By: Kevin Le
So close, yet so far for the Las Vegas Raiders, losing 35-31 to the Kansas City Chiefs in a classic shoot out. Both teams had their stars show up in this game, but the defending Super Bowl champions would prevail. Derek Carr stood toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes all night to give his team the lead late in the fourth. Mahomes an MVP front-runner, would find a wide-open Travis Kelce for a touchdown to grab the victory. There are no moral victories in the NFL, but the Raiders showed why they will be a playoff team.
Derek Carr’s connection to the Mamba
Before the season started, quarterback Derek Carr switched to wearing an arm sleeve in honor of the late Kobe Bryant. Carr knew it was a primetime game and like Kobe Bryant, he did not flinch in the game’s biggest moments. Trailing 28-24 late in the fourth quarter, Carr drove his team down the field to take the lead with under two minutes to play. Carr completed 23 out of 31 passes for 275 yards, three touchdowns, and a late interception. If it wasn’t for some key drops, the Raiders might’ve taken this win. Even with the Raiders losing, seeing Carr slinging it around gave flashes of his 2016 MVP campaign. Carr is heating up just in time for this team’s late push for a playoff birth, the first since 2016.
Defense On A Bye?
When this Raiders defense takes a step forward in progress they somehow manage to take two steps backward. Going against this Chiefs offense was not going to be easy, but the defense had to play well to win. Having some of the starters out during practice due to COVID-19 close contact tracing wasn’t helping those chances. To win this game, the defense had to get pressure on Patrick Mahomes, keep him in the pocket, and get off the field on third down situations. The Chiefs had 460- total yards, 36-first downs, ran 73 plays and had the ball 32:05 minutes to the Raiders 27:55. This is not the recipe for success, especially against an Andy Reid coached offense. The defense would get a chance to seal the win, but could not get to Mahomes in time as he throws the game-winning touchdown to Travis Kelce.
AFC West Runs Through Patrick Mahomes
The Raiders left 1:43 left in the game for Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes to drive the Chiefs to victory. It was more than enough time, as he found Travis Kelce wide open for the twenty-two-yard game-winning touchdown. The Chiefs would score in less than a minute and a half, giving them the close victory. Mahomes would scramble and back peddle all night to convert third downs which frustrated the Raiders defense. Keeping this crafty quarterback in the pocket is harder said than done. In Week 5 the Raiders got to Mahomes and contained him in the second half to win. It is now week 11 and this Chiefs offense seemed to be playing with more motivation than ever. Giving Mahomes the ball at any time is a risk in itself, which is why he is an MVP candidate. In his career, Patrick Mahomes record versus the Raiders is 5-1, the lone loss being in week 5.
Playoff Hopes still in reach
This 2020 Las Vegas Raiders team is not only a playoff contender but a sleeper Super Bowl contender. At 6-4, The Raiders are in control of their destiny and can go as far as Derek Carr takes them. As week 12 nears, the Raiders have one of the easiest remaining schedules left in the NFL. Currently standing as the seven seed in the AFC playoff race, the hardest games left are the Colts and Dolphins. Both games will be pivotal and three of the last four games of the regular season will be at home. Two of the remaining six teams on the schedule have a winning record, the rest are below the .500 mark. Even though this loss to the Chiefs may sting, the Raiders are in a perfect position for a playoff birth. Don’t worry Raider nation, as long as #4 is back there then this could be a special year.