KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Las Vegas Raiders stumbled into Kansas City still harboring playoff hopes, even though they’ve been beset by injuries, dealt with a season’s worth of off-the-field turmoil, and had lost four of their last five games.
They looked more like a team deserving of the No. 1 draft pick on Sunday.
Josh Jacobs fumbled on the game’s opening play and the Chiefs returned it for a touchdown. Derek Carr was picked off a few minutes later and the Chiefs turned that into a score. And when tight end Foster Moreau fumbled later in the first half, it felt as if the Chiefs would reach the end zone again — which they did.
Kansas City turned the three first-half turnovers into 21 points, led 35-0 at the break and caused two more turnovers in the second half as the Chiefs cruised to a dominant 48-9 victory on Sunday.
So much for a team that began the day tied with the Broncos, two games back of the Chiefs in the AFC West.
“I’d love to tell you, ‘Boy, we had a really bad week of practice and I saw this coming,’” Raiders coach Rich Bisaccia said. “I thought we had a really good week of practice. I didn’t see this coming. I didn’t see the turnovers from good players. When that happens it’s like, ‘Geez, what’s going to happen next?’”
The answer was nothing good.
Carr was held to 263 yards passing, almost all of it going to Hunter Renfrow, while getting relentless pressure by a resurgent Kansas City pass rush. Jacobs had just 24 yards rushing, the Raiders committed nine penalties for 85 yards, and they didn’t reach the end zone until late in the third quarter.
By that point, the only question was whether the Raiders (6-7) would absorb a record-setting loss.
That became the case with 7:19 left in the fourth quarter when third-string running back Derrick Gore was allowed to run free 51 yards for a touchdown. That pushed the margin of victory to 39, eclipsing the 35-point edge the Chiefs piled up in a 42-7 victory on Nov. 8, 1964 — when both teams still called themselves members of the AFL.
“There’s a lot of frustration,” Carr said, “but we try our best to stay positive. It sucks, but what other choice do I have? Go in a hole and be depressed with everybody? I still have a job to do. I’m going to go to work and keep grinding and give this thing everything I have because this game deserves that.”
Adding insult to insult: The last time the Raiders played in Kansas City, they took a victory lap in their team buses around Arrowhead Stadium on the way home. The Chiefs didn’t forget about it, either, mockingly playing the nursery rhyme, “The Wheels on the Bus,” as the final seconds ticked away in the blowout.
“That’s pretty disrespectful,” said the Chiefs’ Mike Hughes, who forced two of the fumbles and returned another one 23 yards for a score. “I’m glad we jumped on them the way we did.”
The Raiders began the season with three straight wins, and they were still 5-2 through Week 7. But problems had already begun to mount: Jon Gruden stepped down as coach in disgrace in early October, then young wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was arrested and then cut following a fatal drunk-driving crash in early November.
The Raiders lost to the Giants, were blown out by Kansas City at their new stadium and didn’t put up much of a challenge against Cincinnati. And after somehow beating Dallas, they’ve dropped two more to Washington and the Chiefs.
“They’re going through a tough time right now and Rich is doing the best Rich can do, keeping everything together,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “They’re all busting their tails to do the right thing, but it’s a tough situation.”
It doesn’t help that all the off-the-field discord has been compounded by injuries. The Raiders put running back Kenyan Drake and linebacker Nick Kiwatkoski on injured reserve this week; tight end Darren Waller was a late scratch with knee and back problems; and linebacker Denzel Perryman was inactive with an ankle injury.
Defensive back Trayvon Mullen returned from a toe injury for the first time since Week 4, but he was relentlessly picked on by Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes before leaving in the second half with an injury.
By that point, everyone on the Las Vegas sideline had some injured pride.
“Sometimes it’s just one of those days, and they played really well,” Renfrow said. “I don’t know if it was must win, but we felt like we needed to win it for sure to get into the playoffs. You don’t want to get emotional going out there — you can play with emotion, that’s OK — but we were a little emotional and went out there and stomped on our own foot.”
(Corrects to nursery in 12th paragraph)