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Derek Carr, Raiders make statement with win over Chiefs

Updated October 11, 2020 - 10:15 pm

Three takeaways from the Raiders’ 40-32 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in Kansas City, Missouri.

1. Signature win for Carr

The knock against Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was that his ceiling was only so high. He could put up Pro Bowl-type numbers and win a decent number of games, but wasn’t capable of elevating a team to a championship level.

Not that Carr put all those questions to rest with this victory, but he certainly took a major step forward in silencing his doubters.

He could’ve been rattled after a first-quarter interception led to a Kansas City touchdown and 14-3 lead. But Carr didn’t panic and responded with three consecutive touchdown drives to put the Raiders in front 24-21 and let the Chiefs know they weren’t going anywhere.

Carr later led an 8-minute touchdown drive and a series lasting 5:16 to set up a field goal and two-possession lead.

By the time he was done, Carr completed 22 of 31 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns.

It was quite a statement.

2. The defense stepped up

With the score even at 24 at halftime, it appeared as if the Raiders would need to try to win a shootout.

The second half didn’t develop that way, and it’s largely because their defense played like it hasn’t all season.

The Raiders didn’t allow Patrick Mahomes to take the Chiefs’ offense up and down the field like he usually does and did in the first 30 minutes. They held him and the offense to 103 yards in the second half.

That after the Chiefs racked up 310 yards by halftime.

More than just limiting the Chiefs offense, the Raiders’ defense made some big plays. Maxx Crosby had a key sack, and Jeff Heath set up the final Raiders touchdown with a 47-yard interception return.

The Chiefs being the Chiefs, they weren’t going to simply fade away, cutting what was a 40-24 deficit to 40-32 with 4:01 left.

But they didn’t get the ball back as the Raiders were able to convert a late fourth down and seal the victory.

Many questions remain about the defense, but if the Raiders build on this performance, this could turn into a much more special season than was expected.

3. Ruggs’ return crucial

After injuring a knee in the season opener at the Carolina Panthers, Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs hasn’t been able to contribute like he wanted and even sat out the past two games.

Without his ability to stretch the field, it forced Carr to work a lot of underneath routes because opposing defenses weren’t concerned about being beaten over the top.

That changed in this game with Ruggs not only being on the field, but healthy and playing at full speed. He caught two passes for 118 yards in the first half alone, including a 72-yarder with 2:39 left to give the Raiders a 24-21 lead after they had been down 21-10.

That speed element allowed the Raiders to keep up with a Chiefs offense that is as dynamic as any in the NFL.

Ruggs didn’t catch any passes in the second half, but the damage had already been done.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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