The Kansas City Chiefs were once an undefeated powerhouse, a solid squad that many thought would challenge for supremacy in the AFC.
That seems like a long time ago.
Andy Reid's squad is 6-6 now after losing a tough one to the New York Jets on Sunday, 38-31. It was the Chiefs' sixth loss in seven games and did little to calm the nerves of panicked fans who think their team is in the middle of an ugly collapse.
"You just continue to fight and try to win a game," quarterback Alex Smith said. "We've been in some close ones a bunch here lately and have come out on the wrong side. Keep fighting and try to find a way. We know we have a couple of big division games coming up, so you have to assess this and get ready."
The Chiefs still control their future because they are tied for first in the AFC West with Oakland and the Los Angeles Chargers, each of whom won Sunday to improve to 6-6.
Kansas City is home against the Raiders and Chargers the next two weeks, when the Chiefs will know a lot more about themselves - and this season.
"You look back and correct the mistakes that we made and pick the urgency level up and go get ourselves better," Reid said. "I've been around this thing long enough to know that things happen and it's not going to get changed around unless everybody's doing better, and that's what we've got to do."
First on the list might be better discipline; the Chiefs' lack thereof with the game on the line cost them against the Jets.
Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 21-yard field goal to put the Jets (5-7) ahead 33-31 with 3:55 left. But Kansas City's Bennie Logan was called for a personal foul for hitting long snapper Thomas Hennessy in the head on the play, prolonging the drive.
After two running plays, Josh McCown threw incomplete, but Steven Nelson was penalized for defensive holding. Three plays later, McCown kept the ball and shoved his way into the end zone.
McCown's pass on the 2-point conversion fell incomplete, but Nelson was then called for holding. An enraged Marcus Peters picked up the penalty flag and tossed it into the stands, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Elijah McGuire ran it in moments later to convert the 2-point play and make it 38-31.
"Probably a little frustration there," Reid said. "I'm not saying that they shouldn't have been called. I've got to look at the tape on that. "
Here are some other things to know from the Chiefs-Jets slug fest at MetLife Stadium:
The Jets entered having lost five of their last six, with their playoff hopes fading fast. They matched their win total from last season with an impressive victory - and still have the postseason in their sights.
"I don't know any other way to say it, but, yes, we all believe that," McCown said. "That's the mindset that we have. Like I said from Day 1, the chemistry is special in that group, and I think there is a lot of belief and trust in one another and we believe we can do it."
Smith has taken a lot of the heat for the Chiefs' struggles, but the veteran was solid in this one.
Smith was 19 of 33 for 366 and four touchdowns - two each to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce - and even had a 70-yard run, the longest by an NFL quarterback this season. He also became the first QB since the 1970 merger to have a 70-yard run and a pass of 70 or more yards (79 to Hill) in the same game.
"Alex played his tail off and is one of the best competitors in the NFL," Kelce said. "I'm sick of hearing Alex Smith is the reason we aren't winning. We went out and battled."
Darrelle Revis made his debut for the Chiefs after signing last week but only played the first half.
The former Jets star started for Kansas City and had five total tackles before watching the final two quarters from the sideline.
"He was up to 39 snaps and that's plenty for him," Reid said. "He's just getting back into the game. It's hard to say on that, but I appreciate him out there competing and that's what he did."
Bowles benched both linebacker Darron Lee and Muhammad Wilkerson for disciplinary reasons. Lee was inactive after being late for a practice during the week, while Wilkerson sat most of the first half for being late to a team meeting.
Wilkerson has taken on a bigger role as a team leader, but this marked the third time in his career that he has been punished for tardiness. He finished with a team-leading six tackles and a half-sack.
Kansas City's Harrison Butker was wide right on a 38-yard attempt in the second quarter, ending his franchise record of 23 straight field goals made. ... New York wide receiver Robby Anderson had his streak of five straight games with a TD catch end, but he finished with eight receptions for 107 yards.
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