Chiefs vs. Raiders: 10 Observations

Here are some things that stood out during Thursday’s game

The Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) won their ninth consecutive divisional game on Thursday night, as they beat the Oakland Raiders (10-3) by a score of 21-13 at a frigid Arrowhead Stadium.

With the victory, the Chiefs now hold the top spot in the AFC West.

Here are 10 observations from Sunday's game:

  1. The Chiefs defense shut down Raiders quarterback Derek Carr
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There's no doubting the kind of season Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was having leading up to Thursday's game against the Chiefs. Carr has had his struggles with the Chiefs recently—losing four straight and throwing six touchdowns to five interceptions in five career games (1-4).

Even so, he's considered a legitimate MVP candidate for the season he's had, which makes the Chiefs' defensive performance on Thursday against him that much more special.

Carr finished Thursday's game 17 of 41 for 117 yards, which makes him just the second quarterback since 1993 to throw the ball at least 40 times in a game and have less than 120 yards passing.

The 2.85 yards per attempt is also the lowest of Carr's career.

The Chiefs defense held the Raiders—the NFL's No. 3-ranked scoring offense—to just 13 points, and six of those points came off turnovers on drives in which the Raiders ran 11 plays for a total of 16 yards.

They were just given great field position after a couple of Chiefs turnovers.

The Chiefs came into Thursday's game as one of the league's best defenses inside of the red zone, allowing opposing offenses to score touchdowns on less than 50 percent of their drives that get inside the 20-yard line.

The Chiefs showed that strength again on Sunday, holding the Raiders out of the end zone on three of their four trips.

  1. Chiefs found another way to win
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Two weeks ago, against the Denver Broncos, the Chiefs were facing one of the league's elite defenses and would need to step up to face that challenge.

Last week, the Chiefs were facing the league's most explosive offense in the Atlanta Falcons, and they'd have to figure out a way to respond.

On Thursday, the Chiefs had to figure out a way to win a game in which they lost the turnover battle, 3-0, and they did that too.

The Chiefs have been a team that's been defined this season by their ability to capitalize on other teams' mistakes, and the Raiders didn't turn the ball over on Sunday, yet the Chiefs found a way to win the game.

  1. Alex Smith comes out on fire
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Through the first 30 minutes of the game, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith had completed 11 of 16 for 202 yards and a touchdown. He was throwing the ball all over the field with eight passing plays of at least 15 yards in the first half.

Smith finished the game 17 of 26 for 264 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Since coming to Kansas City before the 2013 season, Smith has had five games in which he's averaged more than 10 yards per passing attempt, and three of those games have been against the Raiders, including both matchups this year.

After Thursday's win, Smith is now 9-1 in his career against the Raiders.

  1. Veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson leaves early with injury
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It's what nobody wanted to ever see again on the field at Arrowhead Stadium, but with just under six minutes remaining in the first half, linebacker Derrick Johnson ruptured his Achilles tendon and left the game.

It was just two years ago in the Week 1 contest against the Tennessee Titans that Johnson had the same injury and missed the season.

As one of the leaders of this team, the Chiefs will have to find a way to push forward without him.

Before Johnson's injury, the Chiefs defense had held the Raiders to just 47 yards on 23 plays, and after he left, the Raiders picked up 198 yards on 50 plays.

  1. Fans chant "Tyreek," then he returns one for a touchdown

Through the first 13 games of his NFL career, rookie fifth-round pick Tyreek Hill has already established himself as one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL.

It feels like he's going to do something special every time he touches the football.

Hill finished Thursday's game with six catches for 66 yards, which included a beautiful 36-yard touchdown from Smith, who perfectly placed the ball to Hill on a post route against a Cover-4 look from the Raiders. Hill and Smith were in perfect tune on that play.

But the most memorable part of Hill's night came on a punt return in the second quarter, when the crowd at Arrowhead Stadium began a "Tyreek" chant after a penalty forced the Raiders to kick it to him again, and he made them pay.

It's hard to think about that moment and not get chills.

Hearing his name echo throughout the stadium on the NFL's biggest stage in a primetime game, Hill made a couple of moves and accelerated 78 yards for the touchdown—similar to what we saw the last time he played in primetime two weeks ago against the Denver Broncos.

Hill became the first player in the Super Bowl era to have a kick return, a punt return, a rushing and a receiving touchdown in the same season.

  1. Justin Houston and Rakeem Nunez-Roches combine for a sack on third down

Coming into Thursday's game, Carr had been sacked just 12 times all year, which ranked among the lowest in the league.

Midway through the first quarter, with the Chiefs trailing 3-0 and attempting to stop a Raiders third-and-5 at the 32-yard line, the Chiefs defense was tasked with making a play to try and keep one of the league's most potent offenses at bay, and it was a sign of things to come.

Linebacker Justin Houston and defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches combined for the sack of Carr, which was the first of four straight drives for the Raiders that resulted in a three-and-out.

  1. Smith finds Chris Conley on fantastic broken play

After a holding penalty forced the Chiefs into a first-and-20 from midfield early in the second quarter while holding a 7-3 lead, Smith was flushed out of the pocket to his right after some pressure up the middle collapsed the pocket.

As soon as Smith got near the line of scrimmage, he made sure he didn't get across it and kept his eyes down the field, which is where he found Chris Conley, who was standing near the sideline watching Smith roll out of the pocket and immediately broke off down the field.

It was a backyard play that resulted in a nice throw on the run from Smith and an even better contested catch and run after the catch from Conley, who raced 31 yards down the field for the huge chunk play of the offense, which needed it after the holding call put them in first-and-long.

  1. Charcandrick West rushes for the touchdown 

Just two plays after that Conley reception, running back Charcandrick West found the end zone for the first time this season.

West took the handoff off the left edge and sliced his way through the defense for the 3-yard score.

After he crossed the goal line, West showed his undershirt, which read, "Long live Joe," in remembrance of his friend and former Chief, Joe McKnight, who was recently killed in his home state of Louisiana.

"That's my brother," West said of McKnight after the game. "He was with me out there tonight, that's the reason I felt like I scored that touchdown. It was through him."

  1. Travis Kelce puts together another big-time performance

It seemed like anytime the Chiefs needed a big play offensively, Kelce came through for them.

For the fourth straight week, Kelce had at least 100 yards receiving, finishing with five receptions for 101 yards on Thursday night.

With that performance, Kelce is now tied for the franchise record with four straight 100-yards receiving games with future Hall of Fame tight end and former Chiefs great Tony Gonzalez.

Heading into Thursday's game, Kelce already led the NFL in receiving over the past three weeks with 21 receptions for 342 yards, and it's fair to think he might keep that crown for another week after another solid performance on Thursday.

  1. Chris Conley makes two big plays for the offense
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Chris Conley made two big plays for the offense on Sunday, and the 39-yarder he caught on third-and-10 on the Chiefs' first offensive drive was a wakeup call for everyone at Arrowhead Stadium.

Conley finished the game with two receptions for 70 yards. The first one came on a deep route down the right sideline and it came on a pass in which Smith may have overthrown him a bit, but Conley reached out and dove for the ball, snagging it before it hit the ground.

Later in the game, Conley picked up a 31-yard gain on a play in which he and Smith were perfectly in tune on what to do if the play broke down. Conley flashed deep and Smith hit him in stride.

Photos from the Chiefs Thursday Night Football matchup against the Raiders

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