Picture downtrodden Chucky with a frown and a wet blanket, rather than maniacal Chucky with a grin and a blade.
“Well, it is satisfying,” Gruden said after dropping 37 points on the Broncos while picking off four passes, racking up two sacks, forcing a fumble and limiting Denver to zero yards in the third quarter of a 37-12 win that improved the Raiders to 6-3, 3-0 in the AFC West.
And yet …
“But we don’t have much time to celebrate,” Gruden added. “As you know, we have to play the Chiefs this week.”
Ah yes, the defending Super Bowl champions. A juggernaut that has lost all of one game in the last calendar year. And, of course, that defeat came at the hands of (to quote Gruden), as you know, Gruden’s Raiders.
Back on Oct. 11. At Arrowhead Stadium. Which was followed, to quote Gruden again, as you know, by a victory lap around the stadium by the team bus. Much to Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s chagrin.
“They won the game, so they can do anything they want to do,” an irritated Reid said Monday. “That’s not our style.”
Gruden was amused.
“I mean, you can find a smart-aleck bus driver in Kansas City who made some snide comments when we got on the bus,” Gruden said Monday. “Maybe that’s why we drove around the stadium — to tick him off. You know, this is ridiculous. Next question.”
Gruden was still smiling, though.
Raiders-Chiefs week is always a big deal in Raider Nation and Chiefs Kingdom, even if one team is dominating the series, as Kansas City has since Reid landed as Chiefs coach in 2013.
Since then, the Chiefs have won 12 of 15 meetings.
But when you break it down further, a strange scheduling quirk reveals itself — this will be the fourth time in five seasons, the third year in a row, that Kansas City will face the Raiders as the Chiefs come off their bye week.
“I’m sure that’s just a coincidence,” a now irritated Gruden said, his tongue pressed firmly in cheek. “You know, I’m sure it’s a coincidence.”
A four-second pregnant pause ensued.
“I don’t think about it,” Gruden continued. “The schedule is the schedule. You’ve got to adapt to it and that’s what we’ll do.”
Consider: in the previous three meetings between the teams that have followed Kansas City’s bye, the Chiefs are 3-0 and have outscored the Raiders by a combined 106-52, or by an average score of 35-17.
The last two such meetings, in 2018 and 2019, have occurred in Week 13, in Oakland and then in Kansas City.
This one, obviously, is different in that it will go down in Las Vegas. And the Raiders are essentially playing with house money, with a win over the Chiefs in hand and an eye on a potential playoff spot.
“Always excited to win,” said Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who got one monkey off his back with his first victory at Arrowhead Stadium in seven tries.
“[Being] 6-3 and 3-0 in the division is a big deal. The division still goes through Kansas City.”
As it did in 2016, the last time the Raiders had a winning record and went to the playoffs. Both the Raiders and Chiefs were 12-4 but Kansas City won the division by virtue of its season sweep of the Raiders. And, ahem, as you know, the first meeting that year came after a Chiefs bye, in Week 5, when Kansas City entered that game 2-2.
Coincidence? Meh. It does not matter. Not when the Chiefs are living rent-free in Las Vegas’ head.
For this week at least.
“Jeff [Heath] made a big play that ignited us against the Chiefs,” Gruden said, comparing Heath’s two first-half interceptions against Denver to his fourth-quarter pick of Patrick Mahomes in the Raiders’ 40-32 win at Kansas City last month. “And boy, we’re going to need him next week because we have a great team coming to town.
“You have a lot of respect for how hard it is to win in this league and you try to enjoy it for a couple hours and then you have to get up early and get ready for the next one. And this is a big one, obviously.”
As you know.