For six seasons the Raiders have owned Arrowhead Stadium, but a newly reloaded Kansas City Chiefs team proved to be just too deep for the Oakland Raiders on Sunday as a defensive battle between the two AFC West rivals ended with the hosts ending their losing streak at home with a 24-7 victory.
If Raider fans felt that they owned Arrowhead Stadium before Sunday it was clear that the Chiefs picked up their mortgage when they added Alex Smith and Andy Reid this offseason. Gone were the terrible errors of the past from quarterbacks like Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel and were replaced by a boringly conservative, yet winning gameplan that proved too much for the weakened Raiders to match.
It didn’t look that way for the majority of the first half as for a third straight week the Raiders defense came out to play. Stopping the Chiefs to a series of three and outs, the Raiders eventually took a 7-0 lead off of a Denarius Moore touchdown catch. The touchdown came after the Raiders were in scoring position on a previous drive that was ended with a 51 yard miss from Sebastian Janikowski.
Kansas City would answer back with a touchdown drive of their own before the half, a pass interference penalty on D.J. Hayden while shadowing Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe would set up a Jamaal Charles touchdown plunge to send the game into halftime tied 7-7.
In the second half the crowd noise at Arrowhead combined with a ravaged offensive line began to show. After Pryor had a stellar first half, he began to hit the dirt far more often in the second half as the undefeated Chiefs showed why they were 5-0 coming into Sunday by closing out the Raiders.
Andre Gurode left in the first half with a knee injury and right tackle Tony Pashos was pulled in the third quarter after re-aggravating a groin injury that kept him out last week against San Diego.
Matt McCants stepped in at right tackle, and Mike Brisiel moved from right guard to center and Lamar Mady came in Brisiel’s place. With so many on the fly changes for the Raiders on the line it was no surprise that the Silver and Black gave up ten sacks, Kansas City’s top ranked pass rush spent the second half overpowering the line on every Oakland drive.
Still the game was within reach for a long period of the second half despite the mismatch in talent thanks to the Raiders defense, but in the end Alex Smith did what he has done all season in getting a timely second half TD drive out of a huge third down heave to Dwayne Bowe before Charles finished with his second rushing TD from within five yards on the day to put the Chiefs up 14-7. The Raiders would never get close to tying the game from that point.
Pryor threw two costly fourth quarter interceptions, including one that was returned with under 2 minutes remaining by Chiefs cornerback Husain Abdullah, who returned it 44 yards for a touchdown. That touchdown made it 24-7 Chiefs.
In a game that would define the Raiders start to the season heading into the bye week it confirmed what we already knew heading into the game. That this Raiders team despite having raw talent, is decimated with injuries that have exposed what wasn’t a deep football team. Any football team would likely lose after having an entire first string unit of offensive linemen reshuffled, but a team that was projected to be among the worst in the league from a talent standpoint going into the preseason really had no chance to go out of Arrowhead with a win after the injuries to Gurode and Pashos made a poor offensive line abysmal.
Going into the bye week it is once again clear that the Oakland Raiders are a work in progress, geared towards a 2014 push with unlimited cap room coming to the hands of Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen. With rookies Sio Moore and D.J. Hayden making big plays and Pryor still showing that he can make big plays even in tough situations at times, you could still see the steps in the right direction that we saw in the win over the Chargers. Kansas City proved that you can rebuild quickly in the NFL on Sunday and moved to a 6-0 start, but the Raiders with nearly $60 million in 2014 cap space and a roster sprinkled with diamonds found in the rough of a rebuild and blue chip draft picks making plays are the next in line in the AFC West to make a push at the playoffs.
Pryor shines in first half, but second half struggles shows he is work in progress
Terrelle Pryor will be spending the bye week with throwing coach Tom House, for Raider fans that is a very good thing because Pryor still needs to take out some of the flaws in his game. Including his decision making and habit to throw off his back foot.
Throwing off the back foot led to Pryor’s first interception and it triggered a second half’s worth of struggles for the Raiders offense that was hampered by the Chiefs pass rush and their injuries.
Pryor hadn’t committed a turnover since Week 1 at Indianapolis before throwing a careless pass over the middle on a third down with no open receivers in sight. Chiefs safety Quentin Demps intercepted it and set up an tide-turning touchdown drive. Pryor also threw the aforementioned Pick 6 to pour some more salt in the wounds with under two minutes remaining.
Still Pryor did show his potential at the start of the game, completing 7-of-11 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown before finishing 18-of-34 passing for 216 yards, a touchdown and three INT’s.
Pryor connected with Denarius Moore on a 37-yard touchdown pass that completed a six-play, 78-yard drive that was the lone highlight of a tough day at the office for the Raiders offensive unit as a whole.
Pryor is clearly still a work in progress and it has been clear in the past that Reggie McKenzie isn’t exactly sold on Pryor as the QB of the future with all of that cap space available to bring somebody in, with Pryor being cheap on the cap it would be wise for him to see his development through, working with House on his mechanics again during the bye is a positive sign that Pryor is going to continue to improve into a top level quarterback in the league. It is not a guarantee, and first he will have to improve on his decision making. Poor offensive line or not three interceptions on the road will almost always result in a loss in the NFL.
Chiefs on fast track to playoffs
Sunday’s 24-7 win from the Chiefs moved Kansas City to 6-0 on the season, undefeated under coach Andy Reid and new starting quarterback Alex Smith. It also has Kansas City in prime positioning for securing a wild card berth should they lose out on the AFC West title to the Denver Broncos.
Already blessed with talented players on both offense and defense prior to this season, the acquisitions of head coach Andy Reid and Alex Smith give the Chiefs a cool presence in all situations. They don’t intimidate you with overwhelming offense or big plays over the course of an entire game, but they also don’t allow the opposition to get much ground. With Smith avoiding mistakes the Chiefs are almost a lock at this point to at least make the playoffs, a trip any farther than that is up for debate. It is however undeniable that Kansas City aren’t a very good football team, to go 6-0 to start a season with a new head coach and quarterback requires a ton of overall team talent, the next step is seeing how far that talent takes the Chiefs.
Moore, Hayden shine in first Raiders-Chiefs appearances
Rookies Sio Moore and D.J. Hayden highlighted a Raiders defense that came out to play at Arrowhead on Sunday, showing their potential in first Chiefs-Raiders appearances.
Moore earned a sack on the first play of the game, for the third round draft pick out of Conneticut it was a play that has been a long time coming. Very vocal and energetic, Moore has been slowed down by injuries to start his rookie season including a concussion after getting into an accident driving to the team flight to Denver for Oakland’s Monday night game, to see Moore making a play after some unplanned adversity after impressing during training camp was a highlight of the game.
Oakland’s first round pick, cornerback D.J. Hayden out of Houston, may have been burned on a pass interference call while covering Dwayne Bowe that led to the Raiders allowing a Chiefs game tying touchdown to end the half, but his bone crunching tackle while covering a screen attempt led to a fumble recovery in the red zone that kept Oakland in the game.
Charles Woodson recovered the forced fumble from the rookie.
Hayden also returned a long punt 39 yards in an impressive show of his all around skills in both the special teams game and on defense, with both Moore and Hayden making plays Reggie McKenzie’s ability to evaluate talent looks a lot better after a week if second guessing following the release of Matt Flynn.