The Kansas City Chiefs fought back from an early deficit to defeat the Las Vegas Raiders, 31-17, for their eighth victory of the season on Sunday afternoon.
In fact, Kansas City had just 13 yards of offense to its name when Las Vegas pulled ahead by 14 points early in the second quarter, but despite the slow start, the Chiefs managed to outscore the Raiders by a mark of 31-3 the rest of the way.
"We went down 14 points, and it's a tough thing to come back from that," said Head Coach Andy Reid. "Our guys battled back, and I'm proud of them for that."
The tide began to turn when the Chiefs – who ran just seven plays on their first two drives – recorded a 12-play, 71-yard scoring series on their third possession that ended with a 1-yard touchdown plunge by tailback Isiah Pacheco. The drive halved the Raiders' lead while providing Kansas City with a jolt that set the tone for the rest of the game.
"It was big for us to get that first touchdown drive," said quarterback Patrick Mahomes. "It kind of got the momentum back in our favor."
The Chiefs' defense then forced a quick punt on the Raiders' next series, and eight plays later, Mahomes had Kansas City back in the end zone with a game-tying, 3-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Justin Watson.
In total, Mahomes completed 9-of-12 passes for 124 yards and a score on the Chiefs' two scoring drives following the early deficit, and he wasn't done. The reigning league MVP led yet another scoring series on the Chiefs' opening possession of the third quarter, finding four different receivers for completions before Pacheco punched in his second touchdown run of the day.
It marked the first multi-score game of Pacheco's young career, and after trailing by double-digits for much of the first half, the touchdown pushed Kansas City in front for the first time all day.
"It's all heart at the end of the day," Mahomes said. "In the second half, it [comes down] to who wants it more. You can have play designs, but for the most part, you're off your script…You have to go out there and just want it. I thought the guys did a great job of that today. Even when it wasn't pretty, they made stuff happen."
One of the players who clearly demonstrated that determined spirit on Sunday was rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice, who hauled in a 19-yard reception that helped set up Pacheco's go-ahead touchdown run. It was part of a big day for Rice, who caught eight passes for 107 yards and a score in the game.
"He's a smart kid, and he works tremendously hard at his profession," Reid said. "He has the trust of the quarterback."
Mahomes certainly showed trust in Rice early in the fourth quarter when he targeted the rookie on third down just across midfield, and Rice didn't disappoint. The rookie pass-catcher turned the corner and broke free for a 39-yard touchdown, effectively putting the game away.
"I was running across the field, and I realized that it was a man-to-man defense," Rice said. "My objective was to get to the other side of the field and [cross] right in front of Patrick's vision so that he could see me. He put it exactly where it needed to be for me to run that 200-meter dash, and at the end, [wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling] made a great block so that I could get in for the touchdown."
Rice's touchdown served as the metaphorical "knockout blow" that Kansas City had struggled to land in recent weeks, and while the offense continued to put points on the board, the Chiefs' defense settled down to post another strong outing. Specifically, Kansas City held Las Vegas to only 137 yards of offense following its first three drives, paving the way for the Chiefs' comeback.
It all helped Kansas City move to 8-3 on the season, moving within a half-game of the Baltimore Ravens for the top spot in the AFC standings. The Chiefs also improved to 3-1 vs. divisional opponents as Kansas City seeks its eighth-straight AFC West crown.
"We still have things to learn from this game. There were certain situations where we didn't execute at a high enough level, but we obviously took a step in a positive direction [today]," Mahomes said. "Now, let's just continue to do that throughout the rest of the season."
In terms of injuries, Coach Reid mentioned wide receiver Skyy Moore (tweaked left knee), left tackle Donovan Smith (stinger) and offensive guard Trey Smith (foot), although Reid mentioned that all three players "should be OK."
The Chiefs will now turn the page to a prime-time matchup against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field this upcoming Sunday.