The Oakland Raiders wrapped up their 2015 season by taking on the Chiefs in Kansas City, looking to finish .500 at 8-8 for the first time since 2011.
Head coach Jack Del Rio deferred after winning the opening kickoff, as we have become so used to seeing. Unfortunately for the Raiders defense, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid scripted a perfect opening drive.
Veteran quarterback Alex Smith coordinated an eight-play drive that resulted in a touchdown. Reid put wide receiver Jeremy Maclin in the slot to go against the Raiders linebackers, burning them for a 25-yard touchdown and the early 7-0 lead for the Chiefs.
Second-year quarterback Derek Carr was unable to match on the Raiders first drive, being forced to punt.
The Chiefs offense continued to roll on their second drive, going another 87 yards in 13 plays and punching the ball in with running back Spencer Ware to put the Chiefs up 14-0 in the first quarter.
Raiders backup running back and kickoff return man Taiwan Jones has been close to breaking a big return over the last couple of weeks, and finally broke free on the ensuing kickoff. Jones bursted through the left side of the field 71 yards to give the Silver & Black a much-needed spark.
Starting with the ball on the 38-yard line, Carr and the offense still struggled to get anything going despite the great field position. Facing a 4th and 1, Del Rio elected to take the points with a 29-yard field goal to make it 14-to-3.
Cornerback TJ Carrie provided the next spark for the Raiders, intercepting Smith downfield to give the ball back to the Raiders.
But Carr would give it right back a few plays later. The Chiefs rushed just three players and Carr looked to find rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper in the end zone, but Ron Parker soared to make the interception in the end zone.
Mid-season pickup David Amerson wanted to make an impact too, reading Smith’s next throw perfectly and intercepting it and taking it into the end zone for a pick-six and making the score 14-to-10 heading into halftime. Amerson now has a career-high four interceptions on the season.
Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton revved up the pressure in the second half, getting a couple of sacks on Carr en route to a three-and-out. After coming close to the previous two punts, the Chiefs special teams came bursting through to block Marquette King’s punt and get the safety.
Reid didn’t take his foot off the pedal, driving down the field after the ensuing safety free kick and finding his backup tight end Demetrius Harris for the touchdown to take the 23-10 lead.
The Chiefs spent much of the fourth quarter running the clock out, but a holding penalty wiped off a Cairo Santos field goal that would have likely locked up the game. On the next play, a botched attempt gave the Raiders new life.
Carr quickly led the offense down the field for their first touchdown of the game, finding his veteran wide receiver Michael Crabtree for the 31-yard touchdown to make it 23-17 with just over two minutes left.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski had never had a successful onside kick coming into the game, and that continued the streak as the Chiefs recovered.
But the Raiders defense would hold, forcing a three-and-out and giving the ball back to Carr at the 11-yard line with just 1:34 remaining on the clock.
Unfortunately Carr would run out of time after finding tight end Mychal Rivera, as the clock wound down on their season with a 23-17 loss in Kansas City, and their record falling to 7-9.