OAKLAND – Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyvon Branch made his return to the Bay area Sunday in emphatic fashion.
A member of the Raiders for seven seasons (2008-14), Branch totaled four tackles (three solo) against his former team.
But he also put the final nail in the Raiders’ coffin with an interception returned for a 38-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter in the 34-20 win.
“You hope stuff like that happen,” Branch said. “Today I was blessed that it happened for me.”
Branch’s return was low key when compared to rookie Marcus Peters’ homecoming, but teammates knew the game was important to Branch.
“It was crazy because Ty didn’t say much about it all week,” cornerback Sean Smith said, “but we knew deep down inside this was a game he definitely wanted to win. So we wanted to come out here and make sure we all balled out for him. To see him get that pick and seal the deal for us, that’s big man. That was definitely a big play for him and a big play for him.”
Branch said he planned to frame the football, but he also appreciated being back in Oakland and the support he received.
“I had a lot of good years out here,” Branch said. “Raider nation showed me a lot of love.”
FORD RELISHED FIRST CAREER START
Outside linebacker Dee Ford started in place of Justin Houston, who was out with a knee injury, and totaled a tackle and quarterback hit.
Ford expressed excitement in the days leading to Sunday knowing he would make his first career start since being selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
But he preferred to not allow the moment to get too big.
“I really didn’t think too much on it,” Ford said. “I just wanted to prepare and know what was coming and know that it was going to be a fight like it was today. I didn’t want to get too high or too low. I just wanted to go out there and make some plays.”
The second-year pro also points out it didn’t take long for him to settle down once the game started.
“It was after the first drive,” he said. “They threw some things at us and we adjusted to them. But for the most part, they did everything we knew that they were going to do – just a couple things different. For the most part, I felt comfortable.”
Ford’s biggest impact arrived in the third quarter when he combined with defensive end Jaye Howard to hit Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, resulting in the ball popping out.
Inside linebacker Josh Mauga picked off the errant pass and returned it 66 yards to set up a Chiefs’ touchdown.
WEST GOOD TO GO
The Chiefs had two healthy running backs and utilized a committee approach with Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, alternating series between the two.
“I just had to stay loose, man,” West said. “They were just trying to see what I could do.”
The touches between the two running backs were split.
West had nine carries for 35 yards, adding two catches for 9 yards on three targets. Ware totaled seven carries for 26 yards and a touchdown, with two catches for -1 yard on two targets.
While West didn’t find the end zone, he was happy to be in action after not playing in Week 12 after suffering a hamstring injury in Week 11.
“We got a win, that’s all that matters,” West said. “I’m just glad I made it out and didn’t have no setbacks, so that’s a positive.”