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GAME OBSERVATIONS

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Beyond the Surface: 12 Observations from Chiefs vs. Raiders

The Kansas City Chiefs (10-2) picked up their AFC-best 10th win of the season on Sunday afternoon—beating the Oakland Raiders (2-10) by a score of 40-33.

It was the Chiefs’ 20th win in their last 21 attempts over an AFC West opponent, and it also gave them an all-time winning record against the Raiders at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum (O.co). They are now 29-28-1 at the historic venue. 

Here are 12 observations from the game:

Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on December 2, 2018.

1. Travis Kelce had a career-day

Kelce finished the day with 12 catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Both are career-bests.

It was also the fifth multi-touchdown game of his career.

On multiple occasions, Kelce showed everyone why he’s considered the best tight end in all of football. He made several contested catches across the middle in which he took a shot and was able to hold on to the ball, and he also made several difficult catches in which he had to extend and show some great hands to secure the reception.

Furthermore, on the Chiefs’ final drive before halftime, Kelce caught three passes for 39 yards, which helped him go over 1,000 yards receiving on the season.

With that, he became just the second tight end in NFL history to have three-straight seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving—joining the Panthers’ Greg Olsen as the only other player to ever do that.

The touchdown to cap off that drive was also Kelce’s ninth of the season, which is a new career-high for the All-Pro tight end in a single season.

2. Patrick Mahomes gave us a few more MVP-like moments on Sunday

Mahomes finished the game 23 of 38 for 295 yards and four touchdowns.

But it was the handful of plays he made in huge situations that illustrate was he’s considered one of the front-runners for the NFL’s MVP award this season.

On the Chiefs’ final drive of the game, which basically sealed the win, Mahomes not only forced the Raiders offsides by changing his cadence on a key third-and-5 with more than four minutes left in the game. The play ended up being an incomplete pass, but it was the penalty that extended the Chiefs’ drive.

Then, with just over two minutes left in the game on another key third-and-5 deep in Raiders’ territory, Mahomes floated one to Kelce on a pass from outside the pocket that resulted in a gain of 25 yards to the Raiders’ four-yard line.

It was an MVP-like play in a huge moment, and then he did it again on third-and-goal from the two-yard line—firing a dart to Chris Conley for a touchdown with less than a minute to go in the game.

It gave the Chiefs a two-possession lead at 40-33 and essentially sealed the win.

It was the Chiefs’ fifth game this season with scoring at least 40 points, which ties the franchise record. They have four more games to try and do it again to set the record.

3. The Chiefs’ defense forced three takeaways

The Chiefs’ defense, which had forced and recovered six fumbles in the first 11 games of the season, had three against the Raiders on Sunday.

Those three takeaways, which one came from each of the three Raiders’ running backs, led to 13 points for the Chiefs and proved to be a huge difference in the game.

4. Chiefs took an early lead with touchdown from Mahomes to Kelce

On the Chiefs’ second offensive possession—following an opening drive that ended with a fumble from Kelce on the first play from scrimmage—they responded with a quick drive that went 65 yards on two plays and culminated with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to Kelce.

The drive took less than a minute and also saw the Raiders commit two penalties which gave the Chiefs 29 yards.

It was a nice start for the Chiefs to take an early lead on the road against a divisional opponent.

5. Allen Bailey forced a fumble early

The Chiefs’ defense forced an early takeaway of the Raiders’ offense as veteran defensive lineman Allen Bailey, who is already having arguably the best season of his eight-year career, forced the fumble on a big hit of veteran Raiders’ running back Doug Martin.

The ball was recovered by Justin Houston and led to a Harrison Butker field goal, which gave the Chiefs an early 10-0 lead.

6. Dee Ford sets a career-high in sacks on Sunday

Late in the first quarter with the Chiefs already holding a 10-0 lead and with the Raiders facing a third down at midfield, Dee Ford kept coming on a play in which the defensive backs did a great job of covering down the field and allowed time for Ford to come from behind and sack Carr.

There also wasn’t much room for Carr to step up in the pocket as there was some good interior push from the defensive line. It was a great team effort as Ford gets the credit in the box score for a great play as well.

Ford was credited with a half-sack, which gave him 9.5 for the season at that time.

Then, early in the second half, Ford once again raced around the edge and got to Carr—forcing a fumble and picking up another sack.

That play gave him 10.5 sacks on the year, which is a new career-high.

7. Jarvis Jenkins also forced a turnover in a big moment

Chiefs’ veteran defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins picked a good time to have the first forced fumble of his career--making a huge play in the first half. He forced the fumble of Raiders’ running back DeAndre Washington.

The Raiders were within striking distance at the time—possessing the ball at the Chiefs’ 28-yard line, but Jenkins was able to get a good shot on Washington and the ball popped up and was recovered by rookie linebacker Dorian O’Daniel.

It was the second forced fumble by the Chiefs’ defense in the first half.

8. Patrick Mahomes made a ridiculous play on third down, again

With the Chiefs’ offense facing a third-and-long near midfield, Mahomes dropped back in the pocket and ultimately ended up escaping out to his left before firing a ball from an awkward position across his body to Kelce on the sideline for a first down. 

It was a play we’ve seen often from Mahomes, but also a perfect example of a play that not a lot of people can make, and one that he makes look very easy.

It’s a perfect display of athleticism, moxie, arm talent (and strength), and also some good awareness by Kelce to know that Mahomes isn’t afraid to fire in those situations.

A few plays later, Butker hit his second field goal of the day—a 50-yarder which gave the Chiefs a 13-0 lead with 7:02 left in the first half.

9. Chiefs get a late first-half touchdown thanks to a few great effort plays

With the Chiefs getting the ball back following a late first-half touchdown by the Raiders, which brought the game to within a possession at 13-7, the Chiefs had a chance to go down and score, but they had less than a minute on the clock.

And that’s perhaps one of the big differences for the offense this year as they didn’t seem to have much trouble going 82 yards on five plays in less than a minute to score a touchdown before halftime. 

Kelce had a huge catch across the middle to really get the drive going—a play in which he went up and extended his arms to make a catch across the middle in which he knew he was going to take a shot, but still made the catch anyways.

Then, a few plays later, Demarcus Robinson caught a pass on a bullet from Mahomes, and then because the Chiefs had no timeouts left and there was less than 15 seconds remaining in the half, Robinson out-raced several Raiders defenders across the field to get out of bounds to give the Chiefs a chance to score. 

If Robinson had been tackled, there’s a chance the Chiefs don’t get off another play.

Then, for the second time in the game, Mahomes hit Kelce for a touchdown, but this one resulted in a fantastic catch from Kelce, who had to extended out and catch the ball that was thrown low and away from him.

The touchdown gave the Chiefs a 19-7 lead going into halftime as the extra point was blocked by the Raiders.

Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on December 2, 2018.

10. Chiefs go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line

Midway through the third quarter, the Chiefs were facing a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line and decided to go for it.

On the play, Mahomes motioned out from behind center and the ball was snapped directly to running back Spencer Ware, who powered his way through a couple of would-be tacklers for a huge touchdown in a key moment.

The play gave the Chiefs a 26-10 lead early in the second half.

11. Rookie DL Derrick Nnadi shows off his strength on two-point conversion attempt

Late in the third quarter following a Raiders’ touchdown from tight end Jared Cook on a pass from Derek Carr, they decided to go for two. 

On the play, the Raiders attempted a run up the middle and it was an opportunity to show just how strong rookie defensive lineman Derrick Nnadi really is.

Nnadi fought off a block and then got his hand on the running back and was able to pull him backwards short of the goal line. It kept the game within two possessions at 26-16.

12. Kendall Fuller even got involved in the takeaway action

Late in the third quarter with the Chiefs’ holding a 26-16 lead, cornerback Kendall Fuller forced the fumble of Raiders’ running back Jalen Richard after a gain of 17 yards.

The ball was recovered by safety Daniel Sorensen.

It was the Chiefs’ third forced fumble of the day that they recovered, and it came at a great time. Richard was the third-different Raider to lose a ball on the day—joining DeAndre Washington and Doug Martin.

Just a few plays later, Mahomes found Kelce on a deep pass across the middle in which Kelce high-pointed the ball across the middle for a huge gain.

Then, to cap off the drive, Mahomes threw a touchdown pass to Demetrius Harris in which the window couldn’t have been smaller. He threw it away from the defensive back who was coming across to make a play on the ball. It was the only place he could have thrown that ball for a completion.

Basically, it was an MVP-type of throw on an MVP-like day for the young phenom quarterback.

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