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Kelce atones for mistake, Chiefs go on second-half charge to rout Raiders 31-13

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KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The Kansas City Chiefs were clinging to the lead early in the second half against Oakland on Sunday when Travis Kelce was stripped of the ball deep in their own territory.

The young tight end also lost a fumble a week ago against Arizona, depriving the Chiefs of a chance to score the go-ahead touchdown in the waning minutes. So when Kelce coughed another one up against the Raiders, he could have easily thrown his arms up and quit.

With a little help from his teammates, he decided on a different response.

Kelce caught a 20-yard touchdown pass during a five-minute stretch when the Chiefs scored three unanswered TDs, sending them to a 31-13 win over their long-time AFC West rivals and giving a big boost to their fading playoff hopes.

"It's a long game, 60 minutes. You've got to leave the previous play in the past," Kelce said. "We have a lot of leaders on this team to help me with that. We have a lot of playmakers to get the momentum on our side and let me forget about the bad that I did."

Alex Smith threw for 297 yards and two scores. Knile Davis ran for a touchdown and caught a 70-yard pass for his first career receiving touchdown. Rookie punt returner De'Anthony Thomas trumped both of them with an 81-yard touchdown that gave Kansas City the lead early in the game.

"We're a playoff team," Thomas said. "We have to come back next week and just play like the Chiefs again, go out there with a lot of effort, aggression, and go out there and make plays."

Derek Carr was 27 of 56 for 222 yards for Oakland, throwing a TD pass in the final minute. But he also was sacked four times and fumbled a snap that led to a Kansas City touchdown.

The Chiefs (8-6), who had been poor against the run the past three weeks, even managed to bottle up Raiders running back Latavius Murray. The second-year pro had 112 yards and two scores on just four carries in their first meeting, but was held to 59 yards on 12 carries Sunday.

"Their athletes made more plays than we did," Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck said. "Pretty much it."

PHOTO: Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) tackles Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) tackles Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

The Raiders (2-12) have lost 10 straight on the road, and still have not won back-to-back games since Weeks 7 and 8 of the 2012 season. That includes a pair of duds in the Show-Me State.

"You can't just blame one area," Carr said. "This is a team thing."

Here are a couple things to remember from Kansas City's victory:

JANIKOW-SKI BOOTS: Sebastian Janikowski may have been the Raiders' most valuable player, kicking a 53-yard field goal before halftime and another early in the third quarter to help them close to 10-6. But his solid showing should not have been surprising. The veteran kicker has hit four game-winning field goals against Kansas City.

INJURY NEWS: Chiefs linebacker Josh Mauga strained an oblique and cornerback Sean Smith had cramps, though both finished the game. Raiders defensive end C.J. Wilson had knee and ankle injuries that he sustained while returning Kelce's fumble early in the third quarter.

HANKIES EVERYWHERE: The teams combined for 21 penalties, though far more flags than that were thrown. In many cases, there were offsetting penalties or penalties were declined, leaving that number slightly skewed. The result was a lengthy game without much rhythm.

THIRD DOWN: Penalties weren't the only problem the teams shared. They also combined to convert eight of 31 third downs, resulting in a busy day for their punters. The Raiders' Marquette King punted 11 times for 477 yards and the Chiefs' Dustin Colquitt punted seven times for 279 yards.

CHARLES' SCARE: Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles took a wicked blow near the goal line in the second half and appeared to be woozy when he stood up. He went to the sideline and was put through the league's concussion protocol, and was eventually cleared to continue. But the Chiefs had the game out of reach moments later and coach Andy Reid rested his star the rest of the game.

"It was a big win. Steelers next week — they're big, they have confidence. Going over there and playing Pittsburgh next week is going to be big for us," Charles said. "Every game is playoff mode. It's lose-or-go home. We're hungry. We're young. Every week we play is playoff mentality."


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