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Red Raiders in the pros: Mahomes comes up clutch in first NFL start

Crabtree and Washington struggle against Lynn’s Chargers

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Lynn - HC, Los Angeles Chargers

In a must-win situation, the Lynn-led Chargers held up their end of the playoff bargain. The defense held the Oakland Raiders to just 10 points and forced two turnovers while Philip Rivers threw for 387 yards and three touchdowns. Despite the win, Coach Lynn will not be coaching in the playoffs this season because the Tennessee Titans were able to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. The fact that Lynn had this team in the playoff discussion at all after going 0-4 to start the season is impressive and should garner him some discussion for coach of the year.

Danny Amendola - WR, New England Patriots

The only thing standing between Amendola’s Patriots and home field advantage throughout the playoffs were the New York Jets. That wasn’t much of an obstacle as the Patriots jumped out early and salted away the rest of the game. Amendola played his part in the early offensive attack with four catches for 43 yards all on the first drive of the game. Three of those four catches went for first downs and played a big role in the Patriots setting the tone with an early touchdown. Amendola also contributed with 24 punt return yards off of four returns.

Le'Raven Clark - OL, Indianapolis Colts

For the second straight week, Clark both started the game at right guard and played 100 percent of the offensive snaps. The Colts ended a lowly season on a high note, knocking off the Houston Texans, 22-13. What had seemed to be a lost season for Clark has now turned into a possible job-winning performance for next season.

Michael Crabtree - WR, Oakland Raiders

Crabtree managed to improve on his performance from last week’s shutout against the Philadelphia Eagles. But, he still only had two catches for 17 yards. To be fair, he was only targeted twice the entire game. I’ll say that again. The Raider’s most effective weapon this season was only thrown to twice. Sorry, Jack Del Rio, maybe there are reasons why you got fired.

Jakeem Grant - WR, Miami Dolphins

With little to play for, the Dolphins started third-string quarterback David Fales. The change led to Grant being targeted five times. He converted three of those targets into three receptions for 26 yards. Two of those catches were good for first down conversions. Grant also returned two punts for a total of 12 return yards. The past four weeks has been Grant’s most successful run in the NFL over the past two seasons. Hopefully, it is enough for the beloved Red Raider to build upon in the offseason and earn an even bigger role next season.

Branden Jackson - DE, Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks saw their playoff hopes vanish as the Arizona Cardinals took a 26-24 lead on a game-winning field goal with two minutes left in the fourth quarter. I somehow think that those Dallas Cowboys fans I called out last week have little sympathy for Jackson’s squad. The former Red Raider’s role actually decreased from previous weeks. He only played 31 percent of the defensive snaps. Jackson also had his string of consecutive weeks with a tackle come to an end. He did, however, garner an assist on one tackle. There is no denying that Jackson earned a spot on this Seahawks defense. VTM readers can look forward to Jackson taking another big step forward next season.

Patrick Mahomes- QB, Kansas City Chiefs

Sunday afternoon was not quite what Red Raider fans had envisioned for Pat Mahomes in his first NFL Start. He had to take on the Denver Broncos defense that was ranked third in the league in terms of yardage. He had to do so with the Chiefs best weapons (Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce) on the bench. The weather wasn’t what you would call friendly. No matter for Mahomes. He completed 22 of his 35 passes for 284 yards without a touchdown toss and an interception. Hardly astounding numbers, but most importantly Mahomes led the Chiefs to a 27-24 win. He led three scoring drives and saw his team winning 24-10 before being taken out of the game so that third-stringer Tyler Bray could get some reps as well. But, the Broncos rallied to tie the game at 24, so Mahomes re-entered the game with 2:45 left in the fourth. He promptly led the Chiefs 83 yards down the field setting up a game-winning field goal. The performance prompted praise from the Bronco’s Von Miller, “Hats off to Mahomes. He's going to be the quarterback of the future. Great scrambling ability; he can scramble and throw the ball. He's going to be a great quarterback." If Alex Smith falters in the playoffs, we’ll have a full-blown quarterback controversy in KC.

DeAndre Washington - RB, Oakland Raiders

The good? Washington did not total negative yardage in his matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers. The bad? Washington only eked out three total yards between two rushing attempts and two receptions. Washington had several highlights this season, but his performance the last two weeks have been disappointing (and that’s putting it mildly). I have my doubts that Washington is going to stay a Raider through this regime change in Oakland.