Programming note: Tony Sparano is scheduled to address the media at 2 p.m. this evening. Watch the live stream right here.
OAKLAND – The Raiders finally won a game, a 24-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs that was equal parts joy and relief. The performance wasn’t perfect. The Raiders squandered a lead and, outside a game-winning fourth-quarter drive, the passing game struggled as usual.
Let’s discuss a few issues without being a total buzzkill.
1. Excessive celebration: Sio Moore made a huge play certainly worthy of celebration. The Raiders outside linebacker sacked Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith on 3rd-and-6 with a minute left in the third quarter, and followed with a sprint downfield, some foot stomps and chest pounds.
The problem: Sio got lost in celebration and forgot the situation. He and rookie Khalil Mack continued a coordinated slap routine while Smith was lining up for a fourth-down play.
Moore and Mack would’ve been called offsides. That wasn’t the problem. Offsides is essentially a free play, and the Chiefs offense was playing 11-on-9. Justin Tuck wisely called a timeout and saved the Raiders real embarrassment.
The Raiders went on to win, or it would’ve been a real disaster.
Mack thought victory would cover up the mistake – “Nobody cares about that play anymore” -- but it’s been played on constant loops on national highlight shows and the internet.
“I’ve never seen anyone celebrate for 40 seconds,” free safety Charles Woodson said. “I’m so glad Justin called a timeout. It would’ve been a disaster if he didn’t. As I told Sio, he’s lucky we got the win.”
Woodson and Tuck gave Mack had a light-hearted yet, stern scolding in the locker room. A repentant Moore, however, came up with a comic retort.
“You know how they say to act like you’ve been there before?” Moore said with a big laugh. “I haven’t!
2. Old guard can’t produce: The Raiders offense hit a lull after Latavius Murray – he of the 112 yards and two touchdowns on four carries – was concussed. The Raiders went back to Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew, who combined for 28 yards on 15 carries and a 1.87 yards-per-carry average.
The Raiders struggled to score and the Chiefs got back in the game. If not for the decision to go with Marcel Reece as a primary tailback, the Raiders might not have won this game.
3. Coverage team miscues: The tide turned with two Chiefs touchdowns and a field goal on consecutive drives, a 17-point swing aided by terrific field position. Kansas City started on their own 40 on the first drive, their own 35 on the next and the Raiders’ 37 on a drive that resulted in a 25-yard field goal.
That happened because the Raiders allowed Knile Davis to return a kickoff 46 yards, and then Frankie Hammond returned a punt 20 yards to put the Chiefs in a good spot. He returned the next punt 28 yards, which set up a field goal drive to put the Chiefs ahead.
The Raiders defense was playing well, but special teams put them at a huge disadvantage.