Raiders vs. Chiefs: Observations and Analysis from Kansas City's Saturday Loss
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The Kansas City Chiefs had a chance to get one step closer to repeating as AFC West champs for a second straight season this year.
Instead, they lost a nail-biter to the Oakland Raiders by the score of 16-13 on Saturday afternoon.
With the loss, the Chiefs were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs this season, as they fell to 6-9 overall.
Here are some of the observations that I got from watching this game for the Chiefs:
1. Romeo Crennel has his defense playing very well right now.
Last week, the Crennel-inspired Chiefs defense beat the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers at home.
In that game, they gave up just 235 passing yards to Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers, while holding Green Bay to just two touchdowns in the contest.
In Week 16 against the Raiders, we saw much of the same thing from this unit.
They held Carson Palmer and the Oakland offense to just 237 passing yards and didn't allow the Raiders' ground attack to reach 100 yards rushing in the game.
Even though KC still lost the game, their defense did their part by holding the Raiders to just a touchdown and three field goals, which kept the KC offense in the game from the outset.
2. QB Kyle Orton was very up and down in his second start with his new team.
Like the famous Charles Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities starts out, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times for new Chiefs quarterback Kyle Orton.
The ex-Bronco threw two interceptions in this game, with both coming from very risky passes that he threw into tight coverage.
However, he still managed to throw for 300 yards in the game and also led his team down for a game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
The jury is still out on whether or not Orton is the quarterback to lead this team in the future, but if anything, his performance against Oakland on Saturday further complicated an already difficult decision for who will be the starting QB for this franchise in 2012 and beyond.
3. Dexter McCluster finally got to show off his home-run hitting ability again.
Second-year man Dexter McCluster had one of the most electrifying plays of the week during this game.
Late in the game, the Chiefs needed a big play from their offense to help them get back into it.
Orton dumped off a pass to McCluster in the flat, and the former Ole Miss star did the rest as he weaved his way 49 yards down the field to set up the game-tying touchdown for KC.
It was refreshing to see McCluster show off that home-run-hitter-type speed again, which is something that we haven't seen since his 94-yard punt return TD that he had in his NFL debut against the Chargers last season.
4. The offense never got into any type of rhythm all game long.
A big reason why the Chiefs weren't able to win this game was because they had no consistent rhythm.
Most of this came from the excessive amount of penalties committed by the offense.
There were far too many false starts and holding penalties against KC, which really plagued this unit for most of the day.
KC was flagged 11 times in this game, with many of them coming from the offense.
This is something that definitely will have to be corrected if this team wants to take their offense to the next level in the future.
Who's more to blame for this loss?
5. The difference in this game was two blocked kicks by the Raiders.
I don't remember the last time I've seen a team get two of their field-goal attempts blocked in one game.
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, that is exactly what happened against the Raiders on Saturday.
Kicker Ryan Succop had made 22 straight field goals before the two botched attempts in this game.
If he would have made just one of those kicks, the Chiefs would be playing for the AFC West title next week in Denver.
Instead, Kansas City will be playing for pride next weekend in their regular-season finale.
The Chiefs played their hearts out on Saturday, but came up just short in the end.
It's a tough way to end their playoff hopes, but they still accomplished more this season than many thought they would have, considering the roller-coaster of a year that this franchise had.
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