The Las Vegas Raiders were a nice story, but they've been playing with house money. The Kansas City Chiefs, on the other hand, came into Sunday afternoon aiming for very real stakes and a repeat championship bid. In the end, the home team ran out of steam as the Chiefs made the requisite adjustments and came away with an important Week 12 win at Allegiant Stadium.
The Raiders have been a nice story at the midpoint of the NFL season by winning two of their first three games under Antonio Pierce's leadership. But an interim coach is an interim coach and any team that's already fired their head coach in a season isn't expected to go that much farther.
As for the Chiefs, they've been playing uninspired football lately on offense and the results have cost them in losses to both the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles. While it looked like it might happen again in Vegas, the Chiefs finally came to life after the first quarter concluded and came away with their 8th win of the year.
What We'll Likely Remember
The moment in the second quarter when everyone on the Chiefs woke up and remembered who they were. Patrick Mahomes remembered he could thread a needle to anyone. Travis Kelce recalled that he can dominate even when double-covered. Rashee Rice is accepting his role as a volume target receiver, and Isiah Pacheco finally looked like the same punishing back he's been all along.
In the course of two drives, the Chiefs tied up the game at 14-14 after the defense finally came alive to stop the Raiders' momentum after making the necessary adjustments. From there, the Chiefs would come out and claim the lead shortly after halftime and never let go.
What We'll Want to Forget
The entire first quarter. The Raiders came out swinging from the outset and owned the Chiefs in every way. Josh Jacobs moved the chains with ease. Davante Adams came up with big catches. Jakobi Meyers was making his presence felt. After their first three drives, the Raiders not only had two touchdowns but they could have easily had another if they'd not settled for a field goal from only 30 yards out (and somehow missed).
On the other side, the Chiefs were miserable. Their first play from scrimmage was a failed screen to Isiah Pacheco in which he was tackled for an 11-yard loss. The Chiefs were down 14-0 in the second quarter and looked like they might get swallowed up by another AFC West rival—that is, until they finally found their mojo and went on to tie the game before halftime.
Three Key Stats
1. Chiefs wide receiver Rashee Rice had 10 targets to lead the team on offense on Sunday. That was the sort of volume that fans wanted to see from him knowing how good he was while running after the catch. The Chiefs needed someone to step up and make their presence felt in that WR room and Rice finally had his breakout game. The end results: 8 catches for 107 yards and 1 touchdown.
2. Following the first quarter, the Raiders averaged a mere 19.6 yards per drive for the rest of the game (seven drives). By comparison, the Raiders were so dominant to start the game that they averaged 74 yards on their first three possessions. That's how good Steve Spagnuolo's defensive adjustments were (and the ensuing execution).
3. While it didn't help in the final score, the Raiders went without committing a single penalty for the first time in 18 seasons (since December 4, 2005).
Highlight of the Game
It's not a scoring play, but we loved the offensive confidence that was building in a critical second quarter for the Chiefs. That includes this play featuring a.... double reverse flea flicker?
Yeah, that's an early pitch to Isiah Pacheco and then a toss on a reverse to Richie James only to then see him flip the ball back to Mahomes who finds Kelce on a deep pass to get into the red zone. From there, the Chiefs would eventually score their second TD to tie the game at 14 apiece.
The Chiefs watched cornerback Trent McDuffie and offensive tackle Donovan Smith leave with short-term injury concerns but they both made their way back onto the field of play.
The Chiefs got the best of the Raiders by a final score of 31-17 to go to 4-0 at Allegiant Stadium all time.
What's Next for the Chiefs?
The Chiefs will remain on the road for the next week. After their game against the Raiders, they travel north to face the next team in the NFC North: the Green Bay Packers. The Chiefs are currently 2-1 against the division with the lone loss as a season-opening, single-point defeat against the Detroit Lions.