kansas City when you talk about the AFC West.”

Heading into the game, there was irritation surrounding how the Raiders celebrated their 40-32 victory over the Chiefs back in week five. After the game, the Las Vegas’ team bus drove around Arrowhead Stadium several times in what was called a “victory lap.” Adding to their long-standing rivalry with the Raiders, that victory lap provided further motivation for the Chiefs heading into this Week 11 matchup. It didn’t help the Raiders’ odds that they were dealing with a COVID outbreak in their defensive personnel, and that Chiefs head coach Andy Reid had a bye week to prepare his vengeful gameplan.

Las Vegas’ first drive showed that their victory over the Chiefs earlier in the season was no fluke, and proved that future foes should take them seriously. The Raiders punched Kansas City right in the mouth with a six-play, 75-yard drive that concluded with a two-yard touchdown run from running back Josh Jacobs. 

Inevitably, Kansas City rebounded from Las Vegas’ first blow with a touchdown drive of their own. Mahomes locked on to Tyreek Hill, connecting for 37 yards on five catches, including a three-yard touchdown. 

Most teams would likely fold when the Chiefs’ electrifying offense responds with a scoring drive after conceding points.  However, the Raiders were not afraid, and that confidence was shown on Las Vegas’ second drive. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr utilized play-action passing on the drive and hit wideout Nelson Agholor in the back corner of the endzone just as time expired in the first quarter. Las Vegas opened the second quarter with a 14-7 lead over Kansas City.

Nonetheless, Mahomes and the Chiefs offense held up their part of the bargain in this potential barn burner. Mahomes found Demarcus Robinson and Travis Kelce for big gains on the drive before running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire punched in a three-yard touchdown run. Kansas City seemed to have solutions to all the puzzles the Raiders were throwing at them. 

Undaunted, the Raiders responded with a 35-yard field goal from Daniel Carlson, giving them a 17-14 lead with around four minutes remaining in the second quarter.

Each team failed to score on each of their next drives. Kansas City had an opportunity to flip the game on its head by scoring a touchdown to end the first half, before receiving the second-half kickoff. Mahomes continued to utilize the short-passing game and out routes to maneuver down the field. After carving up Las Vegas’ defense, with the ball sitting inside the Raiders’ red zone, it looked like the Chiefs would at least earn a field goal from the drive.  However, Mahomes dropped back and threw a costly interception on the goal line on a pass that was intended for Robinson. This was Mahomes second interception on the year and the first since week 5 against the Raiders. The Chiefs left points on the board and went into the half down 17-14.

Defensively, the Chiefs couldn’t generate any pass rush whatsoever and had no answers for the Raiders’ in the first half. To begin the second half, the Chiefs’ offense did what most teams do in order to slow down Kansas City’s offense — play keep away. In order to limit Las Vegas’ opportunities on offense, the Chiefs went on a drive that took up nine minutes of the third quarter. Kansas City ran 16 plays, eight runs and eight passes, and Edwards-Helaire capped off the drive with a 14-yard rushing touchdown. Edwards-Helaire was able to find the edge on the right side of the field thanks to the Chiefs offensive line creating a clear lane to the endzone. The Raiders, down 21-17, suddenly faced their first deficit of the game.

Las Vegas continued to slice up Kansas City’s defense with their prolific run game in Jacobs.  Jacobs ran for 28 yards on the next drive, and Carr once again exploited Kansas City’s commitment to stopping the run when he hit tight end Darren Waller on a three-yard touchdown pass. The Raiders re-took the lead just seconds into the fourth quarter and left the Chiefs down 28-24 with 15 minutes to play. On their next drive, The Chiefs weren’t able to respond and were forced to punt after a three-and-out. However, Kansas City’s defense then forced the Raiders to punt the ball back to the Chiefs’ offense after Carr missed Agholor on a vertical route down the field.  

Mahomes continued to spread the ball around to multiple receivers, finding both Hill and Travis Kelce open down the field for big gains. Kansas City looked to running back Le’Veon Bell to finish the drive with a touchdown. Bell found a lane on the left side for a six-yard touchdown, giving the Chiefs a 28-24 lead with around five minutes remaining in the game.

With an opportunity to finally make a stand and put the contest to bed, the Kansas City defense came up short again. Carr methodically led the Raiders on a four-minute drive that concluded with a touchdown pass to veteran tight end Jason Witten. The Raiders led 31-28, leaving the Chiefs with 1:43 and one timeout to either tie or win the game. For those who haven’t watched a Chiefs game with Mahomes in crunch time, 1:43 is an eternity for the quarterback to lead his team down the field.

Kansas City marched down the field with play after play resulting in gut-punching gains. The Raiders defense just couldn’t keep up. With less than a minute left in the game, Mahomes found Kelce wide open in the endzone for a 22-yard touchdown to take the lead 35-31. In a last-ditch effort to respond, Carr heaved an interception on the next drive to end the game.

Offensively, the Chiefs were spectacular, and they were the sole reason the team came out on top in this intensifying game. Mahomes completed 34 of 45 passes for 348 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Kelce and Hill were the recipients of 19 of those 34 completions from Mahomes. Kelce led the team with 127 yards and one touchdown on eight receptions. Hill caught 11 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. Edwards-Helaire came to life in this game with 69 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. 

Kansas City will face another tough matchup when they travel to Tampa Bay to take on Tom Brady and the Buccaneers on Nov. 29 at Raymond James Stadium.

laldpy@mail.umkc.edu

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