Carson Palmer knew that Darrius Heyward-Bey, perhaps the Oakland Raiders’ fastest wide receiver, could beat the Kansas City Chiefs defense if he went deep down the field.
The Raiders just had to wait for the right moment.
It came on the first play of overtime.
Heyward-Bey beat safety Kendrick Lewis down the left side and Palmer hit him for a 53-yard gain, setting up Sebastian Janikowski’s 36-yard field goal 2:13 into overtime Saturday for a 16-13 win that kept the Raiders’ playoff hopes alive and eliminated Kansas City from contention.
”It was the right time to call it,” Palmer said. ”I wanted it earlier, but we saved it for the right time. The protection was flawless and the route was great.”
It was just about the only thing that was flawless.
The Raiders committed 15 penalties for 92 yards, one of them – a delay of game – wiping out an audacious fake field goal that would have gone for a 36-yard touchdown pass. Palmer also threw a pair of interceptions and the Raiders converted only 3 of 11 third-down opportunities.
”An ugly win is better than a pretty loss,” Palmer said.
Especially given the stakes.
Oakland (8-7) can win the AFC West by beating San Diego next week and getting some help from — of all teams — the Chiefs, who travel to Denver for a game that’s become meaningless to them.
”The man told me, ‘Hue, we’ll win it in the end.’ I believe that,” said Raiders coach Hue Jackson, reflecting on a conversation he had with Al Davis before the Raiders owner died in October. ”I don’t know how it’s going to happen. I don’t care how it’s going to happen.”
Oakland led 13-6 late in the fourth quarter when Kyle Orton connected with Dexter McCluster for a 49-yard gain, setting up a short TD toss to Dwayne Bowe with 1:02 remaining in regulation.
The Raiders went three-and-out in short order, giving Kansas City the ball back with only enough time to get into field-goal range. Orton hit Bowe for 25 yards and Terrance Copper for 11 more to set up Ryan Succop, whose 49-yard try was blocked as time ran out.
It was the second field goal that Succop had blocked.
”We had an opportunity to win the game. Those guys came up big,” Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali said. ”I mean, blocking two field goals — what’s the odds of blocking two field goals in a big game like this? More credit to those guys.”
The Raiders, who blew a 13-point lead in the final five minutes to Detroit last week, have won five straight games at Kansas City. Perhaps none was important as this one, with all four teams in the division beginning the day with a chance of squeaking into the playoffs.
The Chiefs (6-9) struggled to take advantage of drives one week after piling up a season-best 438 yards of offense in a 19-14 victory over previously unbeaten Green Bay. That was their first game with Orton under center and interim coach Romeo Crennel calling the shots from the sideline.
Orton threw a pair of interceptions against Oakland, one of them in the end zone in the second quarter and the other as the Chiefs were driving in the fourth quarter.
”I commend everybody for fighting hard and giving us a chance at the end,” Orton said.
The first half amounted to a cacophony of errors that ended in a 3-3 tie.
The Raiders, the most penalized team in the NFL and on pace to set a single-season record, were flagged 10 times for 57 yards, while the Chiefs were flagged eight times for 53 yards.
It wasn’t just the quantity of penalties, either. It was the quality.
Javier Arenas had an interception of Palmer wiped out by defensive holding in the first quarter, a turnover that would have given Kansas City prime field position.
The Raiders returned the favor on their next possession. Facing fourth-and-2 at the Chiefs 36, they pulled off fake field goal in which punter Shane Lechler, the holder on the play, threw a shovel pass to tight end Brandon Myers, and he ran untouched around end for the touchdown.
It was called back by a delay of game penalty, and Janikowski’s 58-yard try hit the crossbar.
Bowe dropped an easy touchdown catch on the Chiefs’ ensuing possession, and Orton was picked off by Matt Giordano in the end zone. Palmer gave it right back when Arenas intercepted him.
The Chiefs promptly wasted another scoring opportunity with a staggering string of penalties: intentional grounding, a delay of game and a false start, all in succession. Succop ultimately had his long field attempt blocked by Richard Seymour, his first miss since Sept. 25 at Buffalo.
It wound up being all the more important by the end of regulation.
”Our guys fought and they hung in there, went into overtime, and it took some guts to do that,” Crennel said. ”We had a couple of field goals blocked, we got a couple balls thrown over our head, we turned the ball over a couple times. In the NFL, it’s hard to win when you do those kinds of things.”
Notes: The Raiders have been penalized 155 times for 1,293 yards this season. Kansas City has the NFL record with 158 for 1,304, set in 1998. … Oakland played without RB Darren McFadden (mid-foot sprain) for the eighth straight game. Michael Bush ran 23 times for 70 yards in his place. … Chiefs S Jon McGraw (ankle) did not play. … Kansas City C Casey Wiegmann started his 174th consecutive game despite a minor calf injury. … Succop’s first field goal was his 22nd straight, matching Pete Stoyanovich’s franchise record.