Updated November 14, 2021 - 10:53 pm
If the rest of the NFL is being frank, the worry all along has been that Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs would re-emerge as a powerhouse at some point this season. Maybe even at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday against the Raiders.
That most assuredly happened, with Mahomes and the Chiefs unfurling all their weaponry and wizardry in a thoroughly convincing 41-14 win that was seen and heard across all corners of a bunched-up AFC that now appears to be the 6-4 Chiefs for the taking.
Equally concerning to the Raiders was that a version of themselves assumed buried would also emerge. Based on the events that unfolded on Sunday, it might be time to elevate that concern to downright worry.
The 5-4 Raiders didn’t just lose their second game in a row. They looked ill-prepared, lacked explosiveness and reverted to bad habits defensively. They also turned the ball over while squandering multiple opportunities to come up with turnovers of their own and were whistled for too many penalties.
“This is the kind of game you have to play well in all three phases,” Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia said. “We didn’t play well in any phase.”
“It’s a hard feeling,” quarterback Derek Carr said of the lopsided defeat. He finished 25 of 35 for 261 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
It was, to put it mildly, a throwback to some of the worst Raiders moments over the past few years. And it sets off all sorts of distress signals for a team desperately trying to avoid falling into the all-too-familiar second-half collapse trap that has sabotaged their last two seasons.
Avoiding another second-half pitfall is now the primary focus.
Easier said than done after taking what appeared to be a giant step backward on Sunday — including on defense, which had been a strength through the previous eight weeks.
Mahomes took advantage of the open field the Raiders’ defensive game plan too easily surrendered, torching them with underneath throws that chewed up big chunks of yards and moved the Chiefs up and down the field.
Criticized for his lack of patience this season while operating against defenses designed to take away the big play, he brilliantly capitalized on the Raiders’ approach by completing 35 of 50 passes for 406 yards and five touchdowns.
The Raiders surrendered 516 yards — including 119 yards on eight catches to Travis Kelce and 101 yards on nine catches to Darrel Williams — while giving up first downs on nine of 15 third-down attempts and on all four fourth-down tries.
Meanwhile, they failed to get a sack for the first time this season and registered just two hits on Mahomes. “We just have to tackle better, rush better,” defensive end Maxx Crosby said. “Be better in every phase.”
Offensively, the Raiders had trouble for the second straight week driving the ball down the field. After being in perpetual attack mode over the first seven games of the season, they have turned timid the last two games while playing without deep threat Henry Ruggs.
It didn’t help they were flagged multiple times on illegal procedure calls that stymied drives, managed just 50 yards rushing and ran just 51 plays to the Chiefs’ 76.
“We just didn’t execute the way we wanted to,” said Raiders wide receiver Bryan Edwards, who had three catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. “We just were shooting ourselves in the foot all game.”
The sudden loss of Ruggs has taken away the valuable element of speed from the Raiders’ offense. Without it, there wasn’t the room it helped to create for teammates like Darren Waller, who caught just four passes for 24 yards and seemed like an afterthought for most of the night.
DeSean Jackson was brought in this week to re-energize that part of the Raiders’ attack, but he was barely featured on Sunday.
The one time he was turned out to be disastrous. After hauling in a 38-yard pass from Derek Carr, Jackson inexplicably became discombobulated and turned upfield in a way that exposed the football for Rashad Fenton to punch it out for a costly turnover.
Had Jackson held onto the ball, the Raiders would have been perfectly positioned at the Chiefs’ 13-yard line to cut into a 24-14 deficit. Instead, the Chiefs turned around and scored the next 17 points to make it a blowout.
“Maybe the turning point in the game,” Bisaccia said.
The key now is making sure what happened on Sunday wasn’t the turning point of the season.