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Oakland, Calif. • Jamaal Charles was taken aback when he caught a screen pass on the first play from scrimmage and raced 49 yards for a score
"I thought I was going to get hugged on the screen plays," he said. "I was surprised. When I saw nobody on me I was like, 'Whoa I have to go.'"
Charles kept going all game long. He set a running back record with four TD catches and also ran for a score to tie Kansas City's single-game record for touchdowns as the Chiefs beat the Raiders 56-31 Sunday to clinch a playoff spot.
Charles caught eight passes for 195 yards and four touchdowns in the most productive receiving day by a running back since Marshall Faulk had 204 yards in 1999 against Chicago.
Charles also had 20 yards rushing and joined Shaun Alexander, Jerry Rice and Clinton Portis as the only players since the merger to score five touchdowns and gain at least 200 yards from scrimmage in a single game.
"I don't know how anybody can be more valuable to a team and the success that we've had than he has," coach Andy Reid said.
Alex Smith threw four of his five TD passes to Charles, going 17 for 20 for 287 yards to make the Chiefs the fourth team to make the playoffs a year after losing at least 14 games. Kansas City (11-3) is tied for first place in the AFC West with Denver but needs help to win the division because the Broncos swept the season series.
Here are five things to take away from the Chiefs win over the Raiders:
NEAR RECORD: Charles had five touchdowns in the first three quarters before sitting out the rest of the game and missing a chance to tie the record of six held by Ernie Nevers, Dub Jones and Gale Sayers. Charles said he was ready to go back in for a sixth but Reid opted to rest him. Charles said he would have gotten a chance if the team got close to the end zone, but that chance ended when Knile Davis scored on a 17-yard run midway through the fourth.
"If Knile had kneeled at the 1-yard line they would have let me go in," he said. "It didn't happen. Everything happened for a reason."
SHORT PASSES, BIG GAINS: Smith threw for a career-high five touchdowns and posted a perfect passer rating. Yet Smith is the first to acknowledge he had plenty of help in doing it. In fact, the five touchdown passes traveled a combined 13 yards down field with 168 yards after catch.
"I didn't do much," Smith said. "I mean three screens for touchdowns. I've never been a part of anything like that or seen that. Pretty special. Those guys making me look good."
QUARTERBACK QUANDRY: The Raiders mixed in Terrelle Pryor at quarterback as a change-of-pace throughout the game. They even went from Matt McGloin to Pryor back to McGloin on a touchdown drive in the third quarter as part of a plan to provide an offensive spark. While the Raiders did score a season-high 31 points, neither quarterback played particularly well and they combined for six turnovers.
"We're getting used to it," McGloin said. "We do it throughout practice and throughout the course of the week. The coaches are doing what they feel puts us in the best position to win, and I'm on board for that."
TURNING IT OVER: The Chiefs got off to a 9-0 start this season thanks to a defense that excelled at taking the ball away. That aspect was lacking during a recent three-game skid, but was back again on Sunday. Kansas City intercepted McGloin four times, Pryor once and recovered two fumbles. Eric Berry returned one of the interceptions 47 yards for a score, tying a team record with the 11th return touchdown of the season.
"I just read the quarterback's eyes and tried to take it to the house," Berry said.
DOOMED DEFENSE: All that defensive improvement the Raiders showed in the first half of the season when they were among the top defensive teams has all disappeared in recent weeks. Oakland has allowed 34.7 points per game the last seven weeks and has given up at least 49 points in two of its last three home games. The Raiders allowed that many points just three times in the first 406 home games in franchise history.
"We get paid out there to not let these guys light up the scoreboard the way they did," cornerback Tracy Porter said. "We have no one to blame but ourselves."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org