The Las Vegas Raiders came up just short Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs, losing 35-31 in a key AFC West matchup. It was a difficult defeat on multiple levels for the Raiders as they blew both a late fourth-quarter lead and a chance to climb back into the divisional race.

Patrick Mahomes needed just 75 seconds to lead the Chiefs on a game-winning drive, completing a go-ahead touchdown pass to Travis Kelce with less than 30 seconds left in regulation. Kansas City moved to three games ahead of Las Vegas in the standings with six games left on the schedule, virtually wrapping up the Chiefs’ fifth straight division title.

“I don’t know, it’s hard to swallow right now,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said when asked how Las Vegas can close the gap between themselves and elite teams, via The Mercury News.

“I don’t have anything to say about that. I don’t know where we rank but we’re giving great effort. We gotta get some people back out on the field playing. Hopefully we can. We got six or seven more weeks guaranteed to us that we can hopefully take advantage of.”

Las Vegas is barely holding on to the AFC’s final playoff spot heading into Week 12. The Raiders are the No. 7 seed in the conference. The Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, and Miami Dolphins all have a 6-4 record, but Las Vegas owns the latest tiebreaker because of its conference record.

The Raiders did have victories over elite teams in the 2020 season. Las Vegas won its first matchup with Kansas City, handing the defending Super Bowl champs their only loss of the year in Week 5. In Week 2, the Raiders had a convincing win over the New Orleans Saints, who are the NFC’s No. 1 seed.

Much of the team’s success can be attributed to the quarterback. Derek Carr is having a career-year, leading one of the league’s most efficient offenses.

“I’ve felt like we’ve been in a good rhythm all year, especially today. I felt we were in a really good rhythm,” Carr told reporters. “The stats may not show it, but when we ran the ball there was some efficient runs. We were hitting some big plays again in the pass game. But, man, it just wasn’t enough.

This is the best offense I’ve ever been a part of. This group is awesome. I know I say it every week but we can win in different ways. We can smash ’em with the run game or we can do a shootout. We can do it that way. We’re proving that over time.”

Las Vegas has a favorable upcoming schedule, which could result in the team’s second playoff appearance in 18 years.

The Raiders visit the three-win Atlanta Falcons and the winless New York Jets in their next two games. The Indianapolis Colts are Las Vegas’ best remaining opponent. The Raiders should be favored when they host the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15.

A Week 16 matchup with the Dolphins could end up determining a wild-card berth. The Raiders conclude the regular season against the Denver Broncos, who Las Vegas defeated by 25 points on Nov. 15.

“...I think this team, where it’s at, it’s the third year of this program. We really feel like we can play with anybody,” Raiders tight end Jason Witten said. “That’s the type of team we expect to have.”

Derek Carr Patrick Mahomes Raiders
Quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs and Derek Carr #4 of the Las Vegas Raiders fist bump after the NFL game at Allegiant Stadium on November 22, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Christian Petersen/Getty Images