It was a Monday night thriller at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.
Week 5’s edition of Monday Night Football featured the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the AFC West rival Las Vegas Raiders — and despite the three-win Chiefs taking on the one-win Raiders, it was everything you can ask for in a division game.
In the end, the Chiefs held on to beat the Raiders 30-29, improving to 4-1 on the season.
If there is one thing that is a sure bet regarding Tuesday morning, it is that folks will be discussing the second-quarter roughing-the-passer penalty called on Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones (watch the play and read about the situation here).
“The call” would be a much bigger deal in Kansas City had the Chiefs lost the football game, and I actually think there is a legitimate case to be made that the Arrowhead environment it created propelled the Chiefs to victory.
That being said, the NFL has a problem on its hands when it comes to these roughing-the-passer calls. A day earlier, officials cost the Atlanta Falcons a comeback try when they called such a penalty on defensive end Grady Jarrett as he sacked Tom Brady.
Both plays had viewers scratching their heads, wondering how defenders have any chance at sacking the quarterback. The NFL needs to change the official language of the penalty, and they need to change it this week — before Week 6 begins on Thursday night.
Travis Kelce’s first four-touchdown game… ever
Tight end Travis Kelce had the most scores he has ever had in a game on Monday, reaching the end zone four times.
Kelce scored three touchdowns one other time in his career, during the 2019 Divisional Round playoff game against the Houston Texans.
You remember that game, right?
Down 24-0, the Chiefs rallied back to win the first game of a playoff tournament that saw them as Super Bowl champions. Kelce’s third touchdown in that game gave the Chiefs a 28-24 lead — a lead that they never relinquished. Kelce’s third touchdown on Monday night gave the Chiefs a 24-20 lead — a lead that they never relinquished.
His fourth one sealed the deal in the fourth quarter.
Following Kelce’s second touchdown against the Raiders, he faked the goal-post dunk celebration that Tony Gonzalez made famous (Kelce knows that’s a penalty, one the Chiefs could not afford at the time).
Honestly, perhaps he should have just done it. At the age of 33 — which he reached just last Wednesday — Kelce is showing no signs of aging.
Gonzalez played four more seasons after the age of 33. The beauty of Kelce? He wants to do just that in Kansas City.
These Chiefs are just never out of it
The beginning sequence of Monday night’s game did not go Kansas City’s way. The Raiders, entering the game at 1-3, came to Arrowhead fighting for life in the division, and they did so with a good game plan.
Defensive end Maxx Crosby caused early havoc for the right side of the Chiefs’ offensive line. Meanwhile, the Raiders’ offense maximized the grand mismatch created by All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams while beating up the Chiefs with running back Josh Jacobs.
The plan worked well, and the Raiders followed to a 17-0 start and eventual 20-10 halftime lead. The penalty to Jones gave the home crowd life, which carried over into the third quarter.
Head coach Andy Reid called a balanced game plan that saw the Chiefs make the most of the running back tandem of Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire to create more manageable third downs. When they weren’t manageable, Mahomes built off a breakout effort against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to find wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who had his best game as a Chief. Wide receiver Mecole Hardman was more reliable than usual, too. Kelce, of course, took care of the red zone.
In the end, the Raiders gave the Chiefs everything they had — and it took everybody to secure the win. The defense did not handle the Raiders stars as well as it could have — and with the return of rookie Trent McDuffie expected this week, a very real conversation regarding the starters at cornerback needs to happen.
But in the end, winning by a point — and needing to keep the Raiders from scoring a field goal — the defense did its job.
The final word
Many times, division games are dogfights. Over the years, we’ve seen that to be the case in games against lesser Raiders and Denver Broncos teams.
In their win, the Chiefs improve to 43-13 in AFC West games since 2013, and 23-3 since Mahomes took over as the starter.
The reality is that winning in the division is no easy task — and that makes it even more amazing that Reid, Mahomes and company make it seem that way.