The Raiders racked up a gigantic win on Sunday, beating the Chiefs in Kansas City and emerging as the biggest threat to the Chiefs’ presumed dominance of the AFC West. After the game, I asked Raiders safety Jeff Heath (who intercepted Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes) to explain what Las Vegas did to slow down (relatively speaking) the Chiefs’ offense.
“I think [the coaching staff] came up with a really good plan to defend what Kansas City does best,” Heath said by phone. “At the end of the day it’s just a football team full of guys just like we are. They can be beat on any day and we knew we were going to have to bring our ‘A’ game and we knew it was going to be a fight. They weren’t going to go down easy. They got great players. They got probably the best player in the league playing quarterback. It’s just one of those games where you’re going to have to play all four quarters, they’re going to make plays but you just can’t blink you’ve got to keep believing, keep executing, and see what happens. Don’t look at the scoreboard.”
Look at this next explanation from Heath when I asked for a specific example of what they did to slow down the Kansas City offense.
“Obviously [Mahomes is] so good at extending the play and just creating time and then once he does he can really throw the ball all over the field,” Heath said. “He’s got an amazing arm, and he’s got speed all over the place. Our goal was really just once he gets out of the pocket we had to plaster — we knew it was going to be a lot of long downs. We knew where they like to get some of their fast players and how they like to use them so we had to plan for that.”
Heath stopped himself from sharing too much about the defensive game plan.
“I’m not gonna be too specific because we may have to use that plan again,” he said with a laugh. “We just have to have awareness for where number 10 is, where number 17 is, where 87 is, how they can use those guys. Then at the end of the day it turns into backyard football, man. You just got to cover. You know he’s going to extend the play, buy time, throw the ball all over the place. That was really the plan.”
So what does this win mean to the Raiders?
“It was just a big win,” Heath said. “A big divisional win. We’ve got our bye this week, so it’s always good going into our bye week after a big ‘W.’ But you know what, man? It doesn’t really mean a whole lot because we’ve still got 11 more games. Still have a lot of good teams left on our schedule. We’ve got to see them again. I think all it means is that we’ve played in these first five games we’ve played some of the best teams in the NFL. We’ve won some, we’ve lost some. I think we just know that we can play with anybody and if we’re on our stuff and we play to the best to our ability, yeah, we can play with anybody, we can beat anybody. That’s really all it means. But I’ve been in this league long enough to understand that we can enjoy this one a little longer because we have the bye, but we have a tough Tampa team next week with the greatest player of all time playing quarterback, so it’s going to be another tough game. ‘
That next game will be on Sunday Night Football, with Brady and company visiting the Raiders and the only coach who took Tampa Bay to a Super Bowl.