Raiders fumble their division topping hopes in loss at Kansas City
Latavius Murray was running the ball like his life depended on it.
It wasn’t enough, though, as the Raiders couldn’t gain enough momentum against the Chiefs to save their first seed in the AFC, losing 21-13.
A 36-yard touchdown between quarterback Alex Smith and receiver Tyreek Hill put the Chiefs ahead by four points, but the margin increased even more when running back Charcandrick West rummaged through defenders and fell into the end zone, putting Kansas City ahead by 11.
And Hill, the fastest man in the NFL, ran a punt back 78 yards, giving the Chiefs their final touchdown.
Murray was running as well as Hill, finishing with 103 yards on 22 carries, several of which went for more than five yards against a very stingy defense.
Quarterback Derek Carr couldn’t capitalize on several opportunities, which dug the Raiders into a corner. Most notably was a deep pass in the middle of the field to Amari Cooper, who stumbled and failed to corral the ball as it dropped a yard or two away from his feet.
If Cooper did catch the pass, Oakland might still have a firm grip on home field advantage, along with a guaranteed playoff berth, but that’s neither here nor there. What’s certain is that it was a very bad night for Oakland’s passing attack.
Carr was a forgettable 17-41 with only 117 yards — a 2.9 yards per attempt clip that will surely haunt him as the season goes on. The short week was undeniably an advantage for Kansas City, but more is expected from an MVP candidate who has managed six comeback wins this year.
The ramifications of these blown plays are wide, not just allowing Kansas City the top seed, but forcing the Raiders into a place that’s entirely uncomfortable. The Raiders had a chance to clinch a playoff berth.
They were so close, and in their element while playing from behind.
And once running back Spencer Ware rushed past the Kansas City offensive line for two yards, and the first down, Oakland was hurled into purgatory, where they’re no longer in control of their destiny and can still be a wild card team if they win their next three games.
Losing to the Chiefs in front of a national audience, especially the way they did, has to hurt.
They were dominated to the tune of 21 second quarter points for Kansas City, and couldn’t answer back. Head coach Jack Del Rio couldn’t rally his troops, and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, try as he might, couldn’t find a way to take control of the Raiders offense and add a few points to the score.
The Raiders defense did their part, though, allowing 14 points against an offense that has peppered them in the past, not including a special teams touchdown.
Del Rio said after the game that the Raiders didn’t play throw and catch like they usually do. Perhaps that’s the understatement of the century. When the Raiders were hottest, during the second half, they only managed three points.
They left three points on the board just after the fourth quarter started when Marquette King fumbled the hold as the Raiders were set to kick a field goal from the Chiefs 25 yard line, running right before being tackled well short of the first down marker.
The Raiders have their shot against two more division opponents who aren’t nearly as good as Kansas City, in the Chargers and Broncos, and will play their final home game against the Colts on Christmas Eve.
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Raiders football.