Oakland, Calif. Since the middle of the 2007 season, no team in the NFL has been worse than the Kansas City Chiefs. All the losing and mistakes somehow disappear when the Chiefs arrive in Oakland.
Jamaal Charles scored on a 44-yard run for Kansas City’s first rushing touchdown of the season, and the Chiefs used a late interception to win their seventh straight road game against the Oakland Raiders, 16-10 on Sunday.
“I guess we got a winning streak here,” receiver Dwayne Bowe said. “Every time we play a division team our goal is to win. But every time we play the Raiders, it’s always a hated rivalry and coach stressed it all during the week: Hate the Raiders, we’ve got to beat the Raiders.”
That’s about the only thing Kansas City (2-7) has been able to do of late. The Chiefs (2-7) have managed to win just five of their past 35 games. But three of those wins have come at the Oakland Coliseum, where Kansas City has the longest winning streak ever by a visiting team.
Ryan Succop kicked three field goals, and Kansas City once again pulled out a close one against the Raiders (2-7) in Oakland in the Chiefs’ first game since releasing running back Larry Johnson. Charles stepped in and ran for 103 yards, including Kansas City’s only touchdown on a fourth-and-1 in the second quarter. That was the first rushing touchdown for the Chiefs since Tyler Thigpen had one Dec. 21, 2008, against Miami.
“I feel like I’m getting the opportunity to play,” Charles said. “I’m really trying to take over at the spot. I don’t just want to take over, I want to win so it’s not all about taking over the job, it’s who can make plays.”
The Raiders scored a touchdown on their opening drive and then managed just three points and 202 yards the rest of the way. For the second straight home game, the Raiders pulled former No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell for ineffectiveness.
He was taken out in the first half against the Jets last month after committing three first-half turnovers. He lasted into the second half this week, before being replaced by Bruce Gradkowski late in the third quarter after going 8-for-23 for 64 yards. Russell said he was surprised and disappointed by coach Tom Cable’s decision.
“Things were going OK,” Russell said. “Toward the end, we weren’t able move the ball as well.”
The change didn’t provide an immediate spark as Gradkowski failed to get a first down after a fumble gave the Raiders the ball at the Kansas City 49. Gradkowski then threw an interception to Mike Brown on a tipped pass on the next drive, giving the Chiefs the ball at the Oakland 47.
The Chiefs drove the ball down to the 11 before settling for a 31-yard field goal by Succop that gave them a 16-10 lead with 6:17 remaining.
Gradkowski drove the Raiders to the Kansas City 26 before rookie Darrius Heyward-Bey bobbled a pass inside the 10 and it ended up in Brown’s hands for a game-sealing interception.
“It’s tough to swallow,” Gradkowski said. “You know that kind of summed up today though. We had plays out there that we need to make.”
Cable said he wanted to look at the film before deciding who he will start next week against Cincinnati. He blamed eight drops for some of the poor play but said Russell missed open receivers too often.
“This game is about making plays and we just did not do that whether it was JaMarcus in there or Bruce in there,” Cable said. “I’m just looking for the guy who gives us the best chance to win.”
The Raiders, playing with a healthy offense for the first time all season, got off to a fast start. Michael Bush’s 60-yard run set up a 1-yard plunge by Justin Fargas. Oakland’s only other score came on Sebastian Janikowski’s 50-yard field goal after Dantrell Savage muffed a punt later in the first quarter.
NOTES: One play in the third quarter provided some comic relief. Dwayne Bowe fumbled after a 12-yard catch for Kansas City. At least six players had a shot to fall on the ball, but it kept squirting down field until offensive lineman Brian Waters fell on at the Oakland 22, giving the Chiefs an extra 23 yards on the play. Kansas City was unable to capitalize on the good fortune as Matt Cassel threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-one. ... Janikowski missed a 45-yard FG in the third quarter, ending a streak of 20 straight makes.