Is it time to take Jon Gruden's Raiders seriously?
Thirty-seven games in Jon Gruden's second term as head coach, the Las Vegas Raiders have achieved a signature win.
Las Vegas defeated reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, 40-32 at Arrowhead Stadium. The game was tied between 24 and 24 early in the fourth quarter when Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' offensive continued to thrill. But there would be no comeback this Sunday.
The Vegas win ended an almost eight-year losing streak at Arrowhead on October 28, 2012, and the Raiders had scored a total of 12 points in their last two trips there. It also ended a streak of five straight defeats to the AFC West cohort, with Las Vegas losing ten of its last eleven total games to Kansas City. The Chiefs lost for the first time in 336 days since November 10th when they fell to the Tennessee Titans.
"It's about time," said Raiders quarterback Derek Carr after the game with CBS's Evan Washburn. "I had a lot of painful memories of this place. A lot of pain. Not this time. It feels good. The defending champions are the best team in football and we could fight with them. It was a damn good game for us. I did had a couple of kids since we won here. It feels good. "
Carr was a junior in Fresno State the last time the Raiders won in Kansas City.
Assuming the NFL season's wobbly wheels don't completely fall off due to COVID-19, there are still a few ways to go, and that by no means means the Chiefs are no longer in control of the division. But they certainly didn't look invincible like they had in Baltimore two weeks ago.
Thanks to the Raiders: They knew they had to build a crime that could go country to country with the Chiefs if they wanted to fight for AFC West, and at least on Sunday it looked like they did .
Las Vegas had a total of almost 500 meters attack in 67 games. Against Mahomes, the most important thing is not to let him have the ball, and by converting half of 14 third down attempts and both fourth down attempts, including a crucial quarter and inch with two minutes of play, he did so This created a critical 10-minute lead in possession time for the Raiders.
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr passes the ball to Devontae Booker. (Jamie Squire / Getty Images)
Carr completed 21 of 32 passes for 347 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in the first quarter, his first multi-touchdown game at Arrowhead. He started the day with four TDs and seven picks in six career games.
Big reason for his big day: rookie recipient Henry Ruggs III. After missing the last two games with leg injuries, the first-round draft pick had two catches for 118 yards and his first career touchdown.
Gruden and Carr weren't in third and second place of their own 28 and weren't conservative. Carr threw deep for Ruggs, who had a healthy step into Charvarius Ward's corner as he caught the ball and then retired for a 72-yard score.
Can't Miss Play: Ruggs III passes everyone with a 72 yard TD bomb
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr completes the 72-yard touchdown pass for wide receiver Henry Ruggs III. This game will be streamed live on the Yahoo Sports mobile app or on NFL.com
Ruggs 'first catch was a 46-yarder in third and tenth place in the opening quarter, leading to the Raiders' first points, a field goal.
Just as important as their offensive performance, however, was the defense of the Raiders in the second half. The group finished Kansas City 5-0 after allowing 6-9 conversions in the first half.
Veteran safety Jeff Heath essentially sealed the win, intercepting Mahomes with a fourth pass for Travis Kelce at 5:44. Mahomes brought Heath down just short of the goal line, leaving Josh Jacobs in the sophomore season to bring him in from the 2 and putting Vegas 40-24 ahead.
The defense allowed a big win in fourth and fifth places when the Chiefs got the ball back, resulting in a touchdown that kept Kansas City in play, but the Raiders switched to a 4-minute offensive, got fourth relegation and with the Chiefs out of timeouts could kill the clock.
There was never a thought to poke: "Not with '15' [Mahomes] over there," Gruden said after the win.
Gruden was repeatedly criticized by this author, as team owner Mark Davis lured him out of the confines of the ESPN broadcasting booth with a massive contract and basically a charter to run the franchise the way he wanted it to be. From the Khalil Mack deal to the disaster Antonio Brown's time with the team was, his return to coaching wasn't a storybook or textbook.
There will still be a debate about the Mack trade - although with four sacks in five games, the sophomore rusher, Maxx Crosby, could be a rising star - but the players drafted with the picks received in that deal , caught on early on. Jacobs, a first rounder in 2019, rushed for 1,150 yards in 13 games last season, and this year's first round player, cornerback Damon Arnette, started the first three games of the season before an injury in week 3. Same goes for 2020 as third . Round pick Bryan Edwards, who had five catches in his first three games from an ankle injury two weeks ago.
If the Raiders can continue to score tough victories, as they did on Sunday, criticism of Gruden will be a thing of the past.
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