Why the Chiefs fell just short in a game of missed opportunities - KCTV5

Why the Chiefs fell just short in a game of missed opportunities

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(AP) (AP)
KANSAS CITY, MO (FOOTBALLKC) -

Through the first five weeks of the NFL season, there wasn’t much that made Chiefs fans all that mad. A 5-0 start, two legitimate MVP candidates, a high-powered offense, ball hawking defense and a feeling that maybe this was the year.

Now after a 19-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that’s bested the Chiefs in six of their last seven matchups including a playoff game, Chiefs fans have plenty to complain about this time.

Football is the ultimate team game, and Sunday goes down as an ultimate team loss. In the day’s the follow, leading up to a Thursday night matchup with the Raiders, fans can spread the blame a number of ways.

It starts at the top with head coach Andy Reid. Hind sight’s 20/20, and Reid ultimately made the wrong decision, or the wrong play call, on 4th and 2 in the Steelers red zone in the 4th quarter. Kicking a field goal would have cut the Steeler lead to just one possession, likely altering at least a portion of the rest of the game.

Quarterback is the position that gets all the love, and all the hate, and Alex Smith has to own some of the blame on Sunday as well. After five weeks of exceptional play, Smith was not as good as the Chiefs needed him to be. He made a number of plays that kept the Chiefs in the game, but also missed multiple open targets that likely would have been the difference.

The offensive line goes hand in hand with quarterback play, and Sunday’s unit had to go to battle without three day one starters, Mitch Morse, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Parker Ehinger. The make shift line allowed three sacks and consistent pressure throughout, while Zach Fulton had one snap sail over Smith’s head for a safety. The run blocking was not any better, and the line must improve no matter who gets the start.

The receiving group is even more depleted, playing the final drive of the game without the team’s top three wide receivers. But it was clear the team missed Chris Conley and Albert Wilson to some degree, as the passing game couldn’t get going until the prevent defense kicked in late in the game.

The defensive front-seven showed virtually no improvement from the Steelers playoff game, despite having a fully healthy group. Le’Veon Bell rushed for 179 yards, averaging a staggering 5.6 yards per carry, while there was zero pass rush outside of a first quarter Dee Ford sack.

The secondary turned in one turnover from Marcus Peters, but finish with a stat line of 252 passing yards allowed and an average of 10 yards every time the ball left Ben Roethlisberger’s hand. Cornerback Phillip Gaines had probably the game’s most frustrating play, as a would-be 4th quarter interception bounced off his helmet, into Antonio Brown’s hands, for a Steeler score.

It’s truly a team loss, one where no player, play or decision should whether all the blame. The positive spin is, if one or two of these area’s fall in the Chiefs’ favor, Kansas City probably wins this game.

The Chiefs have won when playing their A-game, B-game and even C-game for some quarters, but on Sunday they almost were charged with high way robbery in a game they had no business winning.

It’s a sign of a very good team when you can play below-average football across the field and walk away a few plays away from victory.

Alas, a loss is a loss, and the Chiefs need to be much better. Kansas City fans have every right to exercise that anger that has gone untapped for the first five weeks of the season.

But when Monday morning hits, the Chiefs will still hold the best record in all of football. A fact that should suppress at least some of that anger, if only for a moment.

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