Take your pick of problems and the Kansas City Chiefs probably have them.
Instability at quarterback? Check. Turnover problems, lousy special teams, porous defense, struggling ground game? Check all of them off, too.
The result Sunday was a 26-16 loss to the Oakland Raiders, their fourth straight overall and the sixth in a row at Arrowhead Stadium against the Chiefs’ bitter AFC West rivals.
”It’s unfortunate because I think the guys put a lot into it during the week,” Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said. ”They practiced very hard during the week, they wanted very much to win it and we didn’t get it done. You just have to go forward and do the best you can.”
The Chiefs (1-6) won’t even have time to let this one sink in, either. They return Thursday night against San Diego, where they’ll try once again to take a lead in a game.
That’s something that hasn’t occurred once this season; their lone victory came on a game-winning field goal in overtime, making the Chiefs the first team since at least 1940 to go through their first seven games without a lead, according to STATS LLC.
”A loss is a loss,” said quarterback Matt Cassel, who threw for 218 yards and a touchdown after Brady Quinn left Sunday’s game in the first half with what the team called a ”head injury.”
Carson Palmer threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns for Oakland, which won on the road for the first time since beating the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium last December.
Sebastian Janikowski was perfect on four field-goal attempts, and the Raiders (3-4) nearly became the third straight team to keep the Kansas City offense out of the end zone. The Chiefs got their lone touchdown on Dexter McCluster’s catch with 2:27 left in the game.
Darren McFadden ran for 114 yards, and Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey had touchdown catches for Oakland, which has won two straight after losing four of its first five.
”I feel like it took us a while to get it going,” McFadden said, ”but once it finally got going, we finished the game out well.”
Meanwhile, the Chiefs committed four turnovers to run their league-leading total to 25, and their fourth-quarter touchdown was the first by the offense since Sept. 30 against San Diego.
Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs’ biggest offensive weapon, was a nonfactor. He carried only five times for 4 yards and caught three passes for 6 yards.
Altogether, it’s little wonder that two more banners appeared prior to the game, towed behind an airplane over Arrowhead Stadium. They were paid for by disgruntled Chiefs fans and renewed their plea from earlier this season that general manager Scott Pioli be fired.
”Everyone is tied together,” offensive tackle Eric Winston said.
The first play of the game pretty much summed up the confrontation between two of the league’s lousiest teams: Palmer threw into tight coverage and was intercepted by Stanford Routt.
Naturally, the Chiefs countered by going three-and-out and punting.
The Raiders finally got on the board when Palmer found Moore for a short completion that he turned into a 38-yard gain, and Janikowski connected from 36 yards for a 3-0 lead.
The field-goal struggle was on.
Janikowski hit from 38 yards early in the second quarter, and Ryan Succop matched him with a 30-yarder. Succop hit again from 42 yards late in the half to tie the game.
The Raiders took the lead into halftime when the Chiefs’ Javier Arenas fumbled a punt while attempting to make a fair catch. Jon Condo recovered it at the Kansas City 11, and Palmer hit Moore in the back of the end zone on third down to give Oakland a 13-6 lead with 49 seconds left.
”That was big,” Palmer said. ”That’s a good defense in the red zone.”
The game’s circuslike nature continued in the second half.
Cassel fumbled the snap on the first play of the third quarter and Tommy Kelly recovered it, but Oakland couldn’t manage anything in three plays and Janikowski kicked a 29-yarder.
Succop added a 52-yarder later in the quarter to get the Chiefs within a touchdown, but Oakland answered by going 80 yards in just six plays for another score. Palmer picked on Routt the whole way, and his 36-yard touchdown pass to Heyward-Bey gave the Raiders a 23-9 lead.
How bad were things going for Kansas City? Janikowski finally missed a field goal in the fourth quarter, only for Jalil Brown to be called offside on the play.
Janikowski knocked through the redo with 8:14 left to put the game away.
”We can bypass this and go on a winning streak, or we can just let go,” Chiefs running back Peyton Hillis said. ”But I’m not a quitter. Never have been. I’m going to try to get up.”
Notes: Chiefs RB Nate Eachus left the game with what the team called a ”head injury.” It’s unlikely he’ll be available for the Chargers. … McFadden had been held to 152 yards rushing in his past five games against Kansas City. … Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson made his 100th career start. … Palmer has passed for at least 200 yards in 13 straight games, extending a Raiders record.