Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) has works with referee Carl Cheffers (51) and umpire Bill Schuster (129) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017. The Kansas City Chiefs won 26-15. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
With the chance to move into sole possession of first-place in the AFC West, the Raiders (6-7) didn’t put up much of a fight against their bitter rival the Kansas City Chiefs (7-6), losing at Arrowhead Stadium 26-15 Sunday afternoon.
The two teams came into the game tied atop of the division with identical 6-6 records, along with the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers, who host Washington Sunday, face the Chiefs in Kansas City next Saturday night.
The Raiders’ defense pressured Chiefs’ starting quarterback Alex Smith all day, sacking him four times, two by linebacker Bruce Irvin. Oakland also recorded just their second interception of the season by safety Karl Joseph, but the unit wore down as the Chiefs controlled the clock for 36:30 of the game. Kansas City racked up 408 yards of total offense, 268 of those yards thrown by Smith, who completed 20-of-34 passes on the day.
Chiefs’ starting running back Kareem Hunt rushed for 116 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown.
Oakland’s offensive unit mustered just 268 yards of total offense Sunday.
Kansas City jumped out to a 26-0 lead before Marshawn Lynch’s 22-yard touchdown run put the Raiders on the board with 8:51 to go in the game. Lynch finished the game with 61 yards on seven carries as the Raiders ran the ball just 11 times in the game.
Starting quarterback Derek Carr completed 24-of-41 passes for 211 yards one touchdown and two interceptions with a 60.1 passer rating for the game. Kansas City sacked Carr three times. In Carr’s last game against Kansas City on Oct. 19, he destroyed the Chiefs passing for 417 yards on 29-of-52 passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions and a 101.2 passer rating.
“It sucked,” Carr said via the Raiders’ official website. “It wasn’t good enough. And you put it all on me–don’t you blame one coach, one player.”
Oakland’s loss falls squarely on the offense, not just on Carr.
In the first half, Oakland had five possessions: four punts and one interception and were shutout through three quarters. The Raiders made just four first downs and were out-gained offensively by Kansas City, 362-110 yards through three quarters. The offense looked unfocused and lacked creativity against the NFL’s 30th-ranked defense in the Chiefs.
Tight end Jared Cook led Oakland with 75 yards on five receptions and a 29-yard touchdown catch down the middle of the field from Carr to trim Kansas City’s lead to 26-13 before Carr found wide receiver Michael Crabtree on a quick-slant route for a two-point conversion late in the game.
Crabtree finished with a team-leading seven receptions for 60 yards. To illustrate the Raiders’ struggles on offense Sunday, can be traced to a play in the third quarter.
On second down from his own 5-yard line, Carr launched a pass deep to Crabtree that fell short of the wide receiver. After diving for the football, Crabtree rolled over and remained seated with his shoulders slumped. It was a play that Carr and Crabtree connected on quite a few times last season.
“We had some opportunities we just didn’t connect on,” Carr said. “And that just can’t happen. There’s no easy way to go through this one. This one sucked.”
Wide receiver Amari Cooper, who missed Oakland’s 24-17 win over the New York Giants last Sunday with a left ankle injury, tried to give it a go Sunday, but didn’t look nowhere near healthy. Cooper re-aggravated the injury after being rolled up from behind on a downfield block for running back DeAndre Washington on a running play in the second quarter.
Cooper finished with zero receptions against Kansas City after posting career-highs in receptions in a game (11) and receiving yards (210) and two touchdowns against the Chiefs on Oct. 19.
This loss greatly hurts Oakland’s chances at making the AFC playoffs in back-to-back seasons. The Raiders finished 12-4 in 2016.
“We obviously came in with high hopes,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said after the game via the San Francisco Chronicle. “Everything we wanted to accomplish in our season was in front of us. It was a big day and a big moment. And we did not play well.”
Next Sunday, the Raiders host the visiting Dallas Cowboys at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on NBC’s Sunday Night Football in the team’s final home game of 2017. The Cowboys (7-6) kept their playoff chances in the NFC alive with a dominating win over the New York Giants, 30-10, at MetLife Stadium.
Cowboys’ starting quarterback Dak Prescott overwhelmed the Giants, passing for a career-high 332 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions on 20-of-30 passing.
Kickoff for the prime-time game is at 5:25 p.m. PT.