What happened in Week 5
Las Vegas dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball earlier this year. Patrick Mahomes had little time within the pocket to make plays, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the running backs had nowhere to go with immediate penetration and walls of defenders. It was also a game in which Mahomes was dropping too far back and leaving clean pockets. One of the issues along the offensive line was the loss of left guard Kelechi Osemele who suffered torn tendons in both knees early in the game.
Adding to the missing pieces on offense, Sammy Watkins left with a hamstring injury and would not return. Between missing the one lineman along the interior that was producing early this season, Mahomes also lost one of his best weapons over the middle to deal with the pressure in his face.
On the other side of the ball, the Raiders’ offensive line proved that it’s a top unit when healthy. Carr had all day to throw with little pressure from the Chiefs defensive line. Even when defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo brought blitz packages to generate pressure, Carr made him pay for it with big plays. Two of his three touchdowns passes in Week 5 were 59 yards or longer.
Kansas City’s defense was clearly not prepared for Carr to be more willing to push the ball down the field. During the first half, the Chiefs were looking to attack the short to intermediate routes. Considering that’s where Carr has proven over his career to want to target, it makes sense. Unfortunately, it hurt the Chiefs this Sunday.
Carr threw the ball 20 plus yards on seven of his attempts that afternoon. Two of those went for house calls, and another two for massive gains. He ended the day completing 22 of 31 passing attempts for 347 yards, three touchdowns, and a pick. It was so bad that when the Chiefs came out in the second half, Charvarius Ward was benched for Rashad Fenton. It was clearly Ward’s worst game in a Chiefs uniform. Anthony Hitchens missed several series in the game with a left-hand injury, leading to Ben Niemann seeing a larger role on the defense.
Las Vegas killed the Chiefs with big plays in the first half when the defense sent blitz packages at Carr and not expecting the big play attempts. In the second half, Spagnuolo adjusted to deeper safeties and lighter boxes to cover for the explosive weapons of Henry Ruggs II and Nelson Agholor.
While that held the Raiders to only 16 points in the second half, opposed to the 24 in the first half, the Raiders countered those light boxes by handing the ball off to Josh Jacobs. Kansas City limited the run game for the Raiders, but Carr was able to nickel and dime his way to score enough points to keep the Chiefs from taking the lead.