The Kansas City Chiefs wrapped up the regular season with a victory on Saturday, defeating the Las Vegas Raiders, 31-13, to finish the campaign with a 14-3 record. Kansas City raced out to a 24-3 lead prior to halftime and never looked back, quickly building a double-digit advantage early in the second quarter that stood for the remainder of the game.
Overall, it was simply a tremendous conclusion to one of the winningest seasons in franchise history.
"Every week, they got a little bit better," said Head Coach Andy Reid. "My hat goes off to the coaches. The coaches worked hard, and the players worked hard. Good things have happened to this point. We still have some games left here, so we need to take care of business on that."
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed 18-of-26 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown on Saturday, flipping a 2-yard score to tailback Jerick McKinnon on the Chiefs' opening series. It was McKinnon's sixth-straight game with a receiving touchdown and his 10th overall score on the season.
The Raiders then responded with a field goal on their initial drive that narrowed the deficit to just four points, but that was the closest the margin would ever be. In fact, the Chiefs' defense didn't surrender another point until the closing minutes of the third quarter.
That stout defensive performance included an interception by safety Juan Thornhill on the Raiders' second possession, providing Kansas City with a short field that it didn't waste. The Chiefs covered 44 yards in just three plays, culminating in a 2-yard touchdown plunge by tailback Ronald Jones.
Jones' touchdown – which marked his first of the season – pushed the Chiefs' lead to 11 points, and while Las Vegas managed to drive all the way to Kansas City's 2-yard line a possession later, the Chiefs' defense held on fourth down to hold the Raiders scoreless. Mahomes then made the Raiders pay for their fourth-down gamble, engineering a 12-play, 98-yard series that ended with an 11-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Kadarius Toney.
The score marked Toney's third touchdown since joining the Chiefs mid-season.
"We knew he was talented, but for him to get accustomed to the offense as fast [as he has], and [for him] to be able to be out there for multiple plays now…He's doing the right things," Mahomes said of Toney. "It just adds another dimension. He's a special type of talent."
The Chiefs emerged from that sequence with a 21-3 advantage, and they weren't done. Las Vegas began its next series with just 47 seconds remaining in the first half, and while trying to push the ball downfield, Raiders' quarterback Jarrett Stidham was strip-sacked by defensive end Mike Danna deep in Raiders' territory. Fellow defensive end George Karlaftis then scooped up the fumble, setting up a 44-yard field goal by Harrison Butker as time expired in the period.
In total, Kansas City managed to rack up nearly 250 yards of offense and score on four of its five possessions in the first half while holding Las Vegas to just three points. That collective effort – which featured strong performances by all three phases – provided the Chiefs with a comfortable advantage heading into the break that essentially put the game out of reach. Tailback Isiah Pacheco added another touchdown – his fifth of the season – early in the fourth quarter that cemented that reality.
The game marked a strong conclusion to the regular season for Mahomes, who finished the campaign with an NFL single-season record 5,614 yards of total offense. His 5,250 passing yards are the fourth-most in a single season in league history, and his 41 passing touchdowns are the second-most of his career.
Mahomes' impressive outing was complimented by a terrific showing by the defense that included six sacks. Defensive lineman Chris Jones was responsible for 2.5 of those sacks, matching a career-best with 15.5 on the season. Defensive end George Karlaftis also added a half sack, marking the sixth time in his last seven games that he brought down the opposing quarterback.
Additionally, linebacker Nick Bolton – who tallied 16 total tackles in the game – finished the year with the most total tackles (180) in a single season in franchise history, passing the mark set by Derrick Johnson set in 2011.
Kansas City was also excellent on special teams during Saturday's game. Butker was a perfect 5-for-5 on his kick attempts (1 field goal, 4 extra points) while punter Tommy Townsend ended his best regular season as a professional with an exclamation point, dropping three kicks inside the Raiders' 20-yard line.
That three-phase effort helped the Chiefs win their 14th game of the season and complete a clean sweep of the AFC West, moving Kansas City to 26-4 against divisional opponents since 2018. Specifically, Mahomes is now 16-0 in road contests against AFC West opponents in his career.
"That was something that was instilled in me right when I got here. We were going to focus on AFC West opponents," Mahomes said. "We know if we can handle business in the AFC West, it's going to put us in the position to be where we want to be at the end of the year. Like I've said a lot, our first goal is to win the AFC West."
The victory locked up the top overall seed in the AFC playoff picture and a first-round bye for Kansas City, meaning that the Chiefs will host the lowest remaining seed in the AFC postseason field for a Divisional Round matchup in two weeks.
"You still have to take care of business, and our guys understand that. We'll give them a few days off there next week, and then get them back in towards the end of the week and get some practice in there," Reid said. "Then we'll start the regular week after that, but [they'll] take a step back, and get [themselves] where [they] feel stronger and healthier – mentally and physically. It's a good thing."
In terms of injuries, defensive end Frank Clark (groin strain) was the only player that Coach Reid mentioned following the game.
"He has a groin strain, so we'll see how he does here," Reid said. "He's got a little bit of time here, which is a good thing to recover."
The Chiefs will now rest up and enjoy both the final Sunday of regular-season action and the Wild Card Round before kicking off the playoffs in a few weeks.