By Matt Derrick
OAKLAND — Every offense needs a receiver that does the dirty work, whether it’s blocking in the run game, running rub routes that free up other pass catchers or simply pushing hard in practice to keep everyone on their toes. When that guy catches lightning in a bottle, such as Demarcus Robinson did in the Chiefs’ 28-10 win over the Raiders, it brings a smile to the face of head coach Andy Reid.
“There’s nobody that epitomizes the do your job and don’t worry about the results, don’t worry about any credit or anything else,” than Robinson, Reid said. “He kind of does all the dirty work. Then you know, this today, which was beautiful.”
With Tyreek Hill out of the lineup due to an injury, Robinson stepped in as the offense’s deep threat stretching the field. He took advantage of the opportunity, establishing new career highs across the board with six catches for 172 yards and two scores. This marked the first 100-yard receiving game of his career – in the first 49 regular-season games of his four-year NFL career prior to Sunday, Robinson had a total of 44 catches for 500 yards.
After all this time, it felt good to help his team in such a big way.
“It’s always been my time to come out and try to make some plays,” Robinson said. “My number was called today, I felt good and I made a couple of plays today.”
It didn’t look like Robinson’s dream day in the first quarter, however – or a dream day for the Chiefs. The Raiders led 10-0 and the high-flying Chiefs offense appeared out of synch. Oakland out gained Kanas City 93 to 39 in the first 15 minutes.
But Mahomes and Robinson took over on the very first play of the second quarter. From the Raiders’ 44-yard line, Robinson lined up in the slot, then split between two zone defenders. No safety help was coming over the top, leaving cornerback Gareon Conley to break off his man to chase Robinson, who had to wait a bit on the ball from Mahomes. That made the play closer than it appeared, but the Chiefs finally broke through to cut the deficit to 10-7.
There are times, Robinson explained, when the route and the coverage tells a receiver before the snap that Mahomes knows he’s has an advantage and the ball is coming your way.
“You got to think like that every play,” Robinson said. “It can come to you, somebody else can be even more wide open and it doesn’t come to them. You got to make yourself get wide open or in his vision to look wide open and he’ll find you for sure.”
That play kick started a busy second quarter for the big-play duo. Mahomes completed 12-of-17 passing for 178 yards with four touchdowns in the quarter. Robinson contributed the lion’s share of the work, catching four passes for 133 yards and two scores during the period.
Once Robinson got going, he didn’t want to slow down for a single second.
“I felt like I was on a roll, I wanted to stay in the game a lot,” he said. “I was feeling pretty good today. I asked the coach could I stay in and get a couple of more reps. He gave me a shot, and did my thing.”
Robinson received plenty of snaps on Sunday, and his second touchdown came shortly via another quick strike. The Raiders went three and out inside the 2-minute warning, and a 36-yard boot from banged up punter A.J. Cole helped set the Chiefs up at the Oakland 39-yard line with 47 seconds remaining in the half.
The Raiders, preferring to bracket Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins on the right side, left Robinson alone outside to the left with Conley. The Raiders corner was draped all over Robinson inside the 5-yard line, but the Chiefs wideout secured the ball and fell backwards on the dirt baseball field into the end zone for the score.
Repeatedly tumbling to the dirt didn’t deter Robinson, however.
“It was pretty tough out there with it being dirt, baseball field,” he said. “We could play on the concrete, man, no matter where they want they want to lineup at, we’ll give them our all.”
Reid said the Raiders decision to leave Robinson in single coverage much of the afternoon made the big day possible.
“He was singled up, and that was really it,” Reid said. “They were concentrating a little bit on Sam, they were concentrating on Kelce, and it allowed D-Rob to get out there and make some plays.”
Robinson didn’t mind waiting for his opportunity to come. He understands the Chiefs have a plethora of offensive targets, and patience is a virtue.
“We got a lot of great guys in the room, and they’ve been here longer than I have,” Robinson said. “Their number gets called more times than mine does, but today mine got called and I was able to make plays and show the coaches I can make plays too. Hopefully I get a couple of more plays.”
The 6-1, 203-pound receiver endears himself to teammates for one simple reason – he never quits and always goes full speed, whether it’s practice or game day.
“He’s a guy that’s always going to be working, he’s always trying to get open,” Mahomes said. “When his number got called today, he made big plays, and I think that’s something he’s done his whole entire career.”
Robinson takes pride in that reputation.
“I try to go out and do my best every day, and the game too, whether it’s blocking, catching, receiving,” he said. “I just try to give it my all every time.”
Mahomes said Robinson sometimes gets lost in the shuffle with the Chiefs’ depth at the skill position. But he said the hard work Robinson puts in on daily basis made Sunday all the more awesome for his teammate.
“It’s everything from catching the ball on scrambles, catching touchdowns, maybe being the last read across the middle of the field, or making the blocks and doing whatever he can to help his teammates out,” Mahomes said. “When you have guys that play hard for each other and that they finally get their time to shine, it’s always good to see that.”
In keeping with his role as a team-first guy, Robinson didn’t have to think long when asked for what stood out to him most personally on Sunday.
“I’m pleased with the W,” he said. Even if I didn’t have a game like I had today, as long as we’re winning and keep it going, I’m happy with that.”
Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and a contributor for Sports Radio 810 WHB. Follow him on Twitter @mattderrick.