Fireworks went off at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday night, both literally and figuratively. Meeting for the first time in the 2022 season, the Chiefs and Raiders combined for almost 750 total yards, going back and forth as Patrick Mahomes slung it to Travis Kelce and Derek Carr fed Davante Adams. Despite a hot start from Las Vegas, who scored 17 unanswered points to open the matchup, Kansas City finished on top. Kelce paved the way with a “Monday Night Football”-record four touchdown catches, sealing a 30-29 victory that keeps the Chiefs atop the AFC West at 4-1, while dropping Josh McDaniels’ squad to 1-4 on the year.
Carr gave it his all to mount a late comeback after the Raiders lost the lead, hitting Adams on a deep TD to pull within one point in the fourth quarter. But McDaniels opted to go for two rather than tie the game at 30, and the Chiefs defense held firm, stuffing an otherwise productive Josh Jacobs at the goal line. Mahomes, meanwhile, was money when targeting Kelce, who also set a team record for TD catches by a tight end.
Why the Chiefs won
It was a tale of two halves Monday night. The Raiders dominated the first half, but even down 17 points, you can never count the Chiefs out. Kansas City’s ability to persevere even when they are losing is one of their biggest strengths.
The Chiefs excel when they are behind, taking the pressure and benefiting from it rather than collapsing underneath it. Kansas City stayed poised while trailing, while the Raiders got desperate and made questionable decisions, but more on that in the next category.
Kansas City’s efficiency on third down in the second quarter was a major difference maker from the first, where the third-and-outs were adding up.
Another reason the Chiefs won was their Mr. Reliable on offense, tight end Travis Kelce, who had four (yes, FOUR) touchdowns on the night. You can’t let Kelce in the end zone four times if you want to give yourself a good chance to win.
Why the Raiders lost
The Raiders let the Chiefs offense do what the Chiefs offense does best: exploit opposing defenses. They had them in the first half, but playing Kansas City takes all 60 minutes. The Raiders’ aggressiveness slowed in the second half on defense and they had no answer for quarterback Patrick Mahomes and company.
Everyone knows Kelce is the go-to guy for the Chiefs, yet the Raiders let him score four times.
The Raiders also beat themselves on many occasions.
What would have been a missed field goal for the Chiefs turned into a Kelce touchdown due to a costly holding penalty on the Raiders during the field goal try. The Raiders stopped the Chiefs in the red zone, something very difficult for teams to do, but erased that with their own mistake.
With just under five minutes to go in the fourth, the Raiders decided they would “play to win the game,” as Herm Edwards famously said, rather than take the tie towards the end of the game. Down 30-29, they went for two rather than take the (pretty much) guaranteed points from the extra point. The two-point try failed, so they remained behind.
Their defense stepped up, but the offense was unable to get into field goal position, turning it over on downs, with victory formation from the Chiefs left to end the game. Had the Raiders taken the extra point rather than go for it on two, the game would have been tied as the clock expired and gone to overtime.
Overall, the Raiders did not have the stamina to keep up with the Chiefs. Combined with self-inflicted wounds, they almost seemed destined to lose the game.
Which Kelce touchdown should we pick? The first one from No. 87, in the second quarter, made the statement to the Raiders, and the crowd, to never count the Chiefs out and never get too comfortable with a lead.
The second Kelce TD, a four-yard reception in the third quarter, was really when the game began to flip, and anyone who watches Chiefs football was likely predicting that KC would end up turning this one around and winning. The touchdown gave the Chiefs their first lead of the game and the momentum. Once they get that rhythm on offense, the Chiefs typically get it done and end up winning the game, which is exactly what happened here.
Play of the game
Kelce’s fourth touchdown not only electric, but was a record-setter. Kelce now is the “Monday Night Football” leader for most touchdowns by a player in a game. After the touchdown, the already loud crowd exploded and Mahomes held up four fingers to celebrate. Kelce’s four touchdowns were all fewer than 10 yards, the first time that has happened in NFL history, per CBS Sports research team.
The Kansas City Chiefs will face arguably their toughest opponent yet next week when they host the Buffalo Bills. Quarterback Josh Allen is playing at an elite level and continues to be a favorite for the league MVP award. The Bills are coming off a dominant 38-3 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in which Allen had an incredible 424 total yards with four touchdowns, and he did not even play the entire game.
The Raiders will get some rest after this Monday night game, but after their bye week they will face the Houston Texans on Oct. 23. Heading into Week 6, the Texans (1-3-1) have been one of the worst teams in the league.