The Oakland Raiders went into Kansas City and dominated the hapless Chiefs to earn a 26-16 victory. Most of the domination came on the defensive side of the ball as the Raiders allowed just nine points until the Chiefs got a touchdown late in the game with the Raiders leading by 17.
Oakland’s offense sputtered and settled for four field goals, punted six times, went 2-of-12 on third down and scored a touchdown on just one of six trips into the red zone. If it wasn’t for Kansas City’s four turnovers and a couple big plays by the passing game, the contest could have gone much differently for the Raiders.
The defense in Oakland has been a problem for years, but has been significantly better since the team’s Week 5 bye. Oakland has been most vulnerable to the pass, but the Chiefs couldn’t get enough going to overcome the four turnovers.
The Raiders also did a good job stuffing Kansas City’s ground game. Jamaal Charles was held to a total of 10 yards on eight touches, which is his lowest offensive production of the season. Charles inexplicably wasn’t given more opportunities against the Raiders, but he wasn’t really productive with the few opportunities he did receive.
The defense had three sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries to cap a solid performance. The defense allowed the offense to work through issues with the running game and converting on third down. Darren McFadden finally started to bust free in the fourth quarter and got good chunks of yardage at the end of the game to finish with 114 rushing yards on 29 carries.
It was Oakland’s passing game that did most of the damage and Denarius Moore hauled in five passes for 96 yards and one touchdown. Darrius Heyward-Bey caught a 32-yard touchdown to give the Raiders a 26-9 advantage with three minutes remaining in in the third quarter. Brandon Myers and McFadden added 72 yards on seven receptions combined.
Palmer finished just 14-of-28 for 209 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, but he wasn’t sacked. When Palmer is sacked fewer than three times, the Raiders are 3-1 and when he accounts for at least two touchdowns, the Raiders are 3-0.
The Raiders also did a good job of reversing the recent trend of committing penalties and had just two for 20 yards. Unfortunately for the Raiders, one penalty set up the Chiefs touchdown after Richard Seymour was flagged for driving Cassel into the ground.
The win moves the Raiders to 3-4 on the season and into second place, a game behind the Denver Broncos. The Raiders are in the race and that's all fans can ask for after an offseason of change. The next three weeks will determine if the Raiders are legitimate contenders or pretenders in the AFC West.
Linebackers Philip Wheeler and Miles Burris have been a big part of Oakland’s defensive turnaround. Wheeler had 11 tackles to lead the team, while Burris recorded seven tackles of his own. Wheeler also had a sack on the day.
Wheeler was given the helmet radio after the bye week and Burris was shifted into the nickel linebacker role. Both jobs were stripped from former first-round draft pick Rolando McClain.
As it turned out, McClain has thrived in his new role and had another good game with four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble playing only in the base defense.
A limited role isn’t going to save McClain from his probable demise in Oakland, but if he keeps it up, he will help the Raiders this season and have other opportunities as a two-down linebacker in the NFL.
The only offensive player who was a stud for the Raiders was Moore. He was targeted eight times and caught five for 96 yards and a touchdown.
Moore is becoming Palmer’s favorite target and has at least four receptions in each of the last five games including a touchdown in four of the five. If Moore stays healthy, he’s on pace to become Oakland’s first 1,000-yard receiver since Randy Moss in 2005.
Honorable Mention: Sebastian Janikowski, the defensive line
The defensive secondary did intercept two passes, but Cassel went 20-of-30 with a touchdown, and the Raiders were only able to convert the interceptions into three points. Cassel had a season-high in completion percentage and quarterback rating against Oakland despite a consistent pass rush.
Dwayne Bowe, Tony Moeaki and Dexter McCluster accounted for 176 of Kansas City’s 219 pass yards and were targets of passes on 22-of-34 pass attempts. That’s just too much production from Kansas City’s trio to feel good about the secondary’s performance headed into the next three key weeks.