By Dave Thomas
With a chance to put a little separation between themselves and the second-place Denver Broncos on Sunday, the Oakland Raiders (4-2) watched their hopes go down the drain on a soggy Northern California afternoon.
AFC West rival Kansas City (3-2) literally pounded the Raiders into submission with a punishing ground attack, allowing them to leave Oakland with a 26-10 victory. With the victory, the Chiefs climb right back into the division race, with even the 2-3 San Diego Chargers still within striking distance.
On this rainy day in the Bay Area, Oakland grabbed an early lead, but the resilient Chiefs looked nothing like the team that had been blown out in Pittsburgh (43-14) just two weeks earlier heading into a bye week.
After putting up 34 points on the division rival Chargers a week earlier, the Raiders looked like quite a different offense against the Chiefs.
Other than wide receiver Amari Cooper hauling in 10 receptions for 129 yards, Oakland’s offense never really got on track, including the play of quarterback Derek Carr. After some solid games to date, Carr (22-of-34, 225 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception) turned in average numbers at best. Meantime, Chiefs QB Alex Smith was like a surgeon out there, finishing a successful day going 19-of-22 for 224 yards passing.
Oakland, which was missing starting running back Latavius Murray (toe), had little to no running game on the afternoon. The Raiders’ best came from DeAndre Washington, finishing with 49 yards on 10 carries. On a wet day where ball control was even more important, Oakland’s inability to establish a running attack further doomed its chances.
Andre Holmes had the only Oakland touchdown on the day, a 3-yard pass from Carr to stake the Raiders to the early lead.
With its offense struggling, Oakland’s defense was quite frankly not much better.
Kansas City, which could not seem to do anything right against Pittsburgh just two weeks earlier, used a sound rushing attack to its benefit. Leading rusher Spencer Ware led the way with 131 yards on 24 carries, including a touchdown. Meantime, star running back Jamaal Charles tallied 33 yards on nine carries and a touchdown.
If there should be one major red flag for Oakland through six games, its defense is not exactly striking the fear into the hearts of opponents.
To date, Oakland has held opponents only once to under 20 points in a game (17-10 win over Tennessee in Week 3). In three of its games, Oakland has allowed 31 or more points.
On this afternoon, safety Karl Joseph led the Raiders with nine total tackles, with David Anderson, Khalil Mack and Cory James each tallying seven, respectively.
Special Teams: C
With only getting in the end zone once, Oakland did not exactly have a ton of kicking off to do.
The usually reliable Sebastian Janikowski finished his day one-of-two on field goals (made a 46-yard kick), while punter Marquette King had a 53-yard average on just three punts.
Coaching: B –
It wasn’t so much that Oakland’s Jack Del Rio did a bad job on this middle of October afternoon, it was more so that counterpart Andy Reid of Kansas City did a better one.
Reid was patient enough to let his team’s run game develop, going back to it over and over again as the day wore on. In the end, you could see what certainly looked like a tired Oakland defense on the field midway through the fourth quarter.
NEXT UP: Sitting atop the AFC West at 4-2 (tied with Denver), Oakland has a pair of Florida trips on its schedule the next two weekends, beginning with a visit to Jacksonville (Oct. 23). That contest will be followed by a date in Tampa Bay on Oct. 30. Getting Murray back to help with the ground game sooner rather than later would certainly be a plus. Meantime, Cooper continues to show why he is one of the better wide receivers in the NFL these days. The Alabama product has 36 receptions for 585 yards on the season.