Chiefs Can’t Finish With Momentum

From Arrowhead Stadium

As football afternoons in January go, it doesn’t get much better than Sunday afternoon. The sun was shining, it was cold but not bitterly so. There were a lot of people in the seats enjoying football in person, rather than one of those bowl games on television.

Too bad the Chiefs didn’t show up for the game and enjoy the day as well. On the final Sunday of the regular season the Chiefs turned in one of their worst performances of the season, getting smashed by the Oakland Raiders 31-10.

The loss left them 10-6 on the season and sitting as the No. 4 seed in the AFC bracket for the playoffs. That brings them a home game next Sunday against the No. 5 seed, the 12-4 Baltimore Ravens.

Should they win that game and the Jets beat Indianapolis, the Chiefs would go to Pittsburgh. If they win and the Colts beat New York, they would face New England in the divisional round.

The hook the Chiefs were hanging their helmet on after Sunday’s debacle was the playoffs. The Raiders are going home at 8-8 and with a 6-0 record in the division. The Chiefs have more work to do.

“That’s the important thing here,” said CB Brandon Flowers. “We’ve got another game to get ready for. We’d like to start right now.”

That was said in the locker room moments after the game was over and before the Chiefs knew who their opponent was for the wildcard round. Everyone associated with the Chiefs wanted to rid themselves of the memory of the spanking they received from the silver and black.

“Today was very simple – the Raiders came in here and handled us in most areas,” said head coach Todd Haley. “Running the football for 200 plus rushing, you give up that kind of yardage you are going to lose the game. Give up seven sacks you are going to lose the game. Turn the ball over and you are going to lose the game. We just did too many things overall that will get you beat.”

Did they ever – it was an ugly stat sheet for the Chiefs, a very good one for the Raiders:

  • Oakland ran for 209 yards while limiting the leading rushing game in the league to 115 yards. That’s Raiders plus-94 yards.
  • Even without star RB Darren McFadden, the Raiders got a big game from RB Michael Bush with 137 yards o n 25 carries. RB Jamaal Charles had 87 yards on 14 carries. Give Oakland a plus-50 from the No. 1 backs.
  • The Raiders sacked Chiefs quarterbacks seven times, compared to four for the Chiefs. That’s Raiders plus-three.
  • QB Matt Cassel was picked off twice, while the Raiders turned the ball over only once. Give Oakland a plus-one in the turnover ratio.
  • Oakland threw for 135 yards, compared to 86 for the Chiefs. That’s Raiders plus- 49.

“Their coaches, their players did a good job and dominated us all day long,” said Cassel. “That’s what happened today. There’s no other way to put that.”

This game couldn’t have started out any better for the Chiefs. On the Raiders first offensive play of the game, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey was running an end-around when ILB Jovan Belcher knocked the ball loose and it was recovered by ILB Derrick Johnson at the Oakland 17-yard line.

But portending the way things would go all afternoon, the Chiefs only moved the ball five yards on three plays and had to settle for a Ryan Succop 30-yard field goal and an early 3-0 lead.

That held up until early in the second quarter, when QB Jason Campbell led the Raiders offense on a 14-play, 91-yard drive. That included a 35-yard completion to rookie WR Jacoby Ford who again tormented the Chiefs. The drive ended with a Campbell five-yard TD pass to WR Chaz Schilens who got behind the Chiefs goal line defense. The PAT kick by Sebastian Janikowski gave Oakland a 7-3 lead.

Later in the first half, Janikowski added a 38-yard field goal at the end of a 13-play, 54-yard drive. That made the score 10-3 as the Raiders dominated the second quarter.

But the Chiefs were still in the picture and on their first possession of the second half they got the running game going for the only time all afternoon. Juiced by a 47-yard run by Charles, they went 64 yards on six plays. The TD came from Charles, scoring on a five-yard run. The PAT kick tied the score at 10-10.

That was the last time the Chiefs had any say in the game’s outcome. Coaches always talk to their teams about when they are on the road they have to answer a score with a score. That’s just what the Raiders did. This was another long drive, as they kept the ball for nine plays and 75 yards, picked up 20 yards in penalties against the Chiefs and ended up scoring when Bush went for a 26-yard TD jaunt.

“At different times I felt like we battled back to get in the game and just could never get playing together and make good things happen,” said Haley.

What happened next was one of the worst fourth quarters the Chiefs have played in sometime. On their next 11 offensive plays, they gained 12 yards. In that span, Cassel threw a pair of interceptions. The first set up a 10-yard touchdown pass from Campbell to Ford. The second INT went for a pick-six, as CB Stanford Routt ran 22 yards for a touchdown.

That was 13 minutes, 51 seconds off the game clock and the Chiefs went from being tied to being down by 21 points.

Game, set and match – it all went to the Raiders.

“The Oakland Raiders clearly played better than us, and we did not play well enough to win,” said Haley. “The team that plays the best generally wins on Sunday. We had chances to get out to a good start and we weren’t able to do it. There were opportunities to get this thing going, and we just did not execute and then we did things from that point on that will get you beat.”

So they are now 10-6, a full six games better than their finish last season. They are in the playoffs for the first time since 2006, hold the division title for the first time since 2003 and will play their first home game in the post-season since that ’03 season.

“You have to take this loss on the chin,” said Flowers. “You can’t hang your head at all. We are going into a whole new season right now. We are going in with no wins and no losses. We have to come out here with energy next week and do what we have been doing at home: make plays and keep the crowd into it.”

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