OAKLAND — That was the real world, the NFL. That was the team that came within an overtime loss of reaching the Super Bowl, the Kansas City Chiefs. That was the quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, who was the NFL offensive player of the year.
And on Sunday, that was the game that showed how much better the Chiefs were than the Raiders. Not that you didn’t have a pretty good idea before they played.
To borrow from Denny Green, they are who we thought they are: the Chiefs, probably the best team in football not named the New England Patriots, who beat K.C. in that overtime AFC Championship; the Raiders, a franchise of young players not going anywhere for a while. If you don’t count Las Vegas.
The Raiders showed us something. They went ahead, 10-0, still in the first quarter. Maybe there was going to be an upset.
No chance. The Chiefs scored four consecutive touchdowns in the second quarter, the shortest of which came on a 27-yard pass. Wham. It was 28-10, which turned out to be the final score.
The Chiefs are better. Everyone knows that. They've been better for a long while. It was with the hope of stopping K.C. and New England that the Raiders hired Jon Gruden, who is starting his second season as the Oakland coach.
He and new GM Mike Mayock seem to have made a difference — no Antonio Brown comments, please — but the climb is steep, as we realized once more when the Chiefs showed their dominance.
“They made some great plays,” said Gruden. “A barrage of plays, in about a five-minute period. It really turned the game around.”
So he was stating the obvious. Coaches do that, just in case some of us miss what we saw — as opposed to what we thought we saw. The Raiders did what they could. The Chiefs did what they needed.
Mahomes was wonderful. Playing on a sore ankle, he threw 44 passes and completed 30 for 443 yards and those four jolting TDs.
“We had a breakdown in one coverage,” Gruden explained. “But a couple of those were just incredible throws and catches. You just have to tip your hat to them. We didn’t get enough pressure. We let Mahomes move around back there and cock his arm. And when he gets an opportunity to do that, he can drop them in there no matter where they are.”
That’s what the great ones do, make plays. On offense. Or on defense. Mahomes passed for more than 5,000 yards and for 53 touchdowns last season, his second as a pro.
He’s special. If nobody except the Patriots could shut him down — and in truth they didn’t — why would anyone expect the Raiders to do it?
Meaning this was less a situation of the Raiders losing (they're now 1-1 for the brief season) than the Chiefs winning.
“This is the NFL,” said Raiders defensive back Daryl Worley. “Everyone’s a pro. That’s what (Mahomes) is known for in this league. He had time back there in the pocket.
“He was the MVP for a reason. We’ve got to get better in situations like that.”
The way the Chiefs got better after the Raiders' quick start. K.C. did what the Raiders couldn’t do, adjust and respond.
“The defense,” was the short, accurate explanation by Chiefs coach Andy Reid of how his team shifted the game. “I thought they were big today. I mean real big."
They certainly made a big impact on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who, harassed, threw an interception in the end zone.
“That’s a really good defense,” affirmed Carr. “They were so big (the previous game). Today they were playing a different style, but they bring a lot of pressures, and it’s tough, to be honest with you.”
“Early on we were hitting on some big time things, but the next two, three, four drives they were giving us something, or we would be just short of the first down. That’s football. But it gets annoying when the game changes.”
Annoying and defeating.