KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Tyreek Hill didn’t know what to do when he started hearing thousands of people in Arrowhead Stadium chanting his name, even as he stood all alone on the frozen turf waiting for the punt.
“Just give them what they want, I guess,” Hill thought to himself.
So he did, the rookie speedster taking the punt back 78-yards for a game-changing touchdown. It followed shortly after he had hauled in a 36-yard touchdown grab, spurring Kansas City to a 21-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders on a frosty Thursday night and into control of the AFC West.
“It gave me chills on the sideline,” said Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who had 261 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception. “The whole stadium is chanting his name and he answers — that was one of the coolest things I’ve seen, for sure.”
The Chiefs (10-3) and Raiders (10-3), longtime and bitter rivals, are now tied atop the division, but Kansas City has the tiebreaker by virtue of two head-to-head wins this season.
“This was as big as it gets for a regular-season game,” Smith said. “We don’t get caught up in all the must-win stuff, that’s not how we operate, but we knew the stakes for sure.”
Charcandrick West added a touchdown run and Travis Kelce had five catches for 101 yards as the Chiefs returned from a back-to-back road wins to beat Oakland for the seventh time in eight meetings.
It came at a big cost, though: The Chiefs lost Derrick Johnson for the rest of the season after the star linebacker ruptured his left Achilles just before halftime.
“I felt a little bit of a letdown when it happened,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid acknowledged, “but the last thing D.J. would have wanted was a letdown.”
Derek Carr was just 17 of 41 for 117 yards passing for Oakland, but the ugly line wasn’t entirely his fault. Seth Roberts dropped just about everything thrown at him, Amari Cooper couldn’t adjust to a long throw for a would-be touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and several more passes were dropped to the rock-hard turf of Arrowhead Stadium on a night when wind chills approached single digits.
Latavius Murry led the Raiders with 103 yards rushing and a touchdown.
“I liked our effort, just didn’t like the execution,” said Jack Del Rio, who remained winless in four tries against Kansas City as the Raiders’ coach. “In all three phases we came up a little short.”
That includes the way they defended Hill, one of the game’s bright young stars.
He scorched the Raiders for a 36-yard TD reception before bringing his punt back, in the process becoming the first rookie since Gale Sayers in 1965 with touchdowns on the ground, through the air and on punt and kickoff returns in a single season.
“I didn’t know that,” he said. “I mean, that’s great, but I’m not the only one on that field doing it. Without those guys blocking for me, and Alex throwing me the rock, none of that stuff would happen.”
It was still 21-3 when Johnson went down, and his injury seemed to briefly deflate the Kansas City defense. Oakland proceeded to march 92 yards for its lone touchdown just before halftime.
But the Raiders kept coming up empty with their chances in the second half.
Smith threw a pick on the second play of the third quarter, but Oakland had to settle for a field goal. And when Smith was strip-sacked by Khalil Mack on the next play, the Raiders again had to try a field goal — only this time, holder Marquette King couldn’t get the snap down.
The Raiders’ last chance came with about two minutes left, when a questionable pass interference penalty and a fourth-and-4 conversion got them deep into Kansas City territory. But after a false start on fourth-and-1, Carr’s pass toward the end zone was batted incomplete.
The Chiefs went on to pick up the first down they needed to put the game away.
“It was definitely a bad night. There’s no getting around that,” Carr said. “I hate to have the bad night come on this one, right? Out of all the games that we’ve had. Obviously, we didn’t do enough.”
Kelce has had at least 100 yards receiving in four straight games, matching the franchise record set by Tony Gonzalez. The only tight end with such a streak is Jimmy Graham, who has done it twice.
Mack had a strip-sack for the third straight game, and a sack in his eighth straight dating to the Raiders’ loss to Kansas City in October. That matches Lance Johnstone for the longest streak in franchise history since sacks became official in 1982.
Johnson appeared to know he had ruptured his Achilles the moment he went down. He ruptured his other Achilles in 2014 and missed the remainder of that season. … Defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches left with back spasms and did not return.
Raiders offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele was a late scratch with an illness that sent him to the hospital, though Del Rio said he’ll be able to travel home with the team. Safety Karl Joseph was inactive with a toe injury and defensive tackle Stacy McGee was sidelined by an ankle injury.
Oakland remains in the AFC West when it heads to slumping San Diego on Dec. 18.
Kansas City continues its three-game homestand Dec. 18 against Tennessee.
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