Mahomes sets record, Chiefs beat Raiders for AFC’s top seed
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Kansas City executives don’t believe in simply locking up the AFC title. They want to have fun doing it.
Late in the first half Saturday against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Chiefs huddled and spun in a circle, burst into the shotgun with Jerick McKinnon running in for a direct hit. He faked a handoff to Kadarius Toney and returned it to quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who then threw Toney for a 9-yard touchdown.
But it didn’t count. A blocked penalty brought the game back. The Chiefs then scored anyway to take full control of what became a 31-13 win.
The show is called the Snow Globe or the Arctic Circle, depending on who you ask. But even if it didn’t count, it underscored the Chiefs’ creativity and willingness to have fun, even when playing for playoff positioning and a bye week.
“We talked about it from the other side, ‘Let’s see if we can have some confusion and throw something back,'” Mahomes said. “It worked. We just had the holding penalty. We’ve got some good stuff going into the playoffs and anything we run should work.”
That, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, was the bottom line.
“You want to (make it fun), but you also want to score,” Reid said. “It’s not fun when you don’t.”
Almost missing was the NFL record for total yards in a season that Mahomes set. He passed for 202 yards and rushed for 29 against the Raiders, giving him 5,608 total yards this season. That surpassed the record of 5,562 yards set by Drew Brees in 2011 with the New Orleans Saints.
“Pat was on fire,” Reid said. “He’s throwing these (stats) out there like they’re nothing.”
More than setting the mark, Mahomes helped secure the top seed for the Chiefs (14-3) and a bye in the first round of the playoffs, which begin next weekend. Kansas City, however, is not assured of home field advantage throughout the postseason.
Because Monday night’s Buffalo-Cincinnati game was canceled, the Chiefs could end up playing the Bills or Bengals in the AFC Championship at a neutral site. The Buffalo-Cincinnati game was originally postponed after Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest. Hamlin remains in critical condition but is improving.
This was the first NFL game played since Hamlin was hospitalized. Both teams wore black jerseys in the warm-up that read “LOVE FOR DAMAR” with his number 3 in the middle. Mahomes also wore a hoodie that had a drawing of the player with “HAMLIN STRONG” underneath it.
Instead of a moment of silence before the game, the Allegiant Stadium public address announcer asked fans to cheer for Hamlin’s recovery.
“It was definitely weird,” Mahomes said of being back on the court. “It’s a game you love, you play your whole life. It has brought you many great things. But obviously, with the situation that happened Monday night with Damar, that’s still in the back of your mind. You want to be there for it, and there’s a lot bigger than football.”
The Chiefs matched their franchise record for regular-season wins, set in 2020, and they set a team mark with their 17th straight game of at least 300 yards of offense.
The Raiders (6-11) finished their first season under coach Josh McDaniels with three straight losses and four losses in five games. They made the playoffs a year ago, but now face serious questions at quarterback, on the offensive line and throughout the defense.
Jarrett Stidham started his second straight game in place of the sidelined Derek Carr, and this appearance didn’t go as well as the first. Stidham completed 22 of 36 passes for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked six times.
A week earlier, he threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-34 overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Stidham said he hasn’t given much thought to trying to keep the starting job next season with the Raiders.
“Do I feel like I’m that caliber of player in this league?” he said. “Absolutely. I just tried to be ready for my opportunity these last two weeks and try to take full advantage of it.”
Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, who was dealing with hip and oblique injuries as well as a reported family emergency, was a game-day decision but played. He rushed for 45 yards and could possibly win the NFL rushing title with 1,653 yards.
But Jacobs fell short of the franchise rushing record of 1,759 yards set by Marcus Allen in 1985. That was potentially Jacobs’ last game as a member of the Raiders because his fifth-year option was not picked up. His performance this season has given Las Vegas officials plenty to consider.
Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton had 16 tackles, giving him 180 for the season and breaking the team record of 179 set by Derrick Johnson in 2011. … Kansas City linebacker Jerick McKinnon has caught a touchdown pass in six consecutive matches. He has a total of nine TDs during that span. … Chiefs starting defensive end George Karlaftis has 5½ sacks in seven games. … Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce caught six passes for 38 yards, giving him 110 receptions this season, one shy of the Chiefs mark set by Tyreek Hill last season.
Chiefs: DE Frank Clark (groin) sat out the second quarter.
Raiders: CB Nate Hobbs (hand) and LB Harvey Langi (concussion) are out and did not return.
Chiefs: The regular season is over. Kansas City looks forward to seeing its playoff opener.
Raiders: Las Vegas has some important decisions to make with its roster now that its season is over.
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