When the Kansas City Chiefs signed Jeremy Maclin this past offseason, the goal was to fortify the wide receiving corps while providing a viable No. 1 option for quarterback Alex Smith in the pass game.
Maclin has been that for Smith, and during the past two weeks, his production has been a major reason for Kansas City's offensive success.
"He's having a heck of a year," head coach Andy Reid said of Maclin after Kansas City's 34-20 win. "He does so many things; he can do it and do it well. Most of all, he has the quarterback's trust. [Alex Smith] and Jeremy have a good relationship. He's a competitor."
As the fourth quarter began on Sunday, the Raiders held a 20-14 lead, and it looked as though they were about to go up two scores and take control of the game.
That's when the game changed completely. Raiders QB Derek Carr threw interceptions on back-to-back possessions, first to linebacker Josh Mauga and then to cornerback Marcus Peters.
The Chiefs were able to take advantage of the short field both times with screens to Maclin that resulted in touchdowns.
"On both of my touchdowns today, I had two blockers in front of me and all of those guys did a phenomenal job," he said. "We moved guys around—sometimes it's [Travis] Kelce, sometimes it's DAT (De'anthony Thomas) and today it was me. It was really cool to see how that developed. We're hard to beat when we're on the same page."
Smith explained that as the Raiders tried to stop some of Kansas City's other weapons, that opened the door for Maclin to score.
"They would double a guy here, double a guy there," he said of the Raiders defense. "They try to take away your main targets and it was constantly changing. It felt like Kelce was getting some attention and really opened up some space with Jeremy to make some plays for us."
Sunday marked the eighth time Maclin has scored multiple touchdowns in a single game during his career. It was the first time it happened in 2015 despite exceeding 100 yards on three separate occasions earlier this season. He finished Sunday's game with 95 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns.
In an interview after the game, Maclin said that while he was happy with the scores, the fact that they led the Chiefs to victory in a tight AFC playoff race is what really mattered.
"It was huge," he said. "We needed [the win] in order to achieve what we wanted to achieve. It wasn't pretty. We turned the ball over twice, myself included. Penalties, myself included. So these are things we have to clean up.
"Defense came up big in the fourth quarter, offense moved the ball a little bit in the fourth quarter and we were able to get the win."
Last season, the Chiefs went to Oakland with a five-game win streak and lost on Thursday Night Football.
This year, thanks in big part to Maclin, they extended the streak to six.
"This isn't last year," Maclin said. "This is not the team that came here last year. We're on a mission.'"