KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It took a lackluster first half for the Chiefs offense to wake up in a penalty-filled game.
The Chiefs (8-6) scored 21 third-quarter points to escape the Oakland Raiders’ (2-12) threat of a season sweep by way of a 31-13 win at Arrowhead Stadium.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith put together his best passing performance of the season, throwing for 297 yards, besting his 295-yard performance last week in Arizona.
A sluggish first half for both teams called for 12 penalties, six for each side. The Chiefs finished the game with 11 penalties for 84 yards, while the Raiders finished with 10 penalties for 75 yards.
Smith threw for 165 yards in the first half, but struggled to convert on third down. As a team in the first half, the Chiefs were 1-for-7 on such plays, finishing 3-of-13 on the game.
“You only get so many opportunities and I think guys understand that,” Smith said. “You don’t want to let a team hang around and give them hope.”
Chiefs rookie running back De’Anthony Thomas provided a much-needed spark in the first quarter when he ran a punt back 81 yards for a touchdown just under three minutes.
“Great blocking from the guys up front, holding those gunners down,” Thomas said. “It was just a great play to get the tempo going for our offense.
Smith appreciated the timing of the big play.
“I think it really kick started our momentum that we finally got going, got us on the scoreboard,” he said. “Felt like we were moving it well and executing.”
Thomas had 156 punt return yards, which is good for second on the all-time Chiefs’ list, behind Dexter McCluster’s 177 yards against Washington on Dec. 8, 2013.
Smith found three different wide receivers in a drive that spanned from the end of the first quarter in the early minutes of the second. Smith found 10 different receivers on the day.
Rookie kicker Cairo Santos completed the drive with a missed field goal from 44 yards out, snapping a 14-converted field goal streak.
Santos went 1-of-3 on the day, making a 41 yarder and missing from 47 and 44 yards, respectively.
Oakland kicker Sebastian Janiskowski drilled a 53-yard field goal to put his team on the board in the final seconds of the first half.
The Chiefs had a 10-3 advantage at the half.
Janikowski made a 33 yarder four minutes into the second half to cut the lead to four.
Oakland quarterback David Carr tossed a 1-yard touchdown in the final minute of the game.
Chiefs running back Knile Davis was the main benefactor of the successful third quarter as the Chiefs put the game out of reach.
Davis scored on a 3-yard touchdown run and was on the receiving end of Smith’s longest completion of the season, a 70-yard touchdown connection.
“I couldn’t believe it, man. It happened exactly like practice; I just didn’t want anyone to catch me,” Davis said on his touchdown catch and run. “For me, it’s just a dream to be in the NFL, so to make a big play and help this team win, it’s just huge.”
Oakland had 57 rushing yards in the first half and only 21 in the final quarters. Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali said he was a little surprised the Raiders attempted 56 passes.
Even with Oakland’s heavy pass load, the Chiefs’ defense limited the its rushing game to just 78 yards on 17 attempts.
“They stuck to the run back at their place and they didn’t really come after the run (today),” Hali said.
Kelce leading pass catcher
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce had a team-high five receptions, one being a 20-yard touchdown grab in the third quarter, his fourth of the season.
Kelce coughed up a fumble in the opening drive of the second half, giving the Raiders possession at KC’s own 10-yard line. Oakland only managed a field goal, though.
Houston records another sack
Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston recorded an NFL-leading 17th sack of the season in the first quarter.
Houston is three sacks shy of tying Derrick Thomas for the Chiefs’ all-time record.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said running back Jamaal Charles went through concussion protocol after taking a hit prior to Davis’ 3-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Linebacker Josh Mauga left the game with an oblique sprain and will be evaluated “in the next day or so.”
Defensive tackle Jaye Howard suffered a shoulder strain and wasn’t pulled until later in the game.
The Chiefs take to the road in Week 16, hoping to keep its playoff hopes alive against Pittsburgh (9-5).
The game airs at noon CT on CBS.