Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media


FSM Essential Recap: Raiders vs Chiefs – Week 18

Las Vegas Raiders (6-11) | Kansas City Chiefs (14-3)

Franchise Sports Media


After another beat down at the hands of Mahomes & the Chiefs, one of the most anticipated Raider seasons on record finishes 6-11: Good for third in the AFC West. With many questions to address over the offseason, Raider Nation will take some time off before returning to work in the Spring.


Raiders vs Chiefs
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

Well, folks, we are finally here: NFL Week 18. The past four-plus months have not been the most kind to Raider Nation, but as this fanbase knows better than most, resiliency is required to endure in the game of football.

Over 17 games so far, the Las Vegas Raiders have mostly underperformed, especially considering the talent within their offensive skill group. RB Josh Jacobs and WR Davante Adams each lead the NFL in respective statistical categories. Still, the only statistic that really matters is the Raiders’ overall record.

At that, here come the Kansas City Chiefs to give Vegas their last taste of football until the end of Summer. In my KC-LV preview from earlier in the week, I alluded to the fact that the Raiders can still knock the Chiefs down a peg in the AFC postseason seeding, but don’t expect K.C. to rest any starters. You can bet they still want the playoff road to go through Arrowhead. Of course, that all may, in fact, come down to a coin flip if Buffalo is also involved in the conference title game, but Kansas City will be looking to tie up any loose ends in Week 18.

Still, the ultimate wrinkle heading into Saturday’s game is QB Jarrett Stidham making his second career start. Going against the 49ers last week, Stidham played aggressively, amassing over 350 passing yards with three scores through the air. Now in Week 18 (with Derek Carr publicly stepping away from the team after being benched), Stidham is essentially playing with house money. Expect Stidham to come out firing for the second consecutive week.

Is it really the end already? Man, where has the time gone? Week 18: Let’s dive in.


Previous contests


HOF game: Raiders 27 – Jaguars 11
PRE1: Raiders 26 – Vikings 20
PRE2: Raiders 15 – Dolphins 13

PRE3: Raiders 23 – Patriots 6

WK1: Chargers 24 – Raiders 19 (L)
WK2: Cardinals 29 – Raiders 23 (OT)/(L)
WK3: Titans 24 – Raiders 22 (L)
WK4: Raiders 32 – Broncos 23 (W)
WK5: Chiefs 30 – Raiders 29 (L)
WK7: Raiders 38 – Texans 20 (W)

WK8: Saints 24 – Raiders 0 (L)
WK9: Jaguars 27 – Raiders 20 (L)
WK10: Colts 25 – Raiders 20 (L)
WK11: Raiders 22 – Broncos 16 (OT)/(W)
WK12: Raiders 40 – Seahawks 34 (OT)/(W)
WK13: Raiders 27 – Chargers 20 (W)
WK14: Rams 17 – Raiders 16 (L)
WK15: Raiders 30 – Patriots 24 (W)
WK16: Steelers 13 – Raiders 10 (L)
WK17: 49ers 37 – Raiders 34 (OT)/(L)


1st Quarter


Raiders vs Chiefs
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

As Chiefs Kingdom so often does, the K.C. faithful showed up to Allegiant Stadium in numbers. Through the splotches of red & yellow, Raider Nation was still prevalently on display to counter their rivals’ roars. With that, Las Vegas actually won the opening coin toss, deferring their decision to the second half. Now, let’s see what the magnificent Mahomes and his offensive unit look like today.

Coming out in shotgun formation, Mahomes handed to RB Isiah Pacheco for the game’s opening play, gaining about five-yard up the middle. From there, Mahomes would start to do “Mahomes things,” connecting with WR Justin Watson down the left sideline for a staggering pickup of 67 yards. Now inside the Raider 5-yard line, Mahomes needed only three more plays to find the end zone. On a broken 3rd & goal from the two-yard line, Mahomes managed to extend time enough to find a trickling RB Jerick McKinnon in the back of the end zone for an early Chiefs touchdown. In barely over two minutes of action, the Chiefs jump out ahead, 7-0.

For the Raiders, all are eager to see QB Jarrett Stidham’s follow-up performance after putting up three touchdowns/over 300 yards against the 49ers. Right away, Stidham came out aggressively, finding TE Foster Moreau on an out-left for a 1st down on their first play. From there, RB Josh Jacobs hit the ground, and the burley tailback has his sights set on the 2022-23 NFL rushing title; He’d add four yards on his first carry. Next, Stidham used his legs to earn the line to gain, picking up a second 1st down on the possession.

After a negative run play, Stidham again scrambled for positive yardage, netting ten more on the ground. Now on 3rd & short near midfield, Stidham went to the All-Pro WR Davante Adams with a pretty fade pass on the right sideline, which Adams masterfully hauled in for a 1st down. With the Raider Nation crowd livened up a bit, Stidham tried again for Adams but missed his target short. WR Hunter Renfrow would add a quick reception on the next play, but only for four yards. Unfortunately for Vegas, Stidham would be sacked on the next play by the explosive DT Chris Jones. With that, K Daniel Carlson was called upon to attempt a daunting 54-yard field goal, which the kicker from Auburn converted. With over seven minutes left in 1Q, the Chiefs lead 10-3.

Can Kansas City’s offense score as expeditiously as they did in their opening drive? The Chiefs started their next possession with their bread & butter; Mahomes connected with All-World TE Travis Kelce for a gain of seven yards. Their next two plays were rushing attempts. Both gained minimal yards but enough to move the chains for K.C. From there, the Chiefs picked up the pace when Mahomes found TE Noah Gray on a drag over the middle, to which he took upfield for a pickup of 14 yards. From there, Vegas’ defense would begin to rally, especially after a fantastic play in coverage from S Tre’von Moehrig on a ball deep down the seam (intended for WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling). The Chiefs would be unable to gain more ground over their next three plays, eventually stalling at the LV 42-yard line. After a punt from K.C., it’s Raider ball inside their own 5-yard line.

On the drive’s first play, the Raiders went right back to Jacobs for a stalemate at the line. Next, Stidham got the offense out of the fire by hitting WR Mack Hollins along the left side for a 1st down catch & run of 12 yards. However, the Vegas possession would end shortly after. The next two plays produced a second sack of Stidham followed by an interception (S Juan Thornhill) on a pass that he tried to force along the left sideline to Hollins. In a flash, the ball is back with K.C. near midfield, and we actually hear a Tomahawk chop start-up inside Allegiant Stadium. Not good.

On his first play back on the field, Mahomes whipped an absolute laser to WR JuJu Smith-Schuster over the middle for a 28-yard gain. Now in the red zone, K.C. went to the ground on a wide receiver sweep by WR Kadarius Toney. That took the Chiefs all the way down to the LV 2-yard line, and that’s also where the 1st quarter ended. It’s still 10-3: Chiefs.


2nd Quarter


Raiders vs Chiefs
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

Beginning 2Q on the Raiders’ 2-yard line, Mahomes came out in a full-house shotgun. From there, it was all too easy for the Chiefs to bully in another touchdown, as Mahomes handed to RB Ronald Jones for a 2-yard score up the gut. With only five seconds gone from the second quarter clock, K.C. leads 14-3.

The Raiders came back out on offense with some swagger. On the drive’s second play, Stidham got TE Darren Waller involved when he found him over the middle for a pickup of 24 yards. Now with momentum, Stidham was able to produce another 1st down with his legs, scrambling ahead for 10 yards. From there, Jacobs and Stidham would trade rushes as the Raiders continued to push the ball onto Kansas City’s side of the field. Mixing up the playbook, Vegas then used scheme passes and intermediate rushes to gain ground continually. Still, after 13 plays on offense, the Raiders were left with a 4th & goal from the K.C. 2-yard line, only for Stidham to miss high on a pass attempt to Waller in the back-left corner. After a possession of nearly nine minutes of the game clock, Vegas comes away empty-handed. They still trail K.C. by two scores, 14-3.

If you’ve followed the Chiefs at all these past five years, then you know they are exceptional at taking advantage of other teams’ mistakes (see their third drive of the day). Initially, Las Vegas was able to stop the Chiefs on their first couple of plays backed up, but on 3rd down, DE Maxx Crosby was flagged for a defensive offsides penalty. With a new set of downs, Mahomes was sure to work wisely. The play following the penalty was a 13-yard gain to Valdes-Scantling, then Toney chimed in with a 1st down reception of his own. That took us to the two-minute warning.

Coming back from the mandated stoppage, the Raiders were actually able to hold the Chiefs ineffective for the next two plays. Still, on the money (3rd) down, Mahomes was able to slip away from Vegas’ pass rush, using his legs to pick up a vital 1st down inside the red zone. From there, a Mickey Mouse huddle (where they literally did “ring-around-the-rosy” before breaking) direct-snap toss-back play found the end zone for K.C., but an offensive holding call brought it back to Earth. Now on 2nd & 5 from the 11-yard line, an end-around to Toney somehow bashed through for a touchdown. In gut-punching fashion, the Chiefs extend their lead over the rival Raiders, up 21-3.

With less than a minute left in the half, the Raiders began the possession at their own 25-yard line. Stidham immediately fired a dart over the middle to Adams, who would make a fine catch in traffic to gain 21 yards. Now near midfield, Stidham would go back to Adams on the very next play, only for the ensuing defensive back to be flagged for pass interference. With a new set of downs on K.C.’s side of the field, Stidham proceeded to get sacked (DE George Karlaftis) for the third time in the half. Even at that, Stidham’s next pass was another successful one to Adams on a post, but an illegal use of hands penalty on G Dylan Parham nullified the reception. Now 3rd & 27, Stidham’s pocket collapsed almost instantly as DE Mike Danna punched out the football for Karlaftis to recover. Just like that, the Raiders turn the ball over for the third time in the half, and K.C. is in scoring range with time on the clock.

With only 9 seconds before halftime, even the great Mahomes couldn’t muster a touchdown drive from there. However, all he needed was one completion to Valdes-Scantling for the Chiefs, then to send out K Harrison Butker for more points; His ensuing 44-yard FG attempt was right down the middle. Heading into the locker rooms, the Chiefs hold a three-score lead, 24-3.


3rd Quarter


Raiders vs Chiefs
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

Resuming the on-field action, the Raiders took possession to start the second half. In another one of their lengthiest drives of the day, Las Vegas was able to run 13 plays into points by the end. Prevalent on the possession was Josh Jacobs, who rumbled his way to multiple 1st downs. Still, with momentum building in their favor, the Raiders seemed to follow every two positive plays with a negative one. Once they were well into Chiefs’ territory, a costly delay of game penalty left them in a 3rd & 15 scenario from the K.C. 20-yard line. From there, all Vegas could do was send out Carlson for his second field goal of the day (this one was good from 38 yards out). Using over half of the 3Q clock time, the Raiders still trail: 24-6.

These days, seeing Kansas City’s offense go three-and-out is about as rare a sighting as Haley’s comet, and what do you know? It passed by today! After a stuffed run and an incompletion, Crosby finally got to Mahomes on 3rd down, sacking the All-Pro QB and forcing a punt. After their best defensive series of the day, can the Raiders claw back in this game?

Taking over at their own 27-yard line, the Raiders got going after Stidham added a 7-yard keeper along the right sideline. On 2nd & short, Jacobs fell just shy of the line-to-gain. Then on 3rd down, Stidham took a deep shot for Waller, who had a step on his defender, but S Justin Reid made a fine recovery play to deflect the pass at the last second. Just when Las Vegas needed to take advantage of a K.C. three-and-out, the Raiders went three-and-out themselves. Of course, you know by now that complementary football was not a strength of the Silver & Black in 2022.

After A.J. Cole’s ensuing punt landed out-of-bounds at the K.C. 2-yard line, Mahomes and his group came out, literally, with their backs against the wall. The first play of the series was a short reception to Kelce. On 2nd down, Mahomes set his sights on Watson, who was streaking up the seam, but another incredibly timed play from Moehrig floating over from centerfield jarred the pass out of Watson’s mitts. From there, Mahomes again used his legs to pick up the line-to-gain but could not muster much more on the next series. It’s hard to believe, but the Raiders just forced back-to-back punts from Kansas City. Of course, that’s when Chiefs P Tommy Townsend came out to pin Vegas back at the LV 4-yard line. The Raiders have the ball back and still trail 24-6. Naturally, that’s when the 3Q clock expired. In the final quarter of the Raiders’ 2022-23 season, here we come.


4th Quarter


Raiders vs Chiefs
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

Well, the following series for the Raiders really needs no mention at all. Backed up against their own end zone, Las Vegas went three-and-out (a rush attempt that lost ground and two incompletions) in precisely 58 seconds of clock time. Essentially, the possession barely existed. Here comes Cole to boom away another punt, landing the Chiefs at their own 33-yard line.

At this point, it feels as if Kansas City is out there to simply sharpen their skills for the playoffs. Keeping the majority of starters on the field, Mahomes and the Chiefs got right back to it with an 11-yard 1st down reception to Kelce. Next, Pacheco added an 8-yard run through the trenches. Keeping on that theme, K.C. went right back to Pacheco on the ground, as the speedy tailback burst up the right side for a 31-yard gain down to the LV 2. Now just a breath away, Pacheco finished what he started by punching in the touchdown a couple of plays later. In a thoroughly dominant drive (making a definitive statement to the many AFC scouts seated beside me in the southern press box), the Chiefs‘ offense is moving like a well-oiled machine–Is anyone actually surprised, though? K.C. now leads 31-6.

Down by 25 points with the postseason long gone, the Raiders are now entering some of those “character-defining” moments. When there is not much to play for, what kind of player are you? Well, as with other moments this season, Las Vegas showed that there is no quit in this franchise. Over the next ten plays, Stidham showed great distributing ability, getting Waller, Renrow, and WR Keelan Cole involved with difficult catches to move the chains. Once on the Chiefs’ side of the field, Stidham continued to dink and dunk further into K.C. territory. Now at the 11-yard line, the Raiders began to stall after two-straight incompletions. Then on 3rd down, Stidham made a visit to 3rd & Renfrow, as the lightning-quick slot receiver got loose for a pretty touchdown reception. And with Vegas finding the end zone for the first time on the day, Raider Nation went wild (even if all hope had been lost). It’s now 31-13 Kansas City, with only six and a half minutes left in the season.

Quite honestly, after the Renfrow touchdown, there was not much more that transpired on the field. The Chiefs marched out their offense one final time, only to punt three plays later. For the Raiders, they went out swinging, eventually moving the ball to midfield before Stidham was sacked on a 4th & long. And just like that, Vegas’ 2022-2023 season is a wrap, ending at (6-11): 3rd place in the AFC West.




Raiders vs Chiefs
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

Like it or not, HC Josh McDaniels will get a mulligan for this season only to make the offense more “him” next year.

As it seems now, WR Davante Adams is still invested in playing for his childhood team. He is still under contract with the Raiders for next season and may even be involved in the team’s upcoming quarterback search. Given Adams’ talent and production, Las Vegas should do all they can to persuade him to stay in town as long as possible.

On another note, the curious mind always wonders; What if these Raiders made a couple of plays each game to swing their fortunes? That’s really how tight the margin is in the NFL. If only two or three plays went differently for Las Vegas each week, they would be looking at a (10-6). In my opinion, this Raiders team is not so different from the Minnesota Vikings: A squad that is (12-4) and heading for the postseason. But of course, gridiron football is not a game built on “what ifs,” but more about getting things done when the moment presents itself.

It’s not unlikely that QB Jarrett Stidham has played his last game in Silver & Black. For his second professional start, he was less spectacular (tossing for 219 yards with a touchdown and interception each). Still, he does have some dynamic traits and may serve as a solid No. 2 if the Raiders choose to retain his services. Of course, McDaniels may already have his mind set on other familiar faces, perhaps Tom Brady or Jimmy Garoppolo. Raider Nation: You are allowed to feel however you feel about that.


In one of the most anticipated Raider seasons on record, Las Vegas managed to finish third in the AFC West at 6-11. With many questions to address over the offseason, Raider Nation will take some time off before getting back to work in the Spring.



-Gabe Santiago – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Gabe on Twitter & Instagram at @gps_onthemic

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