Surprise the Chiefs in Kansas City, the Raiders signed the most important victory of the Jon Gruden era, nothing less.
When an underdog team triumph over a big club like the Raiders did when knocking down the Chiefs 40-32, it’s often easy to overstate the impact of that victory. In this specific case, it is indeed a milestone for the program mounted by Gruden, since his return to the sidelines in 2018, after nine years in his analyst chair.
Since Gruden returned, the Raiders have undergone a major overhaul of their squad, swapping a few star players to rack up draft picks. At the start, after an inaugural season that ended with a 4-12 record, many raised eyebrows and questioned the coach’s approach. Last year that record dropped to 7-9. Something to sow a bit of hope, but not enough to confuse the Raiders with serious contenders. This victory against the Chiefs does not make a season, but it changes perceptions. The Raiders now have the weapons to thunder against the bigger guns.
Of the core elements that Gruden chose to leave in place, Derek Carr has often been among the most contested. If he consistently has good statistics, the Raiders quarterback has built a reputation as a player allergic to risk.
Any team knows that to have any chance against the Chiefs, you have to score a lot of points. From this premise, Carr attacked the defending champions at will, without the slightest complex. To beat the Chiefs, consider scoring at least 35 points. Impossible to play the trap against them.
The Raiders have claimed just one play over 40 yards so far this fall. On his own, Carr completed four passing games that atomized that distance in the victory over the Chiefs.
The return of rookie catcher Henry Ruggs, an unparalleled speed trader, clearly helped him come out of his shell. Ruggs caught two passes for 118 yards, including one touchdown on a 72-yard bomb. It was, incidentally, the longest aerial gain for the Raiders since 2017, when Carr joined exile Amari Cooper with an 87-yard pass.
The Chiefs, defensively, clearly did not respect the vertical potential of the Raiders’ offense, a big mistake.
A RARE EXPLOIT
The Raiders therefore exorcised their demons in a brilliant way by imposing on the defending champions their first loss since November 10, 2019. The Chiefs were however established as favorites by 11 points, by the bookmakers.
The Gruden gang scored their first victory in Kansas City since 2012. Facing the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, Carr was in all kinds of trouble with a poor 0-6 record, just four touchdowns and seven interceptions. His six losses were conceded by an average margin of 17 points. His longest win in those six painful games? Thirty-three small yards!
This trend was accentuated with the arrival of Patrick Mahomes in the Chiefs. The Raiders had been defeated by a 75-12 cumulative score in Kansas City since Mahomes took over.
This same Mahomes had started 40 straight games without losing by more than seven points. All good things come to an end and the Raiders have just demonstrated that the Chiefs, while they must always be considered favorites to win their division, are no longer alone.
THOUGHT FOR PRESCOTT
Another event garnered attention, this time for the wrong reasons. It’s the horrific leg injury suffered by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
Many fans like to despise the Cowboys and their various quarterbacks over time, but you have to be completely callous not to feel disgusted by this injury.
The Cowboys have big issues to deal with, but Prescott was not one of those issues. He has the team’s cause at heart and one only needs to see his teammates clustered around him when he left the pitch to understand just how much of a respected leader he is.
In terms of football, the Cowboys will have to rely on Andy Dalton. It gets worse, even if he doesn’t have Prescott’s talent.
On an individual level, this injury which seems very serious hurts since Prescott was playing under the terms of the label of “franchise player”, which only guarantees his salary for this year. He will become a free agent at the end of the campaign, but how many teams will be afraid of making a long-term commitment, including the Cowboys? Regardless of allegiance, this situation is incredibly sad.