ANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Oakland Raiders were in great position to claim an important victory last December against the Kansas City Chiefs, winners at the time of five consecutive games, as they entered the fourth quarter with a 20-14 lead.
Then the Chiefs did what they always seem to do against Oakland quarterback Derek Carr. They forced him into some game-changing mistakes. Early in the fourth quarter, Carr threw an interception that was returned to the Oakland 2. The Chiefs converted the favorable field position into a touchdown that tied the game when they missed the point-after attempt.
Then they intercepted Carr again, returning it to the Oakland 13. The Chiefs would again go on to score a touchdown. They intercepted him one more time and turned this one into a pick-six that sealed their 34-20 victory.
Carr might play like an MVP candidate against the rest of the league, but he hasn’t been one against the Chiefs. Even this season, as the Raiders bolted to a 10-2 start, Carr had by far his lowest QBR of the season (31.4) in a 26-10 loss to the Chiefs on Oct. 16, when he was intercepted once and lost a fumble.
That’ll be a big storyline Thursday night when the 9-3 Chiefs face Carr and the Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium with first place in the AFC West at stake: Will Carr’s futility against Kansas City continue?
The Chiefs will play against him with plenty of confidence, as they always seem to do.
“We’ve been fortunate, I’ll tell you that,’’ veteran linebacker Derrick Johnsonsaid. “Derek Carr is a rising star. He’s up for and is a candidate for MVP in the league. That tells you right there he’s doing a lot of things [well] this year, great this year. We’ve had success against him there in Oakland and hopefully we have the same success here with the crowd we have here. It’s going to be a challenge for him. It’s always a challenge to stop him.
“Every game is different, but you’re definitely more confident as you get more success.”
Carr is 1-4 against the Chiefs since becoming Oakland’s starting quarterback in 2014. The victory came in his first try and was his finest moment against Kansas City. On a Thursday night in Oakland, Carr led the Raiders on a 17-play, 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter and threw the winning touchdown pass with 1 minute, 42 seconds remaining in a 24-20 victory.
That’s been the extent of his success, however, and three of Kansas City’s four wins have come by at least 14 points.
“I just didn’t complete as many passes as I [wanted] to,’’ Carr said when asked about his performances against the Chiefs. “Just have to take care of the ball against them.
“It’s just how the games have went.”
But he indicated the Chiefs aren’t in his head.
“To be honest, it’s the ‘Groundhog Day’ thing,’’ he said. “Everyone asks, ‘They’ve beaten you this many times,’ and these things and all of that. When I’m preparing for these guys, it never goes through my head. That stuff never has a determining factor on anything I write down, anything that goes on in my brain or anything like that. I just prepare for them just like I do any other game. I prepare for them the same way that I do for everybody. I’m going to go out there and I’m looking forward to competing against them this time.”
For their part, the Chiefs don’t like to talk much about their successes against Carr, much less even acknowledge it.
“Not today,” coach Andy Reid said when asked whether he can point to any reasons for it.
Asked whether he would speak to it the day after the game, Reid said, “Not Friday [either].”
Reid and the Chiefs’ staff coached Carr in last season’s Pro Bowl and got to know him then. But it’s doubtful they could learn of any significant holes in Carr’s game from a few days in such a relaxed atmosphere. Even if they had, it wouldn’t explain the success the Chiefs had against him in previous games.
More likely, the Chiefs have seen some flaws of Carr’s on video or from playing against him. After Marcus Peters intercepted a Carr pass and Dee Ford made him fumble in this season’s first meeting, safety Eric Berry said, “We just told our [defensive] line, ‘Just keep fighting. Don’t stop. Keep the motor going. Try to get them rattled and [the defensive backs will] just contest on the back end. Give him different looks. Try to confuse him.’
“It all worked out in the end.”
On his interception, Peters was actually beaten downfield by the receiver, Michael Crabtree, on the play. But he indicated after the game he wasn’t worried about that.
“I knew that he wouldn’t be able to throw the ball that far,’’ Peters said of Carr. “I knew the ball was going to hang.’’