Three-and-a-half months after the regular season kicked off on Monday Night football in Oakland, the 2018 season ended for Head Coach Jon Gruden and his team, Sunday afternoon as his squad fell to the Kansas City Chiefs 35-3 at Arrowhead Stadium.
In a game that the Chiefs had to have to secure the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC headed into the postseason tournament, Andy Reid’s team, Kansas City looked like one of the premier teams in the NFL, and unfortunately the Raiders just didn’t have much of an answer.
After the Raiders won the toss and deferred to the second half, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs didn’t waste much time in showing off their high-flying offense, as the likely 2018 NFL MVP connected with Tyreek Hill on a 67-yard bomb on the opening drive of the afternoon.
The early score gave the Chiefs a 7-0 lead, and minutes later, after Daniel Sorenson took a Derek Carr pass intended for Jared Cook 54 yards to the house, the Raiders very quickly found themselves down 14-0 in the first quarter.
Before halftime hit, that lead had ballooned to 21-3, and the second half unfortunately bore similar results for the Silver and Black.
As was the case when the two AFC West rivals met up in Oakland in Week 13, turnovers proved costly for the Raiders. In the first half alone, the Silver and Black gave the ball back to the Chiefs four times, which resulted in 14 points, and against a team that puts up points in a hurry like Kansas City does, self-inflicted wounds can be costly.
Such was the case for the Raiders in their regular season finale.
The Raiders were never really in striking distance of the Chiefs once the second half got underway, and Patrick Mahomes actually ceded the quarterbacking duties to Chad Henne with his team up 35-3 halfway through the final frame.
Sunday afternoon was a rough one for the Silver and Black; there’s no denying that.
Offensively, the Raiders struggled to find a rhythm, and defensively – while Mahomes didn’t have the type of world-beating outing that he’s delivered for much of 2018 – the lead that the Chiefs built up in the first half was just too big of a hurdle for the Raiders to climb.
In a losing effort, Derek Carr finished his final game of 2018 23 of 32 for 184 yards and two interceptions.
That said, if you’re looking for a positive takeaway from Sunday’s Week 17 loss – which I know is a challenge – the Raiders special teams unit really enjoyed a quality day at work. Not only did Johnny Townsend pin a punt inside the one-yard line, but Daniel Carlson kept his scalding, hot streak going, connecting on yet another 50-yard attempt.
In a season where bright spots have admittedly been hard to come by, the rookie kicker from Auburn has not only been better than advertised but provided some much-needed stability on the Silver and Black’s special teams battery.
But, alas, regardless of the individual efforts put forth by Townsend and Carlson, the Raiders ended the season in the loss column, and will head into the offseason with a plethora of needs to address headed into 2019.
The Raiders will fly back to Northern California this evening, and then hold their final media availability of the year tomorrow morning.
Coach Gruden is scheduled is to address the media Monday afternoon at 1:00 PM PT.
The Silver and Black finish the 2018 campaign with a 4-12 record, and will have three, first-round selections in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Gameday Photos: Week 17 at Chiefs
Photos of the game action during the Raiders' Week 17 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.