First-round pick Henry Ruggs got just three targets Sunday in his return to the lineup after missing two games for the Raiders.
The rookie from Alabama took full advantage of those limited opportunities.
Ruggs hauled in a 46-yard pass to set up a field goal on the opening drive and caught a 72-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter to give the Raiders a 24-21 lead in a game they eventually won 40-32.
“Well, we didn’t bring him in here to run hitch routes,” coach Jon Gruden said. “He can really run, and I think we have to be better about getting him the ball in other areas because he is a great route runner.”
Ruggs now has six catches in his career, with three going for at least 45 yards.
“Me being a speed guy, that’s one thing people are looking for and defenses have to account for,” Ruggs said. “I think that’s a big factor in the game plan and something you have to always be aware of.
“I know I have a role. I came in because the organization saw something in me that I could use my talents to help the team out. That’s what I’m doing.”
Derek Carr, who had by far his best game at Arrowhead Stadium and picked up the first win of his career in what had been a house of horrors for him, was certainly pleased to have such a weapon back on Sunday.
“There’s a lot of things that go into a victory, but to have the knowledge as a quarterback to know that you have a guy who runs a 4.1, 4.2 and to know not only that he knows what route to run, but if we get the look, he can win,” Carr said.
Ruggs has been compared to Chiefs’ star Tyreek Hill, who had three catches for 78 yards and ran for a touchdown on Sunday.
“I definitely admire Tyreek, but I don’t really compare myself to anyone,” Ruggs said. “Whenever my number is called, I know I’ll do whatever I have to do to make plays.”
He gave the league a glimpse of that on Sunday.
Airing it out
In addition to the long touchdown to Ruggs, Nelson Agholor scored on a 59-yard pass from Carr.
It marked the first time since Oct. 13, 1996, that the Raiders had two touchdown passes of more than 50 yards in a game.
Ruggs is the first player since Jordy Nelson on Sept. 23, 2018, to have multiple receptions of more than 40 yards in a game.
Carr went 3 of 4 on deep passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns just in the first half of Sunday’s game. According to Next Gen Stats, that was more deep passing yards than Carr had recorded in any full game over the past five seasons.
Sunday’s 347-yard performance by Carr was the first time a Raiders quarterback had thrown for 300-plus yards at Arrowhead Stadium since Rich Gannon in 2002.
Carr has now recorded a quarterback rating better than 100 in each of the team’s five games this season.
Reversing the trends
The Chiefs entered Sunday’s game with a 28-2 mark against divisional opponents over the last five years, tied for the best 30-game stretch by any team in NFL history and far better than the Raiders’ 12-18 mark against the AFC West over that span.
That stretch of dominance came crashing to a halt with the Raiders’ win on Sunday.
It also marked the first time in Patrick Mahomes’ career the Chiefs lost a game he started by more than seven points, snapping a record streak.
Calling in reinforcements
The Raiders activated defensive ends Chris Smith and Datone Jones from the practice squad for the game and both paid dividends in their Raiders’ debuts..
Smith had two tackles and a sack. Jones, a former first-round pick of the Packers, had two tackles and was a disruptive presence on the line.
They were needed in large part because Maurice Hurst is on the reserve/COVID-19 list and Maliek Collins was inactive due to an injury. Carl Nassib suffered a foot injury early in the game.
“It was their debut today and thank God we had them,” coach Jon Gruden said.
Gruden lost a coach’s challenge for the first time this season when he lobbied to have a long reception by Hill overturned in the first half.
He entered the game 1-0 on challenges this season after going 1-9 last year when he threw his flag.
The only previous time he challenged a play this season was when he successfully argued Darren Waller had caught a pass that had originally been ruled incomplete during the loss to Buffalo.