One couldn’t help but wonder which version of the Chiefs the nation would be treated to Thursday night.
Would they see the high-scoring, fun-to-watch group that overwhelmed their first five opponents on the way to becoming the NFL’s sole undefeated team at 5-0? Or would they see the offensively-inept, undisciplined run-defending unit that looked disjointed in a not-as-close-as-it-seemed loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday?
Fortunately for the nationally-televised audience that tuned in to watch the Chiefs face the desperate Oakland Raiders, they got the former.
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, that still wasn’t enough to overcome the Raiders’ resurgent passing attack –– and a rough officiating night –– in a 31-30 loss at the Oakland Coliseum.
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“Had a few penalties down the stretch there that got us,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “It’s a shame it came down to that, right? Let the guys play there. Let them settle it right there on the field.”
Early on, it didn’t take long to see that kind of outcome might be what was in store for the Chiefs.
Although the final penalty tally was fairly even –– the Chiefs were flagged eight times for 108 yards and the Raiders were flagged 10 times for 97 yards –– Kansas City appeared to be on the receiving end of a handful of hard-to-swallow penalty calls.
After the Chiefs opened the scoring with a field goal, the Raiders –– whose stagnant passing offense, which ranked 27th in the league entering the game, contributed to a miserable 2-4 start and four-game losing streak –– quickly responded with a touchdown, courtesy of a 38-yard throw from quarterback Derek Carr to receiver Amari Cooper.
But to catch the ball, Cooper placed his hands on the back of Chiefs cornerback Terrance Mitchell, who promptly fell and allowed Cooper to catch the ball uncontested.
The referee who trailed the play threw the flag –– while several Chiefs signaled it was offensive pass interference –– but later picked it up. The touchdown stood.
“I’m not going to comment on that –– I mean, they’re trying to do their best job,” said Reid, who seemed annoyed by the call on the field. “Whether I agree with it or not, it doesn’t really matter. The call stood and that’s what it was.”
And while it may have been a harbinger for the future, the Chiefs didn’t just take it. They bounced right back, courtesy of a seven-play, 82-yard scoring drive guided by quarterback Alex Smith –– who completed 25 of 36 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns for the game –– and capped the drive with a 10-yard touchdown throw to tight end Travis Kelce on a corner route.
Cooper, however, proved to be a hard man for the Chiefs to cover. He caught a deep cross from Carr –– who completed 29 of 52 passes for 417 yards and three touchdowns –– and proceeded to run right past safety Eric Murray for a 45-yard touchdown that put the Raiders ahead 14-10 entering the second quarter.
And though Cooper went on to have a huge night –– catching 11 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns –– Murray would redeem himself.
Following a killer 99-yard scoring drive by the Chiefs –– which was capped by 64-yard touchdown throw from Smith to receiver Tyreek Hill, who caught six passes for 125 yards, on a go-ball down the right sideline –– Murray blocked a 53-yard field goal to preserve the Chiefs’ lead. Another field goal put the Chiefs ahead 20-14 at the break.
But for all the scoring action that happened, none of that was the most interesting thing that happened in the first half, as the two teams got into a second-quarter skirmish when cornerback Marcus Peters came in late to hit Carr.
Peters’ mentor, Marshawn Lynch, ran in from the Raiders’ sideline to keep the peace between his Raiders teammates and his fellow Oakland native. Lynch, however, placed both hands on an official to do so, and was ejected.
The entertainment continued throughout the second half. The Chiefs’ run defense was better than it was against the Steelers, as they yielded 88 yards instead of 194, but a 4-yard DeAndre Washington touchdown run gave the Raiders a 21-20 lead to open the half.
The Chiefs quickly re-took the lead when Smith heaved a deep ball over the middle that was tipped by a Raider and caught by receiver Albert Wilson, who strutted into the end zone for a 63-yard score.
The Chiefs extended their lead to 30-21 courtesy of another field goal, and that was the score entering the fourth quarter, when the Raiders pulled within striking distance with another field goal.
After each team exchanged fruitless drives, the Raiders got the ball back –– down six points –– at their own 15-yard line with a little more than 2 minutes left. That’s when Carr and the Raiders’ resurgent passing game started getting to work … and the Chiefs again started having issues with the officials.
Carr led the Raiders down the field, even connecting with tight end Jared Cook for an apparent 29-yard touchdown over a host of Chiefs. But the touchdown was overturned, and Cook was ruled down at the 1-yard line with 8 seconds left.
Once again, the Raiders seemed to get a big score when Michael Crabtree caught a touchdown pass against Peters. But an offensive pass interference penalty nullified that score, giving the Raiders the ball at the Chiefs’ 11 with 3 seconds left and one more crack at a touchdown.
Well, seemingly. Carr’s next pass was incomplete, and the Chiefs thought they’d won … until safety Ron Parker was whistled for pass interference. That gave the Raiders another crack at a score, which resulted in another incompletion that would have ended the game … had Murray not been whistled for holding.
That gave the Raiders the ball at the Chiefs’ 2 with one more chance to score. Carr rolled to his left and fired a missile to Crabtree near the sideline, who hauled it in for a game-tying touchdown. The officials reviewed the catch –– and if you thought they were going to overturn it, you weren’t paying attention –– and the Raiders connected on the extra point to solidify the win.
With the loss, the Chiefs fell to 5-2 and saw their AFC West winning streak snapped at 11 games.
The loss –– combined with the Steelers’ defeat –– made for a hard week. But the Chiefs will have time to recover since their next game isn’t until they face the Denver Broncos on “Monday Night Football” on Oct. 30.
Given the way Thursday’s game ended, it will likely take at least that long to get the taste of the loss out of their mouths.
“I hate seeing all the flags at the end,” Smith said. “That’s the one thing –– you want to let your guys play and you don’t want the refs involved, as much as possible.”