The Oakland Raiders (5-4, 3-0 AFC West) came into their rivalry game with the Kansas City Chiefs (5-3, 1-1 AFC West) on a hot streak after defeating Denver and Seattle by a combined score of 92-17. A victory over the first-place Chiefs would put them just half a game behind the AFC West front-runner, and give them a 3-0 record in the division — a tie-breaker that head coach Tom Cable has said the team is focused on this season.
It didn’t start out well, but it’s all about how it ends.
The Raiders came from 10 points down, finished regulation by kicking a game-tying field goal, and finished the game with a game-winner from Sebastian Janikowski for a 23-20 overtime victory that will go down in history as one of the greatest games played in the storied rivalry.
The Raiders’ offense reverted back to the ineptitude of their 49ers loss three weeks ago and had no resemblance to the one that gained 1,053 yards over the last two weeks. At the end of the first half, the offense had accumulated just 49 total yards on offense — eight of which came in the second quarter — and were down by a 10-0 score in front of a sell-out crowd of 61,075 rabid fans.
It was the first sell out at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum since the Raiders’ 2009 opening Monday night loss to San Diego…and Raider Nation wasn’t happy with the first half performance by the home team.
“There was a couple of times they [the home crowd] were booing us, and rightfully so,” said defensive back Mike Mitchell after the game. “You know, we weren’t doing too hot.”
Mitchell’s comment may be an understatement. The Raiders couldn’t stop committing penalties in the first half. For the half, the Raiders committed eight fouls for 75 yards, but were fortunate that the Chiefs also committed six of their own for 55 yards. Where the Raiders were really fortunate, was the inability of the Chiefs to capitalize on some of the mental mistakes being made by the Silver and Black in the first half.
It was a typical Raiders-Chiefs rivalry game filled with tough defense, big plays, plenty of penalties, and the occasional shoving to go along with exchanging pleasantries.
The Raiders were the first to pull out trick plays by running the wildcat formation with Darren McFadden as the quarterback. The wildcat was used successfully for three runs and 22 yards, but when McFadden attempted a pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey, it was nearly intercepted in triple coverage.
The Chiefs would attempt a fake punt on fourth and six from the Raiders’ 46 by having the ball directly snapped to return man Javier Arenas — it failed. Not to be out done, on the Raiders next possession, the drive would end with an unsuccessful fake punt of their own — a direct snap to running back Rock Cartwright from their own 46. Raiders coach Tom Cable took full responsibility for calling the play.
“Bad call on my part,” Cable admitted at his post game press conference. “Really felt like we knew if we had a two-man side we could do it and if it was a seven-box we wanted to get out of it. I called it, it’s on me but we didn’t execute it so it’s on me.”
The great field position, (Raiders 47 yard line), helped the Chiefs get into the red zone quickly with a little help from officiating. Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel threw deep down the left sideline to Chris Chambers, but Raiders corner Chris Johnson had such good position on the ball, the pass nearly appeared to have been thrown to him. The official didn’t agree with that assessment and threw the flag for pass interference on Johnson — giving the Chiefs a 30-yard penalty and putting the ball on the Raiders’ 14.
Three plays later, Cassel threw a slant pass to tight end Tony Moeaki for a six-yard touchdown pass, or so it was ruled on the field. Replays showed that Moeaki’s knee touched the ground before he crossed the line, so Cable threw his first challenge flag of the day. After the play was reversed, the ball was put on the Raiders’ one. On the next play, Cassel would roll to his right and run it in for a score, but a holding call on Kansas City would put the ball back on the Raiders’ 11.
For Kansas City, the third time was a charm. With first and goal from the 11, Cassel lofted a pass to the left corner of the end zone to Verran Tucker, who caught it over Johnson for the touchdown. Again, the review showed that Tucker’s knee touched out of bounds before his right foot could touch in bounds. In some reviews, it also looked like Tucker’s right foot landed out of bounds, so Cable threw his second challenge flag of the game. The play stood, giving the Chiefs a six point lead and depleting the Raiders’ final challenge.
That challenge would come back to haunt the Raiders later, but not before the next series would.
On the Raiders’ next possession, left guard Robert Gallery was flagged for holding. The penalty put the ball on the Raiders’ own 17 with second down and 19 yards for the first. McFadden would get the call and after a gain of a few yards, linebacker Derrick Johnson forced a fumble the Chiefs would recover at the Oakland 26. The fumble would lead to a Ryan Succop 43-yard field goal and a quick 10-point lead.
The Chiefs could very well have added another 10 points before the end of the half. Succop had a 41-yard field goal called back for holding, turning the try into a 51 yard punt. The Chiefs also moved the ball to the Raiders’ eight with 38 seconds left in the half after a Jason Campbell pass was intercepted. On first and goal from the eight, Michael Huff came on a blitz and sacked Cassel for a six yard loss. The following play, Cassel’s pass was tipped by Mitchell and into the hands of rookie corner Jeremy Ware in the end zone.
“We were just in an all-out blitz. I seen the ball, you know, the tight end running up the seam,” said Mitchell about the play to end Kansas City’s scoring opportunity. “Just making a play on the ball. Tried to pick it, but one hand, it’s kind of tough. But Jeremy was right there, everyone stepping up making a play, hustling to the ball. His man’s running somewhere back of the end zone, he came off of him, hustled and made a play. And that’s our team.”
As the Raiders left for the locker room at halftime, the Raider Nation sounded off their frustration with boo’s. Cable wasn’t happy either. After the game, he described the first half offense as, “not very good,” and said he, “wasn’t very pleased,” with his special teams play.
That all began to change with the opening kickoff of the second half. Rookie receiver Jacoby Ford took the opening kickoff 94 yards for the Raiders’ first touchdown of the game. Suddenly, the game went from a possible blow out to a close divisional contest.
The touchdown revved up the Raiders so much that they were penalized for excessive celebration, forcing Sebastian Janikowski to kick from the Raiders’ 15. The Chiefs would end up starting their following drive from their own 37 and Cassel would lead Kansas City on an eight play, 56 yard drive that would end with a Succop 25 yard field goal. On the drive, the Raiders committed three penalties for 25 yards.
With the score 13-7 in favor of the Chiefs, the Raiders offense came to life. Campbell led Oakland on a seven play, 74 yard drive that ended with a two-yard touchdown pass to tackle eligible Khalif Barnes. Barnes, who a week ago got his first catch since high school against Seattle, caught the ball one yard into the end zone, looked up at the fans in the North end zone and raised both of his arms up in victory before the entire offensive team came over to congratulate him.
“It was slow motion because I was like, ‘Oh, I have it (the touchdown).’ And I said, ‘Oh, I don’t have it,’” said Barnes of his first touchdown catch. “And I was kind of disappointed. I caught it, and I looked at the ground and I was like, ‘Am I in the end zone?’ I’m in the end zone.”
The third quarter would end with the Raiders up 14-13, but seemingly having all of the momentum.
With 9:50 left in the game, Janikowski would kick a 23 yard field goal to extend the Raiders’ lead to 17-13. Seemingly, the Raiders were about to pull away, but then a costly officiating call put the game in jeopardy for the Silver and Black.
Chiefs punter, Dustin Colquitt, punted 53 yards to receiver Nick Miller, who muffed the catch, recovered at the Raiders’ 25 yard line and then returned it to the Oakland 30 before being brought down. In the process of being tackled, the ball came loose and a scrum between both teams ensued all the while two officials came running in pointing to the ground as to call the play dead.
When the tangled bodies were pulled away, it was the Raiders’ Cartwright who came up with the ball, except the officials deemed the fumble recovered by the Chiefs. The replay showed that Miller was down before the ball came out, but Cable didn’t have any challenges and with 9:02 remaining, he couldn’t get the official’s review.
The fumble proved costly. It took the Chiefs five plays to score on a pass to receiver Dwayne Bowe. The touchdown put the Chiefs up by three with a little over six minutes in the game and the stadium fell silent.
The Raiders would have the ball for nearly two minutes and be forced to punt it back to Kansas City with 4:16 to go. Lechler, who had been on the trainer’s table earlier in the game in pain, punted the ball only 34 yards to the Chiefs’ 45 where it was downed.
The Chiefs couldn’t execute their four-minute offense and in turn the Raiders had one last chance to tie or win the game. Starting from their own 25 with 2:06 to go, Campbell turned into George Blanda — who had been honored earlier in the day by announcing his family was in attendance at the game.
Campbell led the Raiders on a series of short passes to the Chiefs’ 41 and had 30 seconds left in the game to get into field goal range. On first and 10, Campbell completed a 19-yard pass to Jacoby Ford at the Chiefs’ 22, but rookie tackle Jared Veldheer was called for holding.
On the next play, with 24 seconds on the clock and no timeouts, Campbell again passed to Ford, but this time a Kansas City defender was poised to end the game with an interception in front of the rookie receiver. Not to be denied, Ford lept over the defender and somehow came down with the catch for a 29-yard gain on the Kansas City 22. Campbell then spiked the ball with seven second remaining and Janikowski was good on a 41-yard field goal to put the game into overtime.
Overtime lasted three minutes. The Chiefs won the toss and took possession first, but after going three and out, the Raiders would get the ball on their own 38. On the first play, Campbell launched a bomb to Ford for 47 yard pick up to the Chiefs’ 15. After a run by McFadden to position the ball on the right hash, Janikowski came on to win it with a 33-yard field goal.
Ford had his best day as a rookie with six catches for 148 yards and four returns for 158 yards with a touchdown. Some of his teammates deemed it the best receiving performance they’d seen. “Jacoby Ford stepped up to the plate today, and to be honest with you, he had…one of the best receiving outings that I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” said starting fullback Marcel Reece. “I honestly can’t think of anyone else who’s had a better receiving day than he has.”
The Raiders will go into the bye just a half game behind Kansas City and the only team in the AFC West with a perfect divisional record of 3-0. The Chiefs will face the Denver Broncos next week and if history is any indicator, the Raiders could come off the bye in first place. Teams are 1-7 this season the following week after playing the Raiders.
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