OAKLAND - Jamaal Charles carried the Kansas City Chiefs straight into the playoffs with a record performance.
Charles tied a franchise record with five touchdowns in a game and gained 215 yards from scrimmage as the Chiefs beat the Raiders, 56-31, yesterday to clinch at least a wild-card spot in Andy Reid's first year in KC.
Alex Smith threw five TD passes, going 17 for 20 for 287 yards to make the Chiefs the fourth team ever 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.
Matt McGloin threw four interceptions and lost a fumble while sharing time with Terrelle Pryor as Oakland (4-10) allowed the most points in franchise history and lost its fourth straight game. The Raiders had seven turnovers overall.
"A big part of this team depends on me," Charles said. "Once I'm healthy this offense can go a long way and this team can go a long way."
The Raiders' performance drew constant boos from a crowd frustrated over 11 straight seasons without a winning record and raise questions about whether the Raiders are showing enough progress in Year 2 under coach Dennis Allen to convince owner Mark Davis to keep him around for a third season.
There is not questioning the progress the Chiefs have made under Reid. He took over a 2-14 team and authored an impressive turnaround.
The addition of Smith to a talented roster that featured six Pro Bowl players also helped. Charles was one of those Pro Bowlers a year ago but he never had a game quite like this even though he only rushed for 20 yards in eight carries.
He did most of his work in the passing game, beating blitzes with screen passes and also having success running patterns downfield. He caught eight passes for 195 yards and four touchdowns in the third-most productive receiving day by a running back since the 1970 merger.