The Chiefs needed something good to happen. They had fallen behind the Raiders by a touchdown and couldn’t pick up a first down as fourth quarter started.
The Raiders were on the move, already in Sebastian Janikowski field goal range to take a two-score lead.
That’s when the Chiefs applied the pressure and turned around a game they’d go on to win 34-20.
The final score means the Chiefs have surpassed 30 points in four games of their six-game winning streak. But make no mistake, this was defense-created production, starting with the first of three interceptions and long returns in the fourth quarter.
Credit the first to three players, Tamba Hali, Dee Ford and Josh Mauga.
Hali’s pressure forced Raiders quarterback Derek Carr out of the pocket, Ford’s contact disrupted Carr’s throw that popped out of his hand and into the grasp of Mauga who rumbled 66 yards.
Had Mauga gone 68 yards he’d have had a touchdown.
“I just happened to be right there at the right spot, and the ball just fell into my hands, and the only thing on my mind was to just try to get as close to the goal line or even score,” Mauga said. “I was hoping I could score, but I ran out of gas. I definitely ran out of gas about 20 yards out.”
As the Chiefs punched in the touchdown, Mauga was getting oxygen on the sideline. He wouldn’t be the only Chiefs defender to expend energy on returns in the quarter.
Next up was cornerback Marcus Peters, the Oakland native playing at O.Co Coliseum for the first time. Before a bevy of family and friends, Peters gave them a highlight play when he picked off a Carr wobbler intended for Michael Crabtree, who had slipped, and returned it 58 yards.
The Chiefs weren’t finished.
Tyvon Branch made a wonderfully athletic play, collecting a ball that deflected off the hands of Raiders receiver Amari Cooper before it hit the turf. Branch headed toward the sideline and tightroped the final 5 of his 38 yards into the end zone for the put-away score.
“You hope stuff like that happens,” said Branch, a former Raider. “Today, I was blessed it happened to me.”
The Chiefs, who had six interceptions last season, had three in the fourth quarter with 162 returnyards. They entered the game second in the NFL with 14 interceptions, and Branch’s touchdown return was the team’s third returned for a touchdown this season.
“Tough way for us to finish,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “It got away from us. We turned the ball over and you can’t do that.”
Turnovers won the game for the Chiefs in the end. Stops kept it close earlier. In the second quarter, the Raiders were winning the field position battle but couldn’t take advantage. After scoring a touchdown on their first possession, the Raiders moved into Chiefs territory on their next five drives. They got no points from any of them.
“We had some short fields,” Carr said. “When you don’t punch the ball in or get points on short fields, that eats at you.
“But you’ve got to give them credit. They have a stingy front. They have really good corners. They’re really good on defense.”