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Raiders fumble away game that looked ‘eerily similar’ to big home win over Chiefs last season

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The Raiders showed up for their rivalry with the Chiefs to make for another thriller in Oakland.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There wasn’t much to celebrate for the Raiders in 2017. There is even less to celebrate this season. And yet when a tough Chiefs come to town, it’s a fight to the finish.

Sunday the Raiders welcomed the Chiefs who are among the league’s best teams. They were 9-2, a mirror image of the Raiders at 2-9. They have the league’s top scoring offense, a certified MVP candidate in Patrick Mahomes, and high powered weapons all over the field. Facing a Raiders team that has been rarely competitive all season, beating just the lowly Browns and Cardinals.

Yet, no matter how these teams seem to be on two ends of the spectrum, the game was competitive right to the end.

This time the Raiders fell short, losing 40-33 in a game that felt very like a bit of deja vu.

These two teams met each other in Oakland in week 7 last season with the Chiefs at 5-1 and the Raiders at 2-4. That time the Raiders came out on top, winning on that untimed touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Michael Crabtree to win it 31-30.

“In my mind, there was no doubt that we were going to win. It did feel eerily similar. I think to all of us it did,” Carr said of this game compared to last year in Oakland. “Great game. Give credit to the Chiefs. They’re really good. We play the chiefs a lot of times and they have one heck of a team this year. It did feel similar in some [respects], but I don’t like this side of it. I’ll tell you that.”

So, what was the difference? Turnovers.

Three times in this game the Raiders put the ball on the ground — one by each of the Raiders three running backs in each of the first three quarters.

Doug Martin had the first fumble. It came with the Raiders down 7-0 and close to midfield. The Chiefs took advantage and drove for a field goal to take a 10-0 lead.

The Chiefs would keep that 10-0 lead in the second quarter and the Raiders went on a drive. They reached the 28-yard-line, looking to pull to within one score. And fumbled it away.

Again, the Chiefs would get the ball off the turnover and drive for a field goal to take a 13-0 lead.

With that field goal, the two teams could go on six consecutive scoring drives.

With the Chiefs holding onto a 26-16 lead in the third quarter, the streak of combined scoring drives would be snapped when the Raiders defense stopped the Chiefs for a three-and-out. The Raiders offense would have a chance to again make it a one-score game. And on first down, Jalen Richard had a brilliant 17-yard run, only to fumble it away.

Just as the Chiefs had done with the first two fumbles, they took possession and drove for a score. And they took a 33-16 lead into the fourth quarter.

In most games this season, a 33-16 score would be game over. Even against bad teams. But this is not most games.

On consecutive drives, the Raiders would drive for a touchdown. In between, the defense made a stop and the game got real interesting as the Raiders were suddenly down just three points, 33-30 with 6:46 remaining. That’s when Jared Cook really saw the game playing out like last season.

“I’m thinking especially when we were down by three I’m thinking like ‘If we hold them to a field goal, we can go down and get some points and win the game,” said Cook. “I’m thinking this is just like last year’s Kansas City game.”

There would be no stop to hold them to a field. From there, the Chiefs did what they’ve been doing much of the season; they drove 75 yards on ten plays for a touchdown. The Raiders also did they have done all season — gave up a big catch to the tight end. Travis Kelce caught a 25-yard pass to set up the touchdown. It was Kelce’s 12th catch in the game on 12 targets for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Down 40-30 with just 1:54 remaining, the Raiders needed a wing and a prayer to have any hope of pulling it out. Had it been a one-score game, they would have had a real shot to do just what they did last season — drive down the field for a game-winning touchdown. But they gave that away on their third fumble.

“It’s a good team, a good physical team. They go for the ball,” Doug Martin said of the Chiefs defense. “When they saw one person fumble the ball, they smelled blood. They just kept getting the ball.”

Also just like that thriller last season, the previously stagnant Raiders offense came to life. Jared Cook led the way with 100 yards and a touchdown on 7 catches. It was the best he could do to match what Kelce was doing on the other side.

“You know what, after three turnovers today, I feel like we gave ourselves still a position to win the game. We were minus two in the turnover battle and that kinda hurt us, but you saw a lot of resilience in this team just to keep fighting and just to keep putting points on the board. And after a game like that, to give yourself a chance to win it at the end... that’s a good team we just lost to, so you gotta give respect to the guys in this room that helped us stay in.”

Jordy Nelson rebounded from a one target, zero catch game last week to catch ten passes for 97 yards, which is more catches and yards than he had in his last six game combined. Last season it was Amari Cooper who exploded after a dismal first few games. Carr was making a point to get the ball to Nelson, who was fully healthy for the first time in three weeks.

“The night before the game, last night, Coach told us ‘hey, we have to get Jordy the ball and we have to let him win and give him the ball. He’s healthy and running good. To win this game, we have to give him the ball,’” Carr said. “So, whenever we had the match-up, we were able to check things and go through progressions to get him the ball. It was good to have him back.”

Carr’s 285 yards passing were his most since week four and he threw for three touchdowns for just the third time this season. He was sacked three times.

On the other side, Patrick Mahomes threw four touchdowns to give him 41 on the season. He completed 23 passes for 295 yards and led the Chiefs with 9 carries for 52 yards. The Raiders were unable to sack him, but did get some good pressure at times.

But as Carr said, the Raiders came out on the other end of the rivalry this year. They dropped to 2-10 on the season, while the Chiefs improved to 10-2.