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Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said the team realizes the stakes for this game.

Winston was downright brutal in the first half, completing just 8 of 16 passes for 71 yards. He was better in the second half, leading the Bucs to a near comeback. But the early damage was done. Winston ended his night with 334 yards and a touchdown on 26-of-46 passing.

Perhaps the Patriots defense finally woke up after being the worst in the league over the past three weeks, but Winston’s performance simply wasn’t good enough. He badly overthrew his receivers, sailing passes over their heads multiple times. He got happy feet in the pocket, panicking and dumping off checkdowns instead of waiting for receivers to get open. He should’ve had an interception that went through a Patriots defender’s hands. He didn’t throw his first touchdown until deep into the fourth quarter, and his heroic comeback efforts were too little, too late.

We’re looking at that. A lot of times you got someone in there, you got a missed tackle, you got everyone else coming through the ball, you got a pileup going and he squirts out. It’s just not acceptable. They shouldn’t happen and we understand that.

A bounce-back win over the Raiders this week coupled with a home win against the Denver Broncos (3-2) next week would give the Chiefs a commanding lead in the division and put them in the driver’s seat for the AFC’s top playoff seed at the season’s midpoint.

We understand where we’re at, we understand what happened Sunday, Smith said. I think a little bit you’re flushing that. You realize what a big game this is — on the road, short week, division game, Raiders. I think that’s enough said. We’ve got to go full steam ahead, do whatever we can to get a win.

The short week, however, presents a different set of challenges. Del Rio knows from experience, having played in four Thursday games during his career as an NFL linebacker.

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