By Matt McMullen – Chiefs.com
The Kansas City Chiefs overcame an early 17-point deficit on Monday night to defeat the Las Vegas Raiders, 30-29, behind a furious comeback and a four-touchdown performance by tight end Travis Kelce.
The victory – which marked the third-largest regular season comeback in franchise history – was made possible due to a relentless effort on both sides of the ball despite considerable adversity. In fact, after falling behind by 17 points late in the second quarter, the Chiefs scored on each of their next five possessions – tallying 30 points – while the Raiders mustered only two field goals in that span.
“Being down by 17, nobody cracked, and you didn’t see doubt in anybody’s eyes. All it did was build the beast, make us rally together and fight for each other,” Kelce said. “We know we can play some good football when we have that kind of mentality.”
Despite those heroics, however, the Chiefs’ defense still needed to make one final stop to secure the win. Las Vegas – trailing by only one point – took over at its own 7-yard line just prior to the two-minute warning with an opportunity to get into field goal range for kicker Daniel Carlson, who had made 38 consecutive field goals entering the drive.
The Raiders ended up driving to midfield, but facing a fourth down with 47 seconds remaining in the game, quarterback Derek Carr’s pass fell incomplete and the Chiefs took over on downs. It was a thrilling ending to an exhilarating game that demonstrated the resolve of a team that simply refused to quit.
“[Our attitude] was no different [when trailing]. We knew that we were going to win the game,” said wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who finished the game with six catches for 90 yards. “They jumped out to an early lead and did some things well on defense, but there was no fear in our heart and no doubt that we were going to be able to score points.”
It certainly wasn’t looking good early though, as the Raiders raced out to a 17-point advantage before the Chiefs even touched the scoreboard. Carr led scoring drives on three of the Raiders’ first four possessions while the Chiefs managed just four first downs in that time, but following a slow first quarter, Kansas City soon broke free of those woes in a big way.
A play that helped shake off that sluggish start – and one that shouldn’t be forgotten – was a 30-yard run by tailback Jerick McKinnon that moved the chains on a 2nd-and-17. The run seemed to finally wrestle some momentum in the Chiefs’ favor, and six plays later, Mahomes found Kelce in the end zone for a 1-yard score.
The Raiders then answered with a field goal, but despite taking over with just 17 seconds remaining in the first half, Mahomes managed to get Chiefs’ kicker Matthew Wright in position to attempt a career-long, 59-yard kick as time expired in the second quarter. Wright nailed the field goal – narrowing the deficit to just 10 points heading into halftime – and the comeback was underway. The kick, as it turned out, was the longest successful field goal in franchise history.
Kansas City was sure to carry its growing momentum into the second half, too, as Mahomes engineered a 12-play, 75-yard scoring series that ended with a four-yard touchdown pass to Kelce immediately following the break. The Raiders proceeded to go three-and-out on their ensuing possession, and soon after, Mahomes and Kelce connected again – this time for an eight-yard score – to complete the comeback and push Kansas City out in front.
Las Vegas then responded with a field goal, cutting the deficit to just one point, but the Chiefs answered the bell yet again a drive later when Mahomes found Kelce for yet another touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
Altogether, Kelce’s efforts matched a franchise record for receiving touchdowns in a single game, joining Jamaal Charles (2013) and Frank Jackson (1964). He finished the game with a team-most seven grabs for 25 yards.
Kelce’s final touchdown put the Chiefs ahead by seven points, but the game was far from over. In fact, Carr found wide receiver Davante Adams deep down the field for a 48-yard touchdown a possession later to pull within an extra-point of tying the game.
The score came with four minutes and 27 seconds remaining in the contest, but in an effort to take the lead, Las Vegas elected to go for two points with a run up the middle by tailback Josh Jacobs. The Chiefs’ defense held Jacobs short to preserve Kansas City’s advantage, and while the Raiders had one final shot at the end a few minutes later, they never re-claimed the lead.
“In training camp, we made a statement that we wanted to be an ‘attitude defense.’ When the opportunity fell in our lap to finish that game on the defensive side, we wanted to do that,” said safety Justin Reid. “We don’t want to always have to rely on the offense. We want to come out as a defense and be strong, be physical, and finish out games, too.”
It was a truly wild game from start to finish, chock full of emotional highs and lows for both teams in what turned out to be another classic chapter in this storied rivalry. The victory meant that Kansas City continued its recent dominance over the AFC West, as the Chiefs moved to 33-5 vs. divisional opponents since 2016.
In terms of injuries, Head Coach Andy Reid mentioned defensive lineman Tershawn Wharton (torn ACL), safety Bryan Cook (concussion), defensive end Frank Clark (sick), cornerback Chris Lammons (hip) and cornerback Rashad Fenton (cramps) following the game.
The Chiefs will now quickly turn their attention to the Buffalo Bills for a clash between two of the top teams in the AFC at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday afternoon.