Intrepid soul that I am, I got out into the cold yesterday. Must have looked like Nanook of the North. I dressed the part. I had to battle the frigid weather. After all, I had to pick up supplies for the Chiefs-Raiders game — sodie pop and such.
As I was coming out of the store, this young guy wearing a Chiefs jersey popped out of a red pick-up truck. And I had to ask. “Are you really going to the game?” He smiled broadly and shot back, “Of course.”
Oh yeah, of course. The temperature was going to be in the teens, for crying out loud. Enjoy, young person, enjoy. I choose to take my supplies home, settle into the recliner and watch all on TV — near a libation and a blanket.
Oh, the guy knew this was a big-time game. The city felt the love. The dreaded 10-2 Oakland Raiders were in town and Chiefs fans wanted to skewer them like a shish kabob searing at a $40 parking space at Arrowhead Stadium.
Well, it didn’t exactly turn out that way, but the Chiefs managed to whip the Raiders 21-13 before a cold but boisterous crowd that stayed to cheer to the very end. How super is that! And how about the Chiefs taking over the No. 1 spot in the AFC West with a 10-3 record to tie the Raiders — and they’re tops because they have beaten the Raiders twice this season.
The Chiefs played the first 24½ minutes so superbly. Productive offense and solid defense. They led 21-3. The Raiders had the ball deep in their territory and quarterback Derek Carr scrambled to his left and was stopped. So was Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson. Untouched, he crumpled to the ground. That darn Achilles bugaboo that had given him trouble before — he was lost to the game and probably more time than that.
After his departure, the Chiefs struggled.
Chiefs Coach Andy Reid told reporters after the game, “I felt a little bit of a letdown when it happened. But the last thing D.J. would have wanted was a letdown.”
The Raiders suddenly came alive and took off on a drive that resulted in a TD with 14 seconds left in the half. That made it 21-10. And for much of the second half, the outcome looked dicey.
Carr, playing with an injury to his throwing hand pinkie. was struggling, too. His passing averaged just 2.9 yards, completing just 17 of 41 attempts for 117 yards.
The Raiders had just 244 yards of offense. Hail to the defense — good play from many. And a little help from the Raiders.
They started twice early in the second half deep in Kansas City territory when Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith threw an interception and then fumbled the ball. However, the Raiders could add only three points to their total with the two turnovers. A mishandled snap cost them a field goal after the second turnover.
The second half was just crazy. The Chiefs seldom got the good side of an official’s call, but they also had good fortune with Carr’s errant passing. A couple of clutch efforts late in the game gave the Chiefs safe passage to the top.
The first effort came after the Raiders converted on a fourth down. They were fourth and short at the KC 14 at 2:06. Whoops. Illegal procedure. Oh did that help. Carr then attempted to hit Seth Rogers on the sideline but Terrance Mitchell was there to swat it away. Carr targeted Rogers nine times but he could catch only two of them for 12 yards.
Wait. Not over yet. The Chiefs ran twice after taking over on downs at 1:56. Third and 2 at the KC 27. Spencer Ware banged into the line and barely made the first down. And the Chiefs ran out the clock. Victory.
Man, it would have been fun just to gloat and boast over the first 24½ minutes. Smith was super, amassing 202 yards passing in that time. Tight end Travis Kelce was catching everything — he wound up with 103 yards, topping a hundred for the fourth straight week. And then there was Tyreek Hill.
His night started with a fumbled punt. Ah, uh, er, trash that thought because the rest of the half was up-tempo. Really up-tempo. He may be the fastest player in the NFL; he makes a blur seem slow. He left the Raiders grasping for air, literally. He was all over the place.
You want speed. He scored on a 36-yard pass play, he ran a punt back 78 yards for a score and he wound up with 66 yards of receptions. You need to grill Reid to find out why he wasn’t targeted more in the second half. Or maybe Smith just couldn’t get him the ball.
After all, Smith wound up with just 62 yards passing in the second half.
The Chiefs had trouble running the football with Ware rushing 20 times for just 66 yards. Charcandrick West had a rushing TD from three yards out but he carried only one other time for a yard.
Latavius Murray could run the ball for the Raiders; he had 103 yards on 22 carries.
With a sea of red in the stadium, I couldn’t pick out the young man from the red pickup truck. Well, I couldn’t. Wonder if he was part of the tailgate crowd. Oh, they flocked to the parking lot. Hey, so what if it was a weeknight game. This was for first place in the West Division and it was a biggie on national TV. Everyone, including the announcers, treated this with show biz enthusiasm.
The Chiefs opened the gates to the parking lots at noon, more than seven hours before kickoff. And the fans responded.
The team responded, too. After two straight victories on the road, the Chiefs came home and they beat Oakland for the seventh time in their last eight games. The Chiefs will host Tennessee December 18 at Arrowhead.