Three times Chiefs turnovers set up the Raiders with a short field.
That should have spelled doom for the Chiefs, but this is where they excel, and it became a major factor in their 21-13 victory on Thursday.
From those three possessions, the Raiders scored on a pair of field goals. That’s six points for three possessions when the Chiefs’ backs were to the wall.
“We did our jobs, individually,” Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford said.
The game started with a muffed punt by Chiefs return man Tyreek Hill. The Raiders took over at the Chiefs’ 38, moved 12 yards and got a field goal.
The second half could not have started better for the Raiders. The Chiefs took the second half kickoff, but on the second play, Alex Smith’s pass intended for Jeremy Maclin was picked off by cornerback T.J. Carrie and returned 14 yards to the Chiefs’ 18.
But the Raiders couldn’t collect a first down and settled for Sebastian Janikowski’s 33-yard field goal to cut the deficit to eight.
The Chiefs got it back, and on the first play another disaster. Smith was hit from behind by Khalil Mack, who stripped the ball away. The Raiders recovered and were in business once again deep in Chiefs territory.
But once again, the defense rose to the occasion. The Raiders started at the 18 and moved to the Chiefs’ 7. A holding penalty was a drive killer and forced another field goal attempt. But this time, holder Marquette King couldn’t control the snap and the boot was never attempted.
Special teams were a problem all night for the Raiders, but the Chiefs deserve credit here for denying touchdowns when the Raiders had golden opportunities.
“This isn’t a shocking development for the Chiefs, who entered the game ranked sixth in the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage defense. Opponents had gotten touchdowns on 48.8 percent of the trips to the 20.
“Everything is fast in the red zone,” Ford said. “It’s quick. If everybody does their job and makes the plays their supposed to make, this is what happens.”
The final red zone denial came as the game was winding down. The Chiefs couldn’t extend their eight-point lead and the Raiders drove from their 15 to the Chiefs’ 14.
About two minutes remained when the Raiders faced a third-and-1 at the 14. Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters turned in one of the best defensive plays of the game, leaping high to get a hand on Derek Carr’s floater to the corner of the end zone, breaking up the pass intended for Andre Holmes.
The Raiders’ fourth down call was complicated by a false-start penalty. This time, Carr didn’t test Peters. He went after Terrance Mitchell, the third-year pro who was playing in his fourth game for the Chiefs.
Mitchell came up big here, breaking up the pass intended for Seth Roberts.
On a frigid evening, the Chiefs surrendered 244 total yards and held Carr to 117 yards on 17-of-41 passing. They played the second half without their veteran leader Derrick Johnson, who suffered an Achilles injury.
But the Chiefs came up big defensively several times, especially when the Raiders closed in on the end zone.