It didn’t just look like the worst game of Derek Carr’s career, it literally was. It was the fewest yards he had ever thrown for (117) in a complete game, his lowest completion percentage (41%), and his worst ever passer rating (49.1). I can also literally count on one hand the number of well thrown completions he threw in this game. There were exactly five. All others were not on-target or were simple dump passes. His receivers had some bad drops, but we’ll get to those, trust me.
Of the seven possessions in the first half, three of them ended by way of a Carr mistake. The third possession ended with Carr rushing a low and wide throw to a well-covered Mychal Rivera that fell incomplete. The next one he scrambled for two yards on third and three. The next one he rushed his throw again for no reason, missing Amari Cooper who had found a soft spot in the zone, and Seth Roberts who was breaking open on a post route, and opting for a dump pass to Jamize Olawale for 8 yards on third and 15.
Two of his five good completions came on the final drive of the second quarter, helping to lead to the Raiders’ only touchdown of the day on a one-yard run by Latavius Murray following a pass interference penalty.
Two turnovers to start the third quarter, both giving the Raiders the ball in Chiefs territory, resulted in just three points, because of the offense’s inability to take advantage. The first series ended with a three-and-out with Carr overthrowing a well-covered Seth Roberts. They settled for a field goal.
After the second turnover, Carr misses a wide open Amari Cooper, who ran a nice route underneath, and instead Carr went deep to Rivera who was absolutely not open. He missed his best receiver wide open with open field in front of him to throw for his tight end who had a defender all over him.
A Murray run kept the drive going, but a pass behind Jalen Richard, a screen pass for no gain to Michael Crabtree, and an off-target incompletion to Roberts in which he locked onto Roberts without every scanning the right side of the field, ended that series. A bad snap on the field goal try wasted the possession off the turnover completely.
The next three possessions ended with bad passes from Carr. He threw too high for Crabtree on third and 9, incomplete to Richard who was shadowed by a linebacker underneath for the first two. The third featured two passes behind his receiver, and ended with the weird pass that seemed to get snatched in the air by cold hand of death on its way to a wide open Amari Cooper.
The final drive featured one good pass from Carr that went for 13 yards to Seth Roberts on a shallow cross. But it ended on two poor decisions by Carr. On third and one – a play in which they never should have been throwing the ball at all – Carr threw a fade route to Andre Holmes (the team’s number four receiver) with Marcus Peters (the Chiefs Pro Bowl, number one corner) in coverage. Peters knocked it down to put the Raiders in fourth and one for the game.
A false start made it fourth and 6 and with it being an obvious passing situation, Carr locked onto Seth Roberts (again) out left, threw it up high, and had it batted down by Terrance Mitchell. Game over.
In a game with the temperature in the teens and Latavius Murray and company picking up yards on the ground seemingly at will, and with it one score away through most of the second half there was no reason whatsoever to have the Raiders lining up to pass 42 times and running it 30 times. Every time there was a successful fun, the Raiders would immediately abandon it. This despite Carr struggling more than he ever has in frigid temperatures with a recently injured pinky finger. Sometimes you go with the hot hand. That hot hand was Latavius Murray, whose big breakout game was the reason the Raiders beat the Chiefs in 2014. That was the last time they beat the Chiefs.
This brings me to that fateful third and one play. Some have suggested that perhaps it was Derek Carr who changed the play at the line. I saw no definitive evidence of that, so we have to assume it was the call from the booth. There was no play action, no secondary option. That ball was going to Andre Holmes the whole way.
Some have suggested that it’s not fair to criticize the play because it has worked in the past. That doesn’t fly. Not in third and one, not when the run was working so well, not with Derek Carr struggling so mightily, not on such an absolutely crucial play, not in such a crucial match-up for division and playoff implications, not to your number four receiver guarded by a Pro Bowl corner. For those of you who have heard this from me already, sorry. This is where fingers are pointed for terrible decisions. And now we can move on.
The Chiefs must have thought Amerson looked colder than most players in this game because they roasted him like a marshmallow. The first completion of the day was Amerson giving up a 39-yarder to Chris Conley. It was Alex Smith sending a message that he can and will go deep.
The next series, Amerson gave a big cushion to tight end Travis Kelce – perhaps because of how badly he was burnt on the first drive – and gave up a 15-yard catch on third and five.
The third series began with Amerson giving up a 16-yard catch and ended with him getting torched by Tyreek Hill for a 36-yard touchdown.
The next drive, Amerson was victimized for a 31-yard catch that put the Chiefs at the Oakland 25-yard-line and they scored the touchdown three plays later.
Alex Smith had 200 yards passing by half time. Over half of those yards (101) were courtesy of Amerson. In most weeks that would be Top Buster territory. But this week even a hideous performance like this just blends in.
You could say that King’s play alone was a 10-point swing in this game. Usually when we say that, it would be a swing the Raiders’ way. Not this time. This may be his worst game since his rookie season, perhaps worst ever.
His first punt went just 36 yards to the Kansas City 38-yard line, but was muffed return man Tyreek Hill and recovered by the Raiders. But Tyreek Hill would get the better of this match-up. Late in the second quarter, with the Raiders down 14-3, King launched a gift wrapped touchdown to Hill. With the entire coverage team headed to the left, King’s punt went to the middle of the field, leaving the right side of the field open for Hill, who returned it 78 yards -- including juking King along the way -- for the touchdown.
The defense to start the third quarter came up with two turnovers to get the Raiders back within a score and set them up to get even closer. Both led to the team setting up for a field goal. The second one, Jon Condo’s snap was high and King bobbled it trying to get it placed before opting to try to run with it instead. He was tackled well short of the yardage needed and the Raiders were held without a score.
In the fourth quarter, with the Raiders in need of some solid field position, he punted one 37 yards to the Chiefs 35-yard-line, where it was returned 15 yards to the 50-yard-line. That’s a net 22 yards. The Raiders could have done better on a long interception.
Even with the defense making the stop for a three-and-out, the Raiders offense would start their final drive at their own 15-yard-line, needing to go 85 yards to try and tie the game. That’s not the kind of field position they were looking for late in this game. And a 10-point swing in a game lost by 8 points…well that’s simple math right there. Even if you put all the blame for the botched field goal attempt on Condo, that’s still a 7-point swing with the Raiders having driven into field goal range late.
Derek Carr was sacked once in this game. And it was caused by Austin Howard getting beat by Justin Houston around the edge which had Carr escape that pressure only to run into a sack. That’s not really why Howard is here, though.
On the final drive, Howard was beaten around the edge again by Howard, who hit Carr as he threw, resulting in an incompletion. That is also not entirely why Howard is among the Ballers.
There is one final excuse I’ve seen as to why Musgrave and Carr thought is a good idea to throw to Holmes in the end zone on that final third and one play. That excuse is that they figured it was four-down territory, so they took a shot. And if it didn’t work, they could always run for the first down on fourth and one. What happened next only compounded the stupidity of that decision.
In fourth and one, Austin Howard flinched and was called for a false start. That took that fourth and one and made it fourth and six. It took a very plausible conversion in short yardage and made it an obvious pass play in third and long. It became proof that you take the first down when it’s there to be taken because you never know what could happen. Austin Howard happened.
Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper, Seth Roberts
There were a few times, Derek Carr did throw on-target to his receivers outside of the five well thrown completions he had. Those passes were dropped.
Crabtree dropped Carr’s pass to him on the first third down of the game, leading to a punt. Cooper caught a 5-yard pass on third and five, but followed it up with a drop that was nearly ruled a fumble except for the fact that he never actually gain control of it. Roberts dropped the next third down pass, resulting in the team settling for a field goal off of the muffed punt. That’s two completions and three drops in the first six passes.
Crabtree added another drop to his league-leading drop total to start out the second quarter. It helped lead to a three-and-out. He caught 4 passes for just 21 yards. One of those passes was behind the line of scrimmage on a screen attempt that went for no gain.
Roberts started out the third quarter with a drop. It was the first play off of a turnover, leading to another wasted opportunity. Roberts would finish with 2 catches on 9 targets. One of those catches was for a loss of one. That had to be the one he actually catches (eye roll).
Then there was that weird instance where Amari Cooper got a step on his defender only to lose track of the ball or something and watched it fall in front of him. That play looked like a sure touchdown and I don’t think we’ll ever really know what happened. Cooper led the team with 5 catches on 10 targets for a whopping 29 yards.