The Best Prime Time Game So Far: Raiders vs. Chiefs
By Chip Bayless
Wow. First off, that was the most absurd ending to a football game I may have ever seen. After various penalties that extinguished the game clock and both teams’ timeouts, the Raiders had the ball at the 5 yard line with only one play left to win the game. Although, one could argue the game should not have been this close considering Raiders kicker Giorgio Tavecchio missed 2 field goals (so one could argue the game should have been 30-30 at this point instead 26-30), but I digress. Derek Carr rolled out to his left and threw a perfect pass on the run and across his body to Michael Crabtree for the game-tying touchdown in the corner of the end zone. By the way, Tavecchio almost choked the game away at the end. He just barely hit the game winning…. extra point.
All that being said, Raiders fans have to be loving what they saw from their team this week. Khalil Mack singlehandedly got pressure on Alex Smith for a good portion of the night and was a significant part of the why the Raiders won. The play where he threw Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher to the ground with one arm was one of the most ridiculous displays of strength I have ever seen.
By the way in case anyone forgot, the man Mack bowled over wasn’t just any scrub left tackle. The Chiefs drafted Eric Fisher first overall in the 2013 draft.
In addition to Mack, Raiders fans must have found the performance of Derek Carr, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Amari Cooper encouraging. Carr’s contribution to this game was obvious as with Lynch ejected the Raiders threw 52 passes, topped 400 yards, had 3 TDs, and Carr threw a perfect clutch (essentially game-winning) touchdown pass to tie the game as time expired. Patterson may not have shown up too much on the stat sheet, but his contributions were key in this game as well. His only catch was an amazing one handed grab on a key third down. It was a five-wide set with 1-1 matchups across the board and Patterson managed to run a good out route and get separation in man coverage, something his critics have skewered him for not being able to do in the past. Also, Patterson made two clutch plays during punt returns while playing gunner as he downed a punt on the 1 yard line, and later made a fantastic open field tackle on Tyreek Hill on a punt in the 4th quarter. Amari Cooper has been struggling all year, but last night was his most productive outing yet. Cooper had 11 catches during a monster performance that included 210 yards and 2 touchdowns.
While the Raiders came out with the win, Chiefs fans have no reason to hang their head because this team is still one of the most talented in the NFL on both sides of the ball. Kareem Hunt now leads the NFL in all-purpose yardage with 1,002 yards. Meanwhile, no one else in the NFL has even broken 800. It looked as if the Chiefs were demonstrated their commitment to Hunt to start the game, as the first 4 plays of the game were all runs with Hunt. However, Hunt received very little usage after that. But since he is an elite player, he still managed to go over 100 yards and now has at least 100 yards in every game he has played in.
I once referred to Alex Smith as a “game-manager” who would have a tough time putting up points in a shootout. Thus far into the season, Smith has made me eat my words by becoming an expert coordinator of a complex offense. Two Alex Smith throws in particular last night deserve attention from NFL fans. On a touchdown pass to Travis Kelce, Kelce ran a corner route while the defense was basically in cover 2. Smith made a great throw over the linebacker covering the flat. Smith also made sure to put the ball high and away where only Kelce could grab it, leaving no chance for the safety covering the deep half to make a play.
The second Alex Smith throw deserving of extra recognition came on a play when he lofted a perfect pass over Tyreek Hill’s shoulder for a deep TD pass that managed to beat man coverage with safety help over the top (Hill once again threw up a piece sign in the direction of the Oakland defense before scoring, like the OG muthafucka he is). This brings up another bright reminder for Chiefs fans: Tyreek Hill may just be the most complete 5′ 10″ receiver in the game today. Watch this play where he made a spectacular leaping catch on the sideline despite getting crushed by Reggie Nelson and tell me I’m wrong
(Skip to 1:35 to see the play. Also since this is an NFL clip the embedding feature might be disabled here. In that case, all you would need to do here is click on the option that says “watch this on YouTube” or type in “Tyreek Hill highlights” into YouTube and click on the most recent one on the official NFL YouTube channel and skip to 1:35).
Aside from that, Tyreek can line up at wide receiver, in the slot, as a wing, or in the backfield and be productive in each of those areas.
Side note: Harrison Butker made another appearance as he drilled the opening 53 yard field goal.