Oakland, Calif. Brandon Flowers heard the boos at the Black Hole grow louder with every pass the Kansas City Chiefs intercepted and could only chuckle.
Just three weeks ago, that’s all the Chiefs heard too.
In a surprising turnaround from the NFL’s basement, Flowers and Kendrick Lewis returned interceptions for touchdowns, and Kansas City piled up six interceptions to shut out the Oakland Raiders, 28-0, Sunday for its third straight victory.
“We love it. Any defense loves to play away and hear boos,” said Flowers, who had two interceptions. “Every defense loves that. For us to come out here and get the Oakland Raiders crowd to do that, the Black Hole, that was big for us.”
The Chiefs didn’t care who played quarterback for Oakland.
Starter Kyle Boller became the first Raiders quarterback in 13 years to throw three interceptions in the first half, including Lewis’ 59-yard score on the first drive of the game for Oakland (4-3).
Carson Palmer, acquired in a trade Tuesday, relieved him in the second half and threw three more interceptions — including one that Flowers returned 58 yards to give the Chiefs a 28-0 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs (3-3) have rebounded from an 0-3 start and will play for a share of the AFC West lead on Monday night against San Diego.
“We just have to keep believing,” Flowers said. “We never bowed our head and thought the season was done like some people did. We just knew if we kept pushing, things would turn around for us. It’s going to be a great showdown Monday night.”
Javier Arenas and Le’Ron McClain each added touchdown runs for the Chiefs on a day the Kansas City offense didn’t have to do much at all.
After being outscored 89-10 in losses to Buffalo and Detroit to open the season, the defending AFC West champion Chiefs are back in contention in the division.
While the wins came against cellar dwellers Minnesota and Indianapolis and a banged-up Raiders team missing its leading passer, scorer and rusher for most of the game, the Chiefs aren’t apologizing.
“This is a tough group of guys we’ve got,” Chiefs coach Todd Haley said.
The Raiders’ promising season was jolted last week when Jason Campbell was knocked out with a broken collarbone. Coach Hue Jackson moved quickly to get a replacement by trading for Palmer on Tuesday.
Palmer had been available because he refused to play with Cincinnati and had been working out on his own in Southern California.
Because of his rust and unfamiliarity with his teammates and the playbook, Palmer did not start in his debut.
It didn’t end up mattering because neither quarterback was able to do much.
Boller was 7 for 14 for 61 yards and became the first Raiders quarterback to throw three interceptions in the first half since Donald Hollas in 1998 against Miami. Palmer went 8 for 21 for 116 yards with the three interceptions.
This marked the first time the Raiders had thrown six interceptions in a game since that 1998 game against the Dolphins and the Chiefs had their first six-interception game since 1984 against Seattle.
“We knew that they had a quarterback controversy,” Lewis said. “We studied film and studied their routes and that they were going to give him a limited playbook. When we had the opportunity to make big plays and capitalize, that’s what we did. And we did a good job with it.”
This was also the sixth time the Raiders have been shut out at home, with five coming since the start of the 2006 season.
Jackson was coy all week about whether Boller or Palmer would start at quarterback in Oakland’s first game since Campbell broke his collarbone.
With star running back Darren McFadden leaving in the first quarter with an injured right foot, it didn’t much matter.
Oakland moved into Kansas City territory on its first drive and tried to run a trick play on third-and-1 that backfired.
No. 3 quarterback Terrelle Pryor lined up at receiver and went in motion to behind the center and took a quick snap for a keeper. The Raiders were called for a false start because Pryor was not set for a second.
On the next play, Boller threw a pass to Jacoby Ford that Lewis stepped in front of and returned 59 yards for the touchdown to give the Chiefs a 7-0 lead.
The boos of Boller started, but Palmer remained on the sideline with a baseball hat. Boller threw his second interception on a deep pass to Denarius Moore that Flowers caught. The Chiefs then drove 61 yards for a score on McClain’s 1-yard run.
Boller finally got the Raiders moving with some good runs by Michael Bush before Derrick Johnson stuffed him on fourth down at the 1 when Jackson called for a direct snap to the running back.
The Raiders drove to the Chiefs 36 late in the first half before Boller underthrew Darrius Heyward-Bey and was intercepted by Brandon Carr. Not that Palmer felt any better matching Boller’s mark.
“It was just an awful feeling walking off the field to be beat like that in the fashion that we were beat,” Palmer said. “We need to regroup.”
Notes: Kansas City’s previous biggest road win over the Raiders was 32-10 in 1966. ... This was the sixth time the Raiders have been shut out at home, with five coming since the start of the 2006 season. ... Raiders TE Kevin Boss left with a concussion.