In the first half, it looked like it would be another offensive explosion for the Chiefs. It was second-half mistakes and miscommunications that lead to the Chiefs offense to be “stopped” for the first time all year.
The Kansas City Chiefs lost a football game. It’s okay, things like this in the NFL happen, and the team they were playing needed this win for much more than just division standings or for playoff seedings.
They needed it to allow them to continue to believe in what their head coach Jon Gruden was preaching, as well as to keep trust in their Quarterback who just won his first game at Arrowhead in seven tries.
It isn’t about how good the Las Vegas Raiders played though, it sounds cliché, but once more it has more to do with what the Chiefs didn’t execute versus what the Raiders did. The Chiefs put up 32 points on offense, which is by no means a poor showing. That being said the offense only scored eight points in the second half, and combine that with a turnover was enough for the Raiders to squeeze by.
The first half started out pretty well, the Chiefs attacked the perimeter early with the run game, something that I thought they might try after a good job of sealing the edge last week against the Patriots.
The Chiefs also had some solid open run attempts, but that was before the devastating knee injury suffered by Kelechi Osemele, one that will likely cost him the rest of the season. There was a noticeable difference in the performance of the offensive line once Osemele was out.
The Raiders didn’t blitz the Chiefs much, and it was for a good reason. The only time that I saw they even attempted to blitz turned into a huge completion for the Chiefs, with Mahomes working the pocket and finding Travis Kelce who beat man coverage. This play would go on to set up the first score of the game for the Chiefs.
The Chiefs didn’t make many big plays in this game, which is uncharacteristic for them, but Mahomes did lead Hill perfectly on this play to set up another touchdown.
It was late in the second quarter that we started to see some struggles from the Chiefs against the Raiders four-man pressures, things very similar to what they saw a week ago against the Patriots. It also started to become clear that Clyde Edwards-Helaire needs to have a bigger role in the offense.
The Raiders coverage downfield started to become more complex, and as the pass rush started to get back it caused Mahomes to have to make a few plays like the one above. It also caused him to have to look again back to CEH.
Edwards-Helaire had just three receptions, but he finished with 40 yards, putting him at just over 13 yards a catch. As teams try to imitate what the Raiders did to beat the Chiefs it will be more crucial for CEH to be a key player in the offense.
The ground game was nearly nonexistent in the second half. The Chiefs showed this counter concept last week for a few nice games but it yielded a negative gain here. Once again it came down to the Chiefs not being able to block the first level of defenders which didn’t allow CEH gaps to run through.
The struggles upfront would continue, but the issues we have seen in the past with Mahomes struggling to step up, but also we saw this problem compounded by the offensive lines inability to consistently block four-man pressures. This all combined with the Raiders dropping seven to eight every play caused issues.
The protection issues and good coverage from the Raiders didn’t let the Chiefs get any rhythm in the second half, and a late interception from Mahomes all but sealed a Las Vegas victory.
Still when it came down to the Chiefs final offensive drive, Mahomes still lead them down and with help from Darrell Williams made it a one possession game.
The loss stings, and losing to a rival is never a great feeling, but I can’t stress enough to everyone reading this, it will be okay. The Chiefs were here before last year, at some point they could find themselves back here again.
The team needs to take a look at how they can counter these deep coverages as well as block up the four-man front. They need to get something going in the quick game, specifically quick passes to soften up coverages. Too many times receivers were at least 15-20 yards down the field, playing right into what the Raiders wanted. They need shorter options and to be able to let the athletes play in space.
It will also be imperative that they find a way to keep Edwards-Helaire more involved in the game plan because it may have not been highlighted but he was giving the Raiders issues when they tried to tackle him in the open field.
The team has a lot to build on and a long way to go, but there is a lot of season left. They will see this Raiders team again, and I’m sure Andy Reid and his crew will be ready to show what they can do when they play to their full capabilities.