In Week 9, the Kansas City Chiefs looked to come out of Oakland's "Black Hole" with a win over the Raiders and a stronghold on the division lead, but instead they came away with neither. It was a tale of two halves, and the Chiefs' second half tale didn't have the storybook ending they had hoped for.
Both teams started slowly, not really doing anything on their first three drives. After a total of two punts and one failed fake punt each, the Chiefs took the early lead with an 11-yard TD pass from Matt Cassel to rookie free agent Verran Tucker to take a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The Chiefs would add a field goal just over three minutes later to extend the lead to 10-0. Everything was going according to plan for the Chiefs, despite their running game never really gaining any ground. Matt Cassel was beginning to look like the QB that Chiefs fans were hoping for when the team signed him to his multi-year deal in the 2009 off-season.
In the first 29 minutes of the game, Matt Cassel threw for 138 yards and a TD. The Chiefs scored 10 points, forced and recovered a Raider fumble, forced three punts and a turnover on downs, and intercepted a Jason Campbell pass in the red zone with just over a minute to play in the first half—but as we all know, there are at least 60 minutes in a football game.
The Raiders picked-off Cassel's last pass of the first half in the end zone and managed to escape the half down only 10-0 after barely putting up a fight for the first 29 minutes. Jason Campbell had only completed four passes for 18 yards up to that point, all of them to running backs. Things were about to change.
The Raiders rode the momentum of their interception right into the second half, returning the opening kickoff 94 yards for a TD to close the gap to 10-7.
On the ensuing Raiders kickoff, Chiefs return man Javier Arenas fumbled and the Raiders got their second turnover in as many Chiefs touches, recovering the fumble at the KC 34-yard-line.
The Raiders drive resulted in a missed 47-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal, but the backdrop was set for a devastating Oakland Raiders comeback. After holding the Chiefs to just a field goal on their next drive, the Raiders answered back with another TD, this time a Jason Campbell TD pass to take their first lead of the game, 14-13.
The Chiefs continued to look flat for the remainder of the second half, and the Raiders tacked on yet another field goal to take a 17-13 lead with just under 10 minutes to play in the game.
The Chiefs' next drive would result in yet another three-and-out, but Raiders return man Nick Miller muffed a Dustin Colquit punt and the Chiefs recovered. Five plays later, Cassel found wide receiver Dwayne Bowe in the end zone for a 20-yard TD pass, and the Chiefs took a 20-17 lead with 6:13 to play in the fourth quarter.
After giving up a 12-yard pass from Jason Campbell to Jacoby Ford, the Chiefs forced a glorified three-and-out, and a familiar scenario was once again in play. The Chiefs got the ball back near midfield with 4:04 left to play in the fourth, and all they had to do was pick up a couple of first downs to close out the game and leave Oakland with a win.
The Chiefs could only muster one first down, though, and they gave the Raiders one more chance with 2:06 to on the clock—this would prove to be too much time.
The Chiefs soft defense mixed with a big play by Ford on a Campbell pass over the middle for 22 yards showed Chiefs fans a sight they've become all too familiar with lately: another late game collapse.
Campbell threw for 211 yards and a TD in the second half, and running back Darren McFadden racked-up 89 yards on only 17 carries, much of which came in the second half. All of this culminated with a Sebastian Janikowski 41-yard field goal to tie the game and send it into overtime. In extra time, the Chiefs gave up yet another big play from Campbell to Ford, who finished the game with six catches for 148 yards, for 47 yards to the KC 15-yard-line.
The Raiders played very well in the second half and into overtime with standout performances from QB Jason Campbell, RB Darren McFadden and WR Jacoby Ford. Janikowski kicked the 32-yard field goal through the uprights, giving the Raiders a 23-20 win and completing the Chiefs meltdown .
It was the third time in the Chiefs' last four games that they had the ball with less than four minutes to go and failed to close out in regulation.
The Chiefs blew a 31-21 lead with 7:06 to play in Week 6 against the Texans. They let the Bills score a TD on fourth down with 2:18 left to play to send that game into overtime and only won because icing the kicker actually worked. And this week, they let the Raiders throw right down the middle of the field to put them into field goal range in both regulation and overtime.
A Chiefs defense that starts games as bend-but-don't-break suddenly flicks the switch and becomes bend-and-then-fall-to-pieces in almost every game. After Week 2's win against the Browns, every game they've played excepting the Jaguars game has had the Chiefs coming in like a lion and leaving like a lamb.
I'm not going to be one of those doomsday writers who makes every loss out to be the end of the world. I still believe that the Chiefs can and will win the AFC West, but they definitely have some kinks to work out if they plan to do any more than that—or heck, if they even plan to do that.
They have some serious talent on this team. WR Dwayne Bowe has six TD catches in the last four games and at least one in each of those games. CB Brandon Flowers is emerging as one of the league's best cornerbacks. Safety Eric Berry is an absolute beast in run stopping, pass rushing, and even coverage, now.
The defensive line plays very well and Glenn Dorsey and Tamba Hali get pressure every week. Linebacker Derick Johnson seems to get in on every other big play. Oh, let's not forget the stud running backs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones who are probably the NFL's best one-two punch in any backfield.
The Chiefs' schedule is very favorable in the remaining weeks of 2010, and they will get a chance at revenge on the Raiders on January 2nd in what could possibly be a battle for the division. Both the Raiders and the Chargers still have to play the Colts, as well as some other teams that the Chiefs don't have to face this year.
It's certainly not time to panic, as the 5-3 Chiefs are still up a half a game on the Raiders and 1.5 on the Chargers, but the staff should be concerned at their young team's propensity for the dramatic. Especially since they seem to be coming out on the losing end of it more often than not these days.