Chiefs surge into playoffs with win over Raiders

The playoff-bound Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) capped their phenomenal comeback season with a 23-17 win on Sunday over the Oakland Raiders (7-9). Here's what you need to know:

  1. Denver's win over the Chargers kept the Chiefs from taking the AFC West, but Kansas City's season is far from over with a wild-card showdown scheduled for next week in Houston against the Texans. Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense came roaring out of the gate to build a 14-0 lead before the veteran quarterback tossed a pair of interceptions -- including a pick six to David Amerson -- which helped the Raiders pull within four at the half. The uncharacteristic turnovers aside, Smith deserves more credit for capping a season that saw him throw for a career-high in yardage (3,486) and run for a personal-best 498 yards on the ground. Smith knows that a playoff win can do plenty for his often-unfair game-manager image.
  1. A wild sequence of events turned this seemingly out-of-reach contest into a wild one in the final quarter. After the Chiefs botched a wacky fake field goal attempt with 3:23 left, the Raiders took over trailing 23-10. Carr then hit Michael Crabtree on a 31-yard touchdown strike before Oakland shut down Kansas City to get the ball back down 23-17 with 1:34 remaining. While time ran out against a smothering Chiefs defense, it was another example of how this season's Raiders were a different breed than the dead-on-arrival Oakland teams of old.
  1. Pro Bowl safety Charles Woodson's first game as a pro came at Arrowhead Stadium in a Week 1 tilt back in 1998. His sensational 18-year career closed Sunday in the same venue amid a flock of players who were still building Legos when Woodson entered the NFL. Raiders rookie wideout Amari Cooper was four years old when Woodson logged his first pro snaps while Chiefs rookie cornerback Marcus Peters was just five. Woodson showed good range on Sunday and looks like he could easily play another year if he so desired.
  1. Winning 10 straight after a 1-5 start, Andy Reid deserves genuine attention as a Coach of the Year candidate. He isn't likely to surpass Bruce Arians or Ron Rivera, but how many coaches did more with their rosters this season? Written off after Jamaal Charles was lost for the year, Reid's club never gave in. As for the Raiders, the flock of young talent on offense -- Carr, Cooper, running back Latavius Murray and tight end Clive Walford -- and building blocks on defense -- Khalil Mack and Mario Edwards Jr. -- make Oakland far from a lost cause.
  1. Michael Crabtree came 78 receiving yards short of 1,000 on the year, which would have made this Raiders offense the first in franchise history with a 3,000-yard passer (Carr), 1,000-yard rusher (Murray) and two 1,000-yard receivers (Cooper and Crabtree). Nobody in August predicted Crabtree signing a five-year, $34 million contract, but he earned that extension with one of the season's more surprising comeback stories. Still, Oakland can't touch what the Chiefs have accomplished during a memorable regular season.
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