The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs have found a renewed rival in the Las Vegas Raiders. The two franchises go back decades as rivals, but in recent years as the Chiefs ascended to being one of the best teams in the league, the Raiders struggled to stay relevant.
This season, things are different. The Chiefs are great, but the Raiders are at least catching up.
Heading into their Week 11 matchup, the Raiders were the only team to have beaten the Chiefs this season, but Kansas City got its revenge on "Sunday Night Football."
The high-scoring affair ended 35-31 for the Chiefs, as Kansas City moved to 9-1 on the season and the Raiders fell to 6-4.
5. The Raiders lack of practice showed
For the second time this season, the Raiders were decimated throughout the week due to COVID-19. A positive test to defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell forced a half-dozen of the Raiders' starting defenders to be put on the reserve/COVID-19 list and miss practice this week.
Safety Jonathan Abram and five other Raiders were activated Saturday, but the rust and lack of practice for Las Vegas’ defense was clear. The Raiders let up 14 points to the Chiefs in the first half, and 35 points overall.
4. Tight ends Waller and Kelce shine
With George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers missing most of the season with a foot injury, Sunday night’s game featured a matchup between arguably the two best tight ends in the NFL right now: Travis Kelce of the Chiefs and Darren Waller of the Raiders.
Both tight ends were the leading pass-catchers for their respective teams and the matchup lived up to the hype.
Kelce was used more creatively, even passing the ball once, and Waller was the lead option for Raiders QB Derek Carr all evening. But it was the Chiefs tight end who shined at the end of the game.
Waller finished with seven receptions for 88 yards, but Kelce totaled 127 yards and a game-winning touchdown.
3. Raiders' offensive line stands tall
With six minutes left in the second quarter, "Sunday Night Football" analyst Cris Collinsworth pointed out all the looks Derek Carr got on a single play.
“He looked from the right to the middle, to the left and back to the middle,” Collinsworth said. “That’s how much time Carr is getting right now”
The Las Vegas offensive line stood tall all game, protecting their quarterback and allowing Carr to stand in the pocket and read the Chiefs' defense, picking them apart for most of the first half.
2. Sunday night shootout
Twenty-one points by the end of the first quarter, 31 points at half. When the final seconds ticked off the clock, 66 points had been scored in the “Sunday Night Football” matchup. The seemingly only play either defense made in the first half was a Raiders interception (Patrick Mahomes' second of the year) with seconds remaining in the half.
Raiders QB Derek Carr started the game 11 of 11 and finished the game 23 of 31 for 275 yards and three touchdowns. Mahomes finished with 348 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Mahomes finished off the game, and moved the total points scored north of 60, with a game-winning touchdown strike to Travis Kelce in the final minute of the game. In a game that was supposed to feature two efficient offenses, neither disappointed.
1. Revenge game for the Chiefs
Coming into Sunday, the Raiders were the Chiefs' only loss on the season thus far. After Las Vegas topped Kansas City earlier this season, the Raiders, allegedly, took a bus victory lap around the stadium and Chiefs coach Andy Reid was not happy.
“They won the game so they can do anything they want to do” Reid told ESPN. “That’s not our style.”
So in Sunday night’s revenge game, tensions were already high. And in Week 11, unlike earlier this season, the reigning champs defended their crown.
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs celebrated on the sideline after a game-sealing interception, but it is unclear if they took a victory lap around the stadium after the game.