OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Adding speed to the defense to match up with Kansas City's dynamic playmakers was a priority this offseason for the Oakland Raiders.
For one dizzying stretch in the second quarter the improved defense couldn't catch up, leading to four long touchdown passes by Patrick Mahomes that sent Oakland to a 28-10 loss to Kansas City on Sunday.
"He was the MVP for a reason," Raiders cornerback Daryl Worley said. "He made some hell of a (good) throws. We've got to be better in situations like that and be able to make those plays on the ball."
The Raiders started fast, forcing punts on the opening two drives for the first scoreless opening quarter of Mahomes' 19 career starts. They finished OK by keeping the Chiefs off the scoreboard in the second half for the first time in Mahomes' career as well.
The second quarter was a thing of nightmares as Chiefs receivers burned past defenders, exploited blown coverages and capitalized when Mahomes was able to extend plays in the pocket.
It added up to 278 yards passing — the most in any quarter in nearly 11 years — the four touchdowns, and one stretch that included five straight attempts that went for at least 27 yards. Three of those went for touchdowns.
"We had a breakdown in one coverage, I know that, but a couple of those were just incredible throws and catches also," coach Jon Gruden said. "You have to tip your hat to them. We didn't get enough pressure. We let Mahomes move around back there, cock his arm. And when he gets an opportunity to do that he can drop them in there no matter where they are."
The breakdown came on the first touchdown when Demarcus Robinson sped through the secondary and was all alone for a 44-yard score on the first play in the second quarter.
Kansas City didn't slow down from there, scoring on two straight drives of more than 90 yards, with Mahomes finding rookie Mecole Hardman on a 42-yards strike and Travis Kelce on a 27-yarder that made it 21-10.
The Raiders then went three-and-out late in the half, setting the stage for the fourth TD on a 39-yard pass from Mahomes to Robinson, who thrived as the Oakland defense paid more attention to Kelce and Sammy Watkins with speedster Tyreek Hill out with an injury.
"He's got a great arm and they've got a lot of weapons. Up front, we have to get home," rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby said. "That's basically it. The back end can only hold up for so long. We just have to keep getting pressure. They had a second quarter where they started throwing the ball deep and they won some 50-50 balls. That's on us up front. We've got to get home."
The poor defensive quarter was even more costly because the offense stalled after scoring 10 points on the opening two drives. Derek Carr looked crisp early, leading the Raiders to a field goal and then throwing a 4-yard TD pass to Tyrell Williams on the second drive to make it 10-0.
The Raiders didn't score again, gaining two first downs on four drives during the Kansas City barrage, and then throwing two interceptions in the third quarter to end any comeback attempt.
"There was a time when we couldn't get a first down and they jumped up on us, and then that changes a whole bunch of stuff," Carr said.