OAKLAND — Watching Jamaal Charles take a screen pass 49 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage was painful enough for Oakland’s beleaguered defense.
The fact that he repeated that play three more times was outright embarrassing.
Charles 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 on Sunday to clinch a playoff spot.
“That’s hard, man, to watch a guy run up and down the field like that, basically untouched,” defensive back Charles Woodson said.
Charles did it all day long, catching eight passes for 195 yards in the third-most productive receiving day by a running back since the 1970 merger. The Chiefs (11-3) scored the most points ever against the Raiders (4-10) and became the fourth team ever to make the playoffs a year after losing at least 14 games.
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.
The 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 two under coach Dennis Allen to convince owner Mark Davis to keep him around for a third season.
“We get paid out there to play, we get paid out there to not let these guys light up the scoreboard the way they did,” cornerback Tracy Porter said. “They did, in fact, what we didn’t want them to do. We have no one to blame but ourselves.”
There is not questioning the progress the Chiefs have made in their first year under coach Andy Reid. He took over a team that went 2-14 a year ago in a season troubled by the murder-suicide involving Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who shot to death the mother of his infant child before turning the gun on himself.
“It’s a feeling that you want everyone to have,” linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “It’s a great feeling. What we went through last year to be in this situation and have an opportunity to do some big things, clinching the playoffs before the season’s over, it’s great.”
The addition of quarterback Alex Smith to a talented roster that featured six Pro Bowl players also helped. Smith threw five TD passes, going 17 for 20 for 287 yards.
“Anytime you can be a part of the turnaround, it’s a special feeling,” Smith said. “These guys have worked hard and deserve a ton of credit. It’s special to be a part of this.”
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.
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 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.
“We were anticipating screens,” Allen said. “We just didn’t play them as well as we needed to play them.”
The Chiefs built a 35-10 lead before the Raiders scored three straight touchdowns to make it a game late in the third quarter. It quickly became a blowout again.
On a third-and-1, Smith found Charles on a wheel route down the sideline for a completion. Charles then cut toward the middle and raced in for the 71-yard score that tied Abner Haynes’ team record set in 1961 against the Raiders with five TDs in a game.
The Chiefs put the game away after Taiwan Jones fumbled the ensuing kickoff, setting up a 6-yard TD pass to Sean McGrath that made it 49-21.
Knile Davis’ 17-yard run midway through the fourth quarter gave the Chiefs the highest-scoring game in the NFL this season and the most points ever scored against the Raiders, breaking the mark of 55 last reached by Baltimore in 2012.
The Raiders were officially eliminated from the playoff chase for the 11th straight season shortly before kickoff and played like a team going nowhere.
NOTES: Chiefs OL Eric Fisher left the game with an injured left shoulder. … The seven turnovers by Oakland were the most for the team since seven against Miami in 1998.