KANSAS CITY: Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes continues to cover shortcomings
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes has won games for the Kansas City Chiefs without Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill, without a bell-cow running back or a defense capable of stopping just about anyone.
He proved it once more on Sunday.
With star wide receiver Tyreek Hill sidelined by a broken collarbone, and left tackle Eric Fisher on the sideline with a groin injury, the reigning league MVP merely threw four touchdown passes — all in one dynamic quarter — in the Chiefs' 28-10 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
Oh, and Mahomes did it all while nursing an ankle sprained in a Week 1 rout of Jacksonville.
"He's a hell of a quarterback," Raiders cornerback Lamarcus Joyner said. "He got a little Tom Brady to him, a little Drew Brees look, a little Philip Rivers. He'll challenge you. He can make the throws. He can scramble around, so I mean, you have to cover a little bit longer."
The big question now is whether the Chiefs can continue to rely on their third-year star.
Hill will be gone for at least another month, and nobody is quite sure whether Fisher's groin injury will keep him out long. LeSean McCoy was due to have an MRI exam on his ankle on Monday, while fellow running back Damien Williams is dealing with a knee injury.
Mahomes had wide receiver Demarcus Robinson come up big in Oakland, but the job doesn't get a whole lot easier as the Chiefs return home for their first game at Arrowhead Stadium. The Ravens are coming to town for a game that could have playoff implications come the end of the season.
Not that anybody in Kansas City is looking that far into the future.
For many of the Chiefs, they're content to marvel at the here and now — especially when it comes to their record-setting quarterback and his jaw-dropping ability.
"Listen, I never take it for granted," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "Some of these throws, I've told you this before, some of these throws he makes, you just say, 'All right,' and buzz right through it. Like it happens every day, it kind of does happen. That's what makes him unique, and the fact that he's willing to continue to work on his game the way he does is also very important.
"In this league if you let off an inch, then you're going to fall," Reid added. "He stays right on top of that in everything that he does."
The Chiefs' rebuilt defense under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo took a big step forward after a mediocre opening game against the Jaguars. After a few blown assignments allowed Oakland to take a 10-0 lead, the Chiefs basically shut down the Raiders the rest of the way.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The running game struggled with McCoy and Williams hobbled in Oakland. Mahomes can minimize a lot of issues on offense, but the Chiefs need some semblance of a run game to keep teams honest. And if the top two backs are out against Oakland, it will fall on Darrell Williams and Darwin Thompson.
Robinson caught all six passes thrown to him for 172 yards and two touchdowns, giving the Chiefs another sure-handed wide receiver with Hill out for the next few weeks. Teams will need to begin paying attention to him, and that could open up things for Watkins and tight end Travis Kelce.
The Chiefs' defensive line struggled at times against Oakland's front, though part of that was due to the exceptional play of rooking running back Josh Jacobs. But stopping the run was an issue last year, and so far the problem still exists.
The big loss in Oakland was Fisher, who actually hurt his groin late in the week and tried to play on Sunday. Cam Erving moved over to replace him in the lineup and fared well, but Fisher — an ex-No. 1 overall draft pick — has developed into one of the top left tackles in the NFL.
209 — The number of wins for coach Andy Reid, who moved into a tie with Chuck Noll for sixth in NFL history. Next on the list is Curly Lambeau with 229 victories.
After going coast to coast to pick up road wins to open the season, the Chiefs finally head home for a game at Arrowhead Stadium. The Ravens are also off to a 2-0 start, and along with the Patriots, the two teams meeting Sunday have emerged as the class of the AFC early this season.
-- By Dave Skretta, AP
OAKLAND: 1 bad quarter overshadows 3 good ones for Raiders D
ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders held Patrick Mahomes and the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs in check for three of four quarters.
It's what happened in the second quarter that doomed Oakland and exposed the wide gap between the Raiders and the defending AFC West champion Chiefs.
The Raiders allowed Mahomes to throw for 278 yards and four touchdowns in the second quarter alone, leading to Kansas City's 28-10 victory Sunday in a game where the Chiefs failed to score in the first quarter or the second half for the only time in Mahomes' 19 regular season starts.
"There were a lot of good things. Unfortunately, there were some big plays that they made," Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Monday. "A couple of them we had breakdowns, and we can't have those breakdowns."
Almost all of them came during a dizzying stretch in the second quarter when Mahomes beat Oakland deep on the four deep TD passes that all went for at least 27 yards — most of it through the air.
Some came on communication breakdowns in the back end like when Demarcus Robinson streaked down field all alone for a 44-yard score on the first play of the second quarter. Others when Mahomes made perfectly placed throws into coverage that his receivers caught.
In all, the Raiders allowed eight pass plays of at least 20 yards, with five of them coming in the second quarter.
Defensive back Lamarcus Joyner attributed most of the big plays to mistakes by Oakland rather than a lack of talent.
"When you saw us in single high and we match one on one with those guys we did well," he said. "But when we did a few different zone things when they kind of schemed us up and made us communicate, they got big chunk plays."
The Raiders got off to another fast start. They took the opening kickoff and drove to a field goal a week after starting the game with a TD. They added a touchdown on the second drive to take a 10-0 lead. The defense also forced punts on Kansas City's opening two drives as the Raiders got the first two scores of the game for the second straight week.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Receiver Tyrell Williams and tight end Darren Waller provided more production in the passing game for a second straight week. But the Raiders aren't getting nearly enough out of the rest of the receivers. Ryan Grant was targeted five times, caught one pass for minus-2 yards, committed three penalties and had one pass thrown his way intercepted. Rookie Hunter Renfrow caught four passes but gained only 30 yards on those plays and undrafted rookie Keelan Doss only played a handful of plays. Derek Carr is averaging just 2.6 yards per attempt when throwing to receivers other than Williams.
First-round running back Josh Jacobs is off to a fast start this season. He had 12 carries for 99 yards, tied for the seventh most in a game for a Raiders rookie. That comes after he became the first player since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001 to gain at least 100 yards from scrimmage and score two rushing touchdowns in his debut. His 184 yards rushing are the second most ever for a Raiders rookie in the first two weeks of the season. He showed elusiveness and power, especially on a 51-yard run that he extended for about 10 extra yards by initiating contact instead of going out of bounds.
Carr followed up one of his best games under Gruden with a rather forgettable one. He went 23 for 39 for 198 yards, one TD and two interceptions and struggled after the opening two drives. He threw an interception in the end zone on a miscommunication with Williams that thwarted any comeback attempt. In all, he had his 21st career game with at least 30 attempts and less than 200 yards, by far the most in the league since his rookie year in 2014.
The Raiders have several injured players getting checked out, including Jacobs (groin), Williams (hip pointer), RT Trent Brown (sore knee), and returner Dwayne Harris (ankle). There were no updates on their status. ... Gruden said RG Gabe Jackson is making good progress recovering from a knee injury but won't be ready to play this week. ... LG Richie Incognito returned to the team after a two-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
90. The game changed when the Chiefs scored TDs on back-to-back drives of at least 90 yards in the second quarter to take a 21-10 lead. The Raiders had allowed multiple TD drives of at least 90 yards in a game just twice in the previous 20 years, doing it in last year's season finale against Kansas City and against Miami in the final game before coach Dennis Allen was fired in 2014.
The Raiders now embark on a long road trip that won't have them returning to Oakland for a game until November. They visit Minnesota this week followed by a trip to Indianapolis. They go straight from there to London for a "home" game against Chicago before going to Green Bay and Houston following an off week.
-- By Josh Dubow, AP
DENVER: Fangio takes shot at officials after bizarre ending
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Vic Fangio is just the second of the Denver Broncos' 17 head coaches to start his career 0-2, but he believes that should come with an asterisk.
Fangio disputed two calls on Chicago's final drive Sunday and helped the Bears escape with a 16-14 win on Eddy Pineiro's field goal as time expired.
One was a roughing penalty on Bradley Chubb and the other a decision by rookie referee Adrian Hill to put 1 second back on the clock after Allen Robinson's 20-yard catch at the Denver 35.
After Fangio's gutsy call to go for 2 put them up 14-13 with 31 seconds left, Chubb had what looked like a clean hit on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky just as he got a first-down throw off to his tight end in the right flat.
Asked about the call, Fangio began his Monday news conference this way:
"In regards to officiating, I'm just going to quote Sean Payton, who's a much more senior head coach than I am: 'We can't control poor officiating or awful calls.'"
Of course, the Bears could say the same about the roughing call on Eddie Goldman, who put a clean hit on Joe Flacco earlier in the fourth quarter, tackling the quarterback around the waist.
And Fangio had plenty to say about the officials putting time back on the clock after Robinson went to the ground just as the clock ticked to 1 second, then 0, leading the Broncos and their fans celebrating an incredible win while the Bears begged for the crew to put time back on the clock.
The referee quieted the crowd and the Broncos when he said the Bears had called timeout in the nick of time and put 1 second back on the clock.
"No, I don't think there was," Fangio insisted. "He went down at 0:01 and nothing in life, in the world, happens simultaneously. There is lag time there, and they didn't deem there was lag time there."
The Broncos hadn't started a season with consecutive losses in 20 years.
"I thought we won," Derek Wolfe said. "And then I was like, 'Wait, how are they kicking a field goal ? The time is out.' And then before that, I thought, 'How do they call a roughing the passer on Chubb?"
Emmanuel Sanders has 16 receptions for 184 yards, two TDs and a 2-point conversion so far in his comeback from left Achilles tendon surgery and an operation on his right ankle.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Fangio was the designer of the NFL's best defense in Chicago and the Bears' hallmarks were takeaways and sacks — two things the Broncos haven't managed to collect any of so far.
Fangio pointed out that both the Raiders (29-27) and Bears (28-26) ran the ball more than they passed it, "which is unusual these days."
Playing from behind negates the threat of Chubb and Von Miller wrecking opponents' game plans.
Yes, it was a gut-wrenching loss, but Fangio having the guts to go for 2 raised his standing.
"Coach told us in training camp that he's going to play aggressive, he's going to play to win," Chris Harris Jr. said.
He backed it up Sunday.
LT Garett Bolles' four holding flags Sunday gives him an astonishing 34 infractions in 34 career starts and he's somehow regressing under Hall of Famer Mike Munchak — he had 10 holding calls his rookie season, nine last year and five already this season.
Three of them on Sunday came on runs.
"I think he suffers from him thinking he's in good position sometimes and dumps the guy at the end where he thinks it's a legal block," Fangio said. "We have to do a better job of explaining that to him. He's got to do a better job of listening to the explaining, but I think he can."
After the game, Bolles vowed to improve but accused the officials of picking on him.
"I've built a reputation for myself in this league of holding. I disagree with it, to be honest," Bolles said. "... That was just unfortunate that they keep coming at me."
RT Ja'Wuan James (knee) won't be back anytime soon, so with Elijah Wilkinson filling in there, Bolles' starting job is safe. The Broncos are hoping CB Bryce Callahan (foot) and ILB Todd Davis (calf) can return and give their defense a boost next week.
6 — the number of consecutive losses by the Broncos, who have lost 30 of their past 46 games.
The Broncos have to figure out how to get a lead so they can put pressure on the passer and force mistakes, and with Packers QB Aaron Rodgers up next, Sunday would be a good time to turn things around.
-- By Arnie Stapleton, AP
LOS ANGELES: Chargers have no one to blame but themselves after loss
COSTA MESA, Calif. — Anthony Lynn is starting to pencil in at least one game a year where the Los Angeles Chargers fail to capitalize on opportunities and gift-wrap a victory to the opponent.
The third-year coach is hoping Sunday's 13-10 loss at Detroit is the only time that happens this season.
"For whatever reason these types of games show up once a year. I don't like it," Lynn said on Monday. "We're a smart football team. That doesn't happen a lot so it blindsides you when it happens. We normally don't beat ourselves."
When it comes to excruciating defeats when a team messes up multiple times, this one was textbook. Los Angeles had two touchdowns called back due to penalties and then fumbled near the goal line in the same drive. It missed two field goals and saw hopes of sending the game into overtime go for naught when Philip Rivers was intercepted in the end zone.
Now Lynn has to get his team to put this loss behind while dealing with a mounting list of injuries. The Chargers had six starters not play against the Lions. The list will grow by at least one this week with safety Adrian Phillips out due to a broken forearm.
The run defense looked more like last season's. The Chargers yielded just 94 yards to the Lions on the ground after giving up 203 in the opener to Indianapolis.
Los Angeles surrendered just one run over 10 yards and none over 20 after allowing five over 10 yards last week, including two over 20.
"We were much better. We knew they were going to pound it and we held them to 3.4 (yards per carry), which is good," Lynn said. "The defensive line played well. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram made extra efforts to make plays in the run game."
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Austin Ekeler is averaging 4.3 yards per carry and has two rushing touchdowns, but he needs to do a better job with ball security near the goal line.
His fumble at the Lions 1 was his second of the season, including the preseason, in a goal-to-go situation.
"He is a heck of a football player but you don't want to see patterns," Lynn said. "The only thing I would fault (on Sunday's carry) is going over the top on first-and-goal. When you go over top you expose the football."
Cornerback Casey Hayward was one of four players to go all 61 snaps on defense. His interception of Matthew Stafford's pass intended for Kenny Golladay was Stafford's first pick in 162 attempts.
Hayward has 12 interceptions since joining the Chargers in 2016. That is the fourth in the league over the past three-plus seasons.
Ty Long was pressed into double duty again on Sunday due to kicker Michael Badgley's groin jury and missed two field goals. He had a 39-yard attempt hit the left upright during the third quarter and was wide right from 41 yards in the fourth.
Lynn said Badgley continues to make progress but wasn't sure if he would be ready for Sunday's game against Houston.
Phillips will be out for a significant period of time due to a broken right forearm which he suffered during the fourth quarter. Lynn said Phillips would be placed on injured reserve in hopes he could possibly return sometime later this season.
4 — Penalties by the offense on one drive, which ended in Ekeler's fumble. Justin Jackson's 60-yard touchdown was nullified by a holding penalty on wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, and a 22-yard Ekeler reception for a score was wiped away by Sam Tevi being flagged for an illegal block.
The Chargers are 1-1 for the second straight season going into Sunday's home game against Houston. There are no signs of Melvin Gordon ending his holdout soon. The biggest adjustment on defense will be seeing who will replace Phillips at strong safety, with Rayshawn Jenkins and Jaylen Watkins being the most likely.
-- By Joe Reedy, AP