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Other Week 17 Game Recaps

Week 17 Game Recap: Oakland Raiders 17, Kansas City Chiefs 23

What you need to know

Oakland Raiders

For the 7th time in the Raiders’ final eight games, they failed to top 20 points. The only offensive touchdown of the game for Oakland came with two minutes left to play and arguably should have been called back for offensive pass interference. The offensive line opened few holes in the running game against the Chiefs talented front and struggled to protect Carr. Even when Carr had time initially, he often held the ball too long and ended up taking six sacks. After the game, head coach Jack Del Rio pinned the blame for the Raiders late-season struggles squarely on the offense and indicated changes would be made on that side of the ball in the offseason.

Kansas City Chiefs

Despite being previously eliminated from playoff contention, the Oakland Raiders came to play on Sunday and provided a stiff test for the playoff bound Kansas City Chiefs, who ultimately held on for a 23-17 victory, their 10th consecutive win. A typically mistake-averse Alex Smith uncharacteristically threw two picks, one of which was returned for a score by the Raiders David Amerson. The picks were only the sixth and seventh of the season for Smith, who otherwise delivered a typical efficient performance. The Chiefs opened things up with an eight-play, 80-yard drive culminating with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Jeremy Maclin. Smith would cap off another drive with a touchdown toss in the third quarter, this time a 15-yard strike in the end zone to Demetrius Harris. The committee approach returned to the Chiefs backfield with Spencer Ware toting the rock 16 times to Charcandrick West's 13 carries. Ware found the end zone in the first quarter, capping of a 12-play, 87-yard drive with a three-yard run through a large hole opened up by the Chiefs offensive line. All told, the Chiefs leaned towards the running game with 39 total carries yielding 189 yards versus 25 pass attempts resulting in 150 yards. The Chiefs deviated from their normally very tight distribution of targets among the key cogs in their offense as eight different Chiefs were targeted on the day. Jeremy Maclin's three catches for 54 yards and a score were enough to qualify him as the Chiefs top receiver for the game, while Albert Wilson's six targets was tops on the team. The Chiefs enter the playoffs as the hottest team in the league courtesy of their 10-game winning streak and will face a stiff test in the opening round in the form of an improving Houston Texans team that has won three straight.

Oakland Raiders

QB Derek Carr, 57 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 33 - 194 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 12 - 0
Carr didn’t have much to work with against the Chiefs. His receivers weren’t getting open and the lack of a consistent running game often put the Raiders in tough downs and distances, which allowed them to pin their ears back and come after them. Carr did exacerbate the protection issues by holding onto the ball for far too long on many occasions. He needs to make quicker decisions and throw it away if nobody is open. He threw an interception after holding the ball too long. He rolled left and threw the ball deep across his body trying to hit Amari Cooper in the end zone. The pass came up well short of where it should have been thrown and was easily picked off. The mistake cost the Raiders a field goal opportunity. He did make some nice throws at times though and his physical abilities remain obvious. He made a ridiculous throw sprinting to his right that was on the money to Crabtree, but catch was overturned after review. The ball was thrown on a rope and placed perfectly. It was the type of play that only a handful of NFL quarterbacks are able to make. Carr’s only touchdown pass came with two minutes left. With pressure in his face he lofted the ball up for Michael Crabtree in the end zone. Crabtree got away with pushing his defender to the ground, which allowed him to easily make an uncontested catch.

RB Latavius Murray, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 31 - 0, Rec: 4 - 25 - 0 (6 targets)
Murray ran hard and got the most out of what was blocked. Unfortunately, against the Chiefs tough run defense, there was often little room to operate. The Chiefs were often able to force Murray to run East-West and string out the play for little-to-no-gain. Murray’s biggest weakness this season has been his inability to convert in short yardage situations. Facing a key 3rd-and-1 deep in Chiefs territory, Murray was stuffed for a loss. Much of the blame for the consistent failures in these situations lies with the Raiders mediocre offensive line, but Murray’s height and upright running style also has hurt him in these situations where it often comes down to the old adage “low man wins.” Murray was slightly more involved in the passing game again, though two of his catches came on dump offs in the final minute with the Raiders trying to gain enough yardage for a desperation “Hail Mary” attempt.

RB Roy Helu, 15 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 5 - 0, Rec: 2 - 23 - 0 (4 targets)
Helu looked good on a pair of receptions in the two-minute drill before halftime. Backed up deep in their own territory and facing 3rd-and-12, Helu caught a screen pass with one blocker ahead of him and raced towards the first-down marker then made a sweet move on a would-be-tackler to pick up an extra five yards and dive forward for the first down. On the next play, he caught a check-down pass over the middle for nine yards.

RB Jamize Olawale, 6 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (1 targets)
Made a man miss on a short swing pass and then punished the next defender who tried to bring him down as he rumbled for an impressive 14-yard gain.

WR Seth Roberts, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 20 - 0 (3 targets)
Roberts was extremely quiet but drew a pass interference penalty late in the game on a smooth stop-and-go route that would have gone for a big gain had the defender not grabbed him when he blew past.

WR Michael Crabtree, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 34 - 1 (7 targets)
Crabtree salvaged his fantasy day with a late touchdown. With the Raiders down two scores in the final two minutes, he grabbed a 31-yard touchdown pass after a relatively blatant push in the back of Marcus Peters that sent the rookie corner sprawling to the ground. With Peters down, Crabtree was left all alone for an easy catch in the front corner of the end zone. He almost made a spectacular sideline grab for a 16-yard gain and the play was initially ruled a catch. He did a fantastic job of snagging the ball with his hands and dragging his toes but was not able to maintain possession as he hit the ground and the ruling of a completion was reversed.

WR Amari Cooper, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (5 targets)
Cooper made a nice sliding catch on a slant route for a 14-yard gain that helped the Raiders escape the shadow of their own end zone. He suffered yet another drop on a ball that hit him in the chest on a 15-yard dig route. For the first time in weeks, the Raiders attempted to hit Cooper with a wide receiver screen but the Chiefs were ready for it and blew it up for an incompletion.

TE Clive Walford, 25 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 46 - 0 (4 targets)
Walford was again one of Carr’s top targets in the passing game. His most impressive play came on a 3rd-and-7; he made three guys miss after catching it short on a crossing route to pick up the first down. His run-after-the-catch skills have impressed in recent weeks.

Kansas City Chiefs

QB Alex Smith, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 24 - 156 - 2 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 9 - 61 - 0
Alex Smith uncharacteristically threw two picks on Sunday, but otherwise delivered a typical efficient performance in leading the Chiefs to victory. The Chiefs wasted little time in putting points on the board as Smith engineered an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on the opening possession. The drive followed a familiar formula for the Chiefs with short, efficient passes complemented by the running game. Smith would hook up with his top target for the final two plays of the drive as he hit Jeremy Maclin with a short pass for a 12-yard gain from the Raiders 37-yard line, followed by a 25-yard catch-and-run by Maclin for the Chiefs first touchdown of the day. The Chiefs would have another long drive on their next possession, this time a 12-play, 87-yard drive capped off with a Spencer Ware three-yard touchdown run. The picks would come on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter, with both interestingly coming on the first play of their respective drives and wrapped around an interception by the Raiders David Carr. The second pick was snagged by the Raiders David Armeson, who was able to return it 24 yards to pay dirt. The picks were only the sixth and seventh of the season for the veteran signal caller. Smith would redeem himself in the third quarter with a four-play, 53-yard drive that culminated with a 15-yard strike to Demtrius Harris in the end zone for the Chiefs final points of the day. The Chiefs relied a little more heavily on the running game for Sunday's affair, with 39 rushing attempts (nine of which belonged to Smith) versus 25 passing attempts. We'll have to wait and see if that trend continues on Wild Card weekend against the Houston Texans or if the Chiefs will return closer to a 50/50 split.

RB Spencer Ware, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 76 - 1
After being limited for the two previous games with a rib injury, Spencer Ware reassumed his role in the Chiefs running back committee with Charcandrick West. On the day, Ware was the more effective of the two backs with his 16 carries yielding 76 yards and a score versus West's 13 carries for 34 yards. When it came time to punch it in from short yardage, Ware was the one who had his number called. Facing first and goal from the Raiders three-yard line, Ware took the handoff from Alex Smith through a massive hole created by the offensive line for the Chiefs second touchdown of the day. Ware would handle the bulk of the carries as the game developed and appears to be fully healed up heading into the playoffs. We'll look for the committee approach to remain in place for Wild Card weekend, with Ware the apparent choice for red-zone carries.

RB Charcandrick West, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 34 - 0, Rec: 1 - -2 - 0 (1 targets)
After handling the bulk of the work in the Chiefs backfield for two consecutive games, Charcandrick West found himself in a committee with Spencer Ware once again. West carried the ball 13 times versus 16 carries for Ware, with Ware posting the more productive day with 76 yards and a score versus West's 34 rushing yards, 13 of which came on a single run on the Chiefs first possession. Facing 2nd and 10 from the Chiefs 38-yard line, West took the handoff from Alex Smith through a hole up the middle for a 13-yard gain. West was basically held in check for the remainder of the game. It's safe to assume the committee approach will remain in place for the first round of the playoffs and beyond if the Chiefs advance.

WR Jeremy Maclin, 49 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 18 - 0, Rec: 3 - 54 - 1 (4 targets)
Jeremy Maclin did his part to help the Chiefs put their first points of the day on the board as he delivered the final 37 yards of an eight-play, 80-yard, opening possession touchdown drive. He would haul in a 12-yard reception to bring the Chiefs to the Raiders 25-yard line, followed by a 25-yard catch-and-run touchdown on the next play. Those two plays accounted for the bulk of Maclin's production on Sunday as he would haul in only one more pass for a 17-yard gain the rest of the way. The Chiefs received a scare in the second half when Maclin took a hard fall and landed on his hip, but he was able to return after briefly exiting the game. There's no word on any injury concerns at this point and Maclin should be good to go for a first-round playoff date with the Houston Texans on Saturday.

WR Albert Wilson, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 24 - 0 (6 targets)
Sunday was Albert Wilson's turn to lead the Chiefs in targets, but six targets in a conservative, short passing game did not lead to a productive fantasy outing. Wilson hauled in three of his targets for 24 yards, 14 of which came on a single play in the second quarter. Facing 2nd and 9 from the Chiefs 17-yard line, Alex Smith was able to connect with Wilson on a short left pass that Wilson was able to extend for a 14-yard gain. Heading into the playoffs, Wilson will remain behind Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce as the third option in the passing game.

TE Travis Kelce, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (2 targets)
It was an extremely quiet Sunday for Travis Kelce as he was targeted only twice out of Alex Smith's 24 passing attempts. He hauled in his lone reception on the Chiefs opening possession, a short right pass that he was able to extend for a 10-yard gain to place the Chiefs at the Raiders 37-yard line. Smith would connect with Jeremy Maclin on the next two plays to take the Chiefs the remainder of the way for their first points of the day. It's been a very quiet season overall for Kelce, who was expected to take a leap forward in 2015. Perhaps a date with the Houston Texans in the opening round of the playoffs will inspire the Chiefs to get Kelce more involved in the offense. Back in Week 1, Kelce had his finest game of the season against the Texans, hauling in six passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns.