Raiders control playoff destiny despite tough, last-minute loss

LAS VEGAS -- There are no moral victories, Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden will tell you, but this one has to sting just a little extra.

The Raiders had the defending Super Bowl champs right where they wanted them, holding a three-point lead with 1:43 to play and the Kansas City Chiefs 75 yards away. Or maybe that was where the Chiefs wanted to be, as they took all of 1:15 to drive down and break the Raiders' hearts, with Patrick Mahomes hitting a wide-open Travis Kelce with a 22-yard touchdown in a scramble drill to pull off a 35-31 victory on Sunday night.

But not all is lost for the Raiders (6-4). They are still in the thick of the AFC playoff race, with games on the schedule against two teams they are competing against for a playoff bid: the Indianapolis Colts and the Miami Dolphins. Both teams have to travel to Las Vegas.

Describe the game in two words: Bummer, dude. The Raiders were THISCLOSE to sweeping the Chiefs for the first time since 2012.

QB breakdown: Derek Carr was more than up for the challenge. Having completed his first 11 passes, Carr had a passer rating of 142 midway through the fourth quarter. A pair of bad drops by fullback Alec Ingold and one on a catchable deep ball by Nelson Agholor cost Carr's stat line, as he finished 23-for-31 for 275 yards, three TDs and a game-sealing INT on a floater down the left sideline. Carr finished with a passer rating of 119.7.

Pivotal play: A blown zone coverage left Kelce wide-open for the winning score. It looked as though Johnathan Abram crept too far in as Mahomes scrambled, leaving Kelce in the middle of the end zone.

Silver lining: The Raiders went toe-to-toe with the defending champs, despite so many players' not practicing this week. Ten of the 11 players on Las Vegas' COVID-19 list were on the defensive side of the ball, and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther lamented facing such a powerful team with 75% of his defense out. The defense did bend and break at times, but it kept the game within reach.

Eye-popping NextGen Stat: On tight end Darren Waller's 3-yard touchdown catch to start the fourth quarter that gave the Raiders a 24-21 lead, with the PAT, Waller was wide-open. He was so open that he had a mind-numbing 8.5 yards of separation from the nearest defender. It was the most yards of separation on a Raiders TD this season. Play design or skill? You decide.