Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) runs the football during an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. The Steelers defeated the Chiefs, 19-13. (Ryan Kang via AP)
By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer
OAKLAND — If I told fans of the Silver and Black if their beloved Raiders would be sitting at 2-4 after the first six weeks of the season, many of them would want to toss me in a garbage can and roll me down a hill.
Well, the Raiders are 2-4 and their 2017 NFL season is circling the drain in a major way.
With the Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) traveling to the Black Hole this week for the first of two meetings with Oakland this season on Thursday Night Football at 5:25 p.m. PT, the second game is Dec. 10 in Kansas City, this is a true must win game for the Silver and Black if they have any chance of saving their season.
Oakland is coming off a tough 17-16 loss at home to the visiting L.A. Chargers Sunday, their fourth-straight loss following a 2-0 start to the season. It was also the fourth-straight game that the Silver and Black was held under 20 points in a game.
After missing Oakland’s 30-17 loss at home in Week 5 to the Baltimore Ravens with a back injury, starting quarterback Derek Carr returned to action for the Silver and Black against the Chargers in Week 6, completing 21-of-30 passes for 171 yards with a touchdown but threw two interceptions. Carr threw a 23-yard touchdown to wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who led the team with six catches for 52 yards on 10 targets.
Running back Marshawn Lynch recorded 63 of Oakland’s 109 rushing yards on 13 carries. Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson took a handoff and blazed past the Chargers’ defense for a 47-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Defensively for Oakland, linebacker Bruce Irvin recorded his second sack of the season to go along with six tackles. Cornerback TJ Carrie led Oakland with eight tackles. Oakland allowed 343 yards of total offense to the Chargers, with most of the damage coming from running back Melvin Gordon.
Gordon was the Chargers’ offense, with a 150 total yards (83 rushing and 67 receiving) on 34 touches (25 rushes and nine catches) and two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving). Second-year tight end Hunter Henry gave the Raiders fits on Sunday, hauling in five catches for 90 yards.
With the addition of four-time All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman to the defense, the Raiders are hoping that the middle linebacker position will be stabilized for the rest of the year.
Bowman, a seven-year pro out of Penn State, requested his release from the San Francisco 49ers on Friday after losing playing time, signed a one-year deal worth $3 million on Monday.
Kansas City was the last team to lose a game this season after dropping a 19-13 contest to the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 6, giving the Steelers their third straight win over the Chiefs in the last two seasons, counting last year’s meeting in the playoffs.
Strangely, Sunday’s matchup between Pittsburgh and Kansas City was eerily similar to their playoff game in January, an 18-16 Steelers’ win on Kansas City’s home turf.
Chiefs starting quarterback Alex Smith completed just 19-of-34 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown, a 57-yard pass to wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas in the fourth quarter that pulled Kansas City within 12-10 with 6:13 left in the game.
Pittsburgh shut down the NFL’s hottest offense, limiting the Chiefs to 251 yards of total offense and holding the NFL’s top scoring offense per game (32.8) to just 13 points.
Smith leads the league in passer rating (119.2), second in touchdown passes (12) and is third in passing yards (1,637). Kansas City’s signal-caller has yet to throw an interception in 202 passes this season.
The Steelers also held the NFL’s top rusher, rookie running back Kareem Hunt, to just nine carries for 21 yards.
But Pittsburgh sliced up a very good Chiefs defense by racking up 439 yards of total offense. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 252 yards on 17-of-25 passes with a touchdown and one interception. Eight of Roethlisberger’s completions went to wide receiver Antonio Brown, who hauled in 155 yards and a 51-yard touchdown catch that put Pittsburgh up 19-10 in the fourth quarter.
Running back Le’Veon Bell found gaping holes in the Chiefs’ run defense, carrying the ball 32 times for 179 yards and a touchdown. Bell also rushed for 170 yards against Kansas City in the playoffs.
The Chiefs have great playmakers in cornerback and Oakland native, Marcus Peters and fellow cornerback Terrance Mitchell. Peters and Mitchell each have two interceptions this season for a Chiefs secondary that have five for the year, pacing 13th in the NFL.
Veteran linebacker Justin Houston leads Kansas City with 5.5 sacks, ranking seventh in the NFL.
Kansas City sits on top of the AFC West, while Oakland is sitting in the basement of the division. With a win for Kansas City, it could be the final nail in the coffin of the Raiders’ season as it will drop the team to 2-5 and put the season on life support.
But, win on Thursday night on primetime, and it could put the team back on course.
Kansas City has won the last five-straight games against Oakland, with the Raiders’ last victory over the Chiefs, coincidentally, on Nov. 20, 2014, which was a game on Thursday Night Football.
The 0-10 Raiders defeated the 7-3 Chiefs 24-20 in a rainy game in Oakland.
Thursday night’s game will conclude Oakland’s three-game homestand, with Oakland’s next game coming in Buffalo on Oct. 29.