Chiefs turn their season around with win over Raiders
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Chiefs have spent seven weeks insisting that everybody in their beleaguered locker room was hanging together, even as their season was threatening to fall apart.
They showed on Sunday what they were talking about.
Their offense produced big plays for the second straight week. Kareem Hunt finally got going on the ground again. Their defense, which hardly sniffed the quarterback while the Chiefs lost six out of seven to fall into a tie atop the AFC West, dropped the Raiders’ Derek Carr three times. And special teams was nearly flawless with Harrison Butker knocking through four field goals.
Three phases, all working in tandem, to produce a crucial 26-15 victory over Oakland.
”One thing I thought, everybody rallied together and supported each other,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. ”Not that they haven’t before, but if something didn’t go quite right they were all in there.”
There were plenty of things that hadn’t been going right lately.
But on a sun-splashed December afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium, and against most odds, the Chiefs managed to turn them back around. They did it without suspended star cornerback Marcus Peters, injured center Mitch Morse and one of the hottest teams in the division on the opposite sideline.
Oakland had won two straight and three of four to forge a tie in the AFC West race.
”I mean, it was good to see everybody hitting on all cylinders. Everybody’s got their mojo back,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said. ”I feel like we’re rolling out there. I feel like we’re very confident. We just have to keep tuning it up and get it going for next week.”
The Chiefs (7-6) viewed their game against Oakland (6-7) as crucial to their playoff hopes.
Their game Saturday night against the Chargers is even more important now.
Meanwhile, the Raiders struggled against a team that they handled in October, especially on the offensive side. Derek Carr threw for 211 yards with a late touchdown and two picks, and Marshawn Lynch was held to 60 yards rushing – 49 of which came on two carries.
”We really wanted this one,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. ”It was not about want-to, it was not about preparation or energy or effort. It was about execution. We did not execute well enough today. They did. And we have to give them credit.”
ROOKIE ROLLING: Hunt’s performance gave him 1,046 yards rushing for the season, making him the second Chiefs rookie to top the 1,000-yard mark. Joe Delaney, whose career was cut tragically short when he drowned trying to save three kids in a Louisiana pond, accomplished the feat in 1981.
”No matter what my numbers are, it was important to get a big-time win and keep it going,” said Hunt, who also had three catches for 22 yards. ”Keep doing what we’re doing.”
SPEAKING OF RUNNING: The Raiders had allowed 100 yards rushing once in their past seven games, a big reason why they had turned their season around. But they were gashed for 165 yards by the Chiefs, including a 13-yard touchdown run by Charcandrick West that helped put things out of reach.
”We needed this,” Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin said. ”They started faster. We tried to rally at the end, but when you fall behind a team like that, it’s hard to come from behind.”
INJURY NOTES: Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper reinjured his left ankle, which had him questionable for the game. They also lost defensive end Clive Walford to a concussion and defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. to an ankle injury that kept him out the entire second half.
The Chiefs got through the game unscathed, though Morse was inactive because of a foot injury.
ANOTHER RECORD: Butker hit four field goals, including a 53-yarder, to give him 28 on the season. That broke the rookie record of 25 set by Ryan Succop in 2009 and matched by Cairo Santos two years ago. Butker also has three 50-yard makes, one shy of the franchise record.
PAGING PETERS: Reid said he expects Peters to return to practice Monday. The volatile young cornerback was barred from team’s facility last week, and subsequently lost a week’s worth of pay, after a series of embarrassing incidents. Terrance Mitchell mostly handled his duties against Oakland.
”Marcus will be back and he’ll be playing, doing his thing,” Reid said. ”That’s where we’re at. There was nothing different. There wasn’t any extra change of any of that. The guys know that if somebody is down, the next man steps in and goes.”
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