KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If it seemed during the Raiders’ 40-9 loss on Sunday that the Chiefs had a read on exactly what Oakland was about to do, it’s because they did.
Throughout the course of the dominating victory that solidified the Chiefs’ spot atop the AFC West, the Raiders made costly mistakes in critical situations that allowed Kansas City to maintain control of the game.
It started on the first drive, when quarterback Derek Carr — who has performed poorly at Arrowhead Stadium — tossed an interception to safety Tyrann Mathieu.
On second and 12 from the Raiders 34, Mathieu initially dropped into deep coverage. But when it was clear what route tight end Darren Waller was running, Mathieu freelanced a bit to come up with the pick.
“If we were able to understand the formation presnap, it would put us in position to make a play,” Mathieu said. “But I think Derek, he’s going to try his best to protect the football. So tight ends, running backs, checkdowns — that’s kind of his game. So I was glad we were able to capitalize on him when we did.”
Mathieu said his knowledge of what was coming came from how much Raiders film he watched during the week.
“Yeah, I just watch a lot of tape, man,” Mathieu said. “And once I see something — I just see it. Sometimes I make it, sometimes I don’t. That’s why you’ve gotta see where I’m at at all times.”
In his postgame news conference, Carr inadvertently talked about the predictability that Mathieu mentioned. “In that type of coverage, I think I’ve completed that ball to Darren a lot this year,” he said.
Chiefs rookie cornerback Juan Thornhill expressed a similar sentiment when describing what he saw on his pick six in the second quarter. On second and 8 from the Raiders 40, Thornhill recognized wide receiver Tyrell Williams was making an inside move and jumped the route to secure the interception in the middle of the field. Thornhill then used his speed to make his way to the end zone to put the Raiders down by three touchdowns.
“Honestly, it was just study — it was study all week,” Thornhill said.
Carr’s struggles at this particular venue have been well documented. Still, Thornhill said the Chiefs weren’t necessarily focused on that in their preparation for this game. “I really didn’t pay attention to that,” Thornhill said.
That worked well enough for the Chiefs. The defense kept the Raiders from scoring a touchdown until there were just 39 seconds left. While Oakland finished with 332 offensive yards, Carr had just one completion to a wide receiver through three quarters — an 8-yarder to Zay Jones.
With the Raiders at 6-6, there’s clearly a lot of progress still to be made following a pair of blowout losses. According to the Chiefs, one improvement must be crafting more tendency breakers so that opposing teams don’t take advantage of seeing on game day exactly what they’ve studied during the week.