Patrick Mahomes didn’t take any victory laps Sunday night around Allegiant Stadium. He’s had enough comeback wins that this one didn’t necessitate gloating. For him, revenge is a dish best served cold and calculating.
His late fourth-quarter drive which culminated in a 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce with 28 seconds remaining was enough satisfaction for him as the Kansas City Chiefs rallied from a 31-28 deficit to defeat the Las Vegas Raiders, 35-31, in a Sunday night thriller.
Mahomes, who threw for 348 yards, a pair of touchdowns and an interception, helped avenge last month’s 40-32 loss to the Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium and keep the Chiefs in first place in the AFC West by three games at 9-1.
“We had to give it everything we had to win this game,” Mahomes said. “That’s a great football team over there. You never want to lose to the same team twice.”
For Raiders coach Jon Gruden, to let one like this get away stung.
“This is hard to swallow right now,” Gruden said, in keeping his comments brief. “We gave a great effort. But we’ve got to get some people back.”
The Raiders, who were 8-point home underdogs, have been finding ways to compete with key players missing on both sides of the ball. And with quarterback Derek Carr having an outstanding game, it appeared Las Vegas was going to close the gap on Kansas City.
Carr was 23 of 31 for 275 yards and three TDs. But he was unable to muster one last rally as he was picked off with 19 seconds to go by Daniel Sorensen. Still, it was an excellent effort on his part.
“We’ve been in a rhythm all year and we were in a good rhythm today,” Carr said. “I felt like we hit some big plays, but it wasn’t enough.”
This one was a see-saw battle and the Raiders matched the Chiefs shot for shot until the end.
“We expected it to be a back-and-forth game,” said veteran tight end Jason Witten, who caught the last of Carr’s three TD passes, a 1-yard grab with 1:43 to go. “We knew we were going to get their best shot. They’re the world champions.
“I thought Derek Carr was in command the entire game. But they made a big play in the end. We went 60 minutes with the world champs and we took them all the way to the wire. These are the games you earn the right to play in and now we have to find a way to win them.”
Carr said he couldn’t worry about leaving time on the clock for Mahomes to work his magic.
“We were behind so we needed to score,” he said. “He’s a great player, one of the best in the league.”
There were eight lead changes Sunday and it never really felt safe for either side, such was the high level the two quarterbacks were performing at. So when Mahomes and the Chiefs took possession at their own 25-yard-line with 1:43 left, one time out remaining and trailing by three (31-28), there was an uneasiness lurking in the spectator-less 65,000-seat stadium.
He spread the wealth around. Ten yards to Tyreek Hill, then 16 yards to Mecole Hardman, then 15 yards to Kelce. Finally, Mahomes and Kelce connected again, this time for what would be the winning score.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Hill was the first option on what would be the winning TD. But Mahomes, who bought a bit of time in avoiding the rush, saw Kelce wide open in the end zone and put it on the money.
“I think guys stepped up and made plays,” Mahomes said of the winning drive. “I think there’s steps. first, you want to execute and move the ball down the field. You want to give (kicker) Harrison (Butker) range. But we had time to take a couple of shots for the end zone and it worked out.”
For the 6-4 Raiders, their postseason quest remains very much alive. they hit the road for two games, beginning next Sunday at Atlanta, then it’s off to New Jersey on Dec. 5 to face the winless New York Jets in the Meadowlands.
“We’re a very young team,” Carr said. “It’s exciting to see the glimpses of where we’re going. Today, it just wasn’t enough.”