If the walls could talk . . . but wait. They can talk, and in the visiting coaches booth at the Coliseum, directly adjacent to the press box, the Kansas City Chiefs coaches explained Sunday’s 34-20 win over the Oakland Raiders in the most compelling and succinct way possible – by offering play-by-play on the first of Derek Carr’s three fourth quarter interceptions.
“GO! GO! GO!” they shrieked while some of them pounded maniacally on the sturdiest windows in Christendom. “GO! GO! GO G—DAMN IT! GO! GO! GO! F--- YOU!”
We’re not sure why that last oath was needed; maybe it was just a way of punctuating the turning of a game the Raiders had in hand into the steaming compost heap it became.
But it was a statement that explained how the Raiders went from coquettish outsiders in the AFC playoff race to very outsiders. A taut game between two teams that need to back-door their way into a postseason spot became a stunning testimonial to how much further the Raiders and their precocious quarterback must still travel.
Put another way, the coaches’ booth windows held firmer than the Raiders did – proof positive that (a) going from moribund to meaningful does not happen overnight, and (b) the Coliseum will not go down without a fight.
This was not Carr’s finest moment, not by a furlong. He both failed too often to take advantage of short fields in the first half, and the three picks in the fourth quarter were game murderers, as they each led to touchdowns that took a 20-14 lead and made it a two-touchdown loss.
[RELATED: Instant Replay: Carr crumbles, Raiders fall on late picks]
And as he broke them down with clinical if morose precision, one could hear those Kansas City coaches, fueled by imported barbecue, raining Midwestern joy and invective down upon the events below.
“Sometimes those things are just gonna happen,” he said. “It just sucked that it happened all back-to-back like that.
“The first one (on a second-and-10 at the Kansas City 33), I was just trying to make a play. Seth (Roberts) popped wide open, did a great job, and I was going to throw it to him and I got hit when I went to throw. The second one (on a second-and-10 at the Chiefs 49), Michael Crabtree’s feet just tangled up. I threw the ball on time when I usually do and they were playing man coverage and the dude who wasn’t covering him (Marcus Peters) just caught it.”
Or, as head coach Jack Del Rio put it, “That was a crosser who got his feet tangled up and got knocked down on the play so he stopped crossing.”
“And the third was one to Amari (Cooper). We were just down, trying to make a throw in there . . . and it just happened to get tipped up.”
In short, he got hit on the first one, which was seized by linebacker Josh Mauga and returned to the Oakland 2, and two plays later Alex Smith hit Jeremy Maclin with the touchdown that tied the game at 20. His receiver fell on the second one, Peters returned it to the Oakland 13, and Smith hit Maclin two plays later to make it 26-20. The third got tipped right into former Raider Tyvon Branch, who returned it 38 yards for the death blow. In all, 164 yards in interception return yardage, more than accounted for by any other single player save Carr when he was throwing to his own players.
“We were treating this as our playoffs, we needed to win,” designated sage Charles Woodson said afterward. “Basically we needed to win out. For us, it was that playoff atmosphere, it was a rival, it was the Chiefs. I felt we were building on something and it felt like we were going to get this win today, so it was tough . . . to look up at the scoreboard when everything is so promising early and then all of a sudden it looks lopsided when you look up at the end. It’s a hard one.”
How hard? The Raiders are now two games back in the AFC wild-card race, with games still pending at Denver, home against Green Bay and San Diego and at Kansas City. That and their present record give them a less than one percent chance of making the playoffs at all, let alone doing any damage in same. This was, in short, as close to a death blow as the Raiders can endure without actually being finished.
On the other hand, this game has typically happened significantly earlier in almost all the prior 13 seasons, and as bad as Carr was, he still gives the Raiders a shinier future than they have known in years – even if, as you’ll allow us an unjustifiably and completely snide one, he seems like a poor man’s Blaine Gabbert today.
In the meantime, the walls echo not with his epitaph, or Del Rio’s, or Woodson’s, but the profane glee of the Chiefs’ coaches. They get the last word . . . at least until the last game of the year, when they’ll likely know their own team’s fate.