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This is the Song That Never Ends

Did you guys hear that the Kansas City Chiefs are terrible on third down this season?

Yeah, I'm sick of this too. It's like talking about the Chiefs' offensive line each week in '07. That was the big cause of our issues then and the repetition of that story got old fast.

Now we're on to third downs and why the Chiefs are so terrible at converting them, especially this past weekend when the Chiefs went 1/15 on third down. What happened on Sunday? Did the Raiders' defense shut us down? Eh, not exactly but you could make an argument for that.

I've gone through each of our third downs from the Raider game to figure out what the main cause of our third down failures were. The reasons I came up with are the general Didn't execute, Poor play calling, penalties and other. Feel free to disagree with those categorizations.

One point I want to make when I label a third down failure as Didn't execute is that that lack of execution could also have happened on first or second down, causing a long third down.

Here are the conclusions I arrived at after looking at each third down:

  • 8 were because the team didn't execute properly, either on first, second or third down;
  • 2 were near the end of the first half and were time-influenced;
  • 2 were obviously doomed by penalties;
  • 2 were poor play calls; and,
  • 1 we actually converted!

It's all there, after the jump. Have at it.

#1 3rd and 12

Q1, 11:59, KC 13-yard line

Leonard Pope's false start and a two-yard loss by Kolby Smith put the Chiefs at 3rd and 17. Then a Tommy Kelly neutral zone infraction put the Chiefs at 3rd and 12. You know the next play - Cassel picked by Raiders CB Chris Johnson.

Cause: Penalty

#2 3rd and 9

Q1, 7:30, KC 10-yard line

An exchange of five-yard penalties by the Chiefs and Raiders put the Chiefs at 3rd and 9. A 1-yard run by Kolby Smith and an incomplete by Matt Cassel didn't help on first and second down. An incomplete pass closed out third down.

Cause: Didn't execute

#3 3rd and 4

Q1, 4:58, OAK 32-yard line

This is a play you remember - Matt Cassel's short pass to Dantrell Savage was blatantly dropped. Todd Haley said on the sideline to Savage, "You don't want to play today, do you?"

Cause: Didn't execute

#4 3rd and 23

Q1, 1:02, KC 12-yard line

The Raiders defense dominated the Chiefs on this drive. Matt Cassel was sacked for an 8-yard loss on first down and Jamaal Charles was tackled 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage on second down.

Cause: Didn't execute

#5 3rd and 6

Q2, 12:37, OAK 49-yard line

The Chiefs actually gained positive yardage on this drive before they got to third down. Lance Long caught a short Cassel pass to the right side and dove out of bounds, one yard short of the first down.

Jamaal Charles' 44-yard TD run on 4th and 1 made up for this though.

Cause: Didn't execute

#6 3rd and 7

Q1, 7:02, OAK 7-yard line

This drive started with a 41-yard pass to Dwayne Bowe and a 24-yard pass to Chris Chambers. This is the drive where Cassel and Charles fumbled the exchange and then had that weird bump into each other hand off that didn't gain anything.

Cassel's pass to Bowe on 3rd down was off the mark, high and out of the end zone.

Cause: Didn't execute

#7 3rd and 8

Q2, 4:44, KC 35-yard line

An incomplete pass to Mark Bradley and a short run by Jamaal Charles set the Chiefs up for third and long. Cassel passed short right to Chris Chambers and he powered his way to a six yard gain before being brought down near the sideline.

Cause: Didn't execute

#8 3rd and 8

Q2, 1:34, KC 21-yard line

The Chiefs had the ball with under two minutes to go and Kolby Smith's 7-yard run on third down was an attempt to force a Raider time out and waste some time.

Cause: Nearing end of half, deep in our own territory

#9 3rd and 5

Q2, :10, KC 29-yard line

This third down was at the end of the first half. Jamaal Charles' rush for no gain was to run out the clock at KC's 29-yard line.

Cause: End of half

#10 3rd and 10

Q3, 13:41, KC 38-yard line

And we have our lone converted third down of the game! Cassel hit Dwayne Bowe on the left side of the field for an awesome first down.

Cause: We got it!

#11 3rd and 7

Q3, 10:53, OAK 34-yard line

The Chiefs again lost yards on first down (-2 by Jamaal Charles) and Matt Cassel had an incomplete pass to Leonard Pope on second down. Cassel's pass to Bowe on third down fell incomplete, which led to a missed Ryan Succop field goal.

Cause: Didn't execute

#12 3rd and 9

Q3, 2:38, OAK 14-yard line

The Chiefs again failed on first and second down which led to a third and long. Kolby Smith's run up the middle only gained one yard on first down; Cassel's pass across the middle to Lance Long fell to the ground on second down; and Jamaal Charles caught a pass for 8-yards on third down, which left the Chiefs one yard short.

The Chiefs did go for it on 4th and 1 and did not get it.

Cause: Didn't execute

#13 3rd and 1

Q4, 15:00, KC 22-yard line

On third and short, the Chiefs went deep to Chris Chambers and did not convert. While I actually like this play call - plenty of time left in the game, going for the kill - the reason for not converting the first down is clearly a play call issue.

Cause: Poor play call

#14 3rd and 7

Q4, 6:54, OAK 11-yard line

I'm sure you remember this play - Matt Cassel's draw up the middle near the Oakland goal line. Most people flipped out at this call but the announcers said, "This was a Bill Parcells' move." What they meant was Haley called a play to ensure the Chiefs would be lined up properly for the field goal and not lose the ball. Personally, I'd like to see more aggression down on the goal line but I understand where Haley was coming from with that call.

Cause: Poor play call

#15 3rd and 17

Q4, 2:13, KC 37-yard line

The Chiefs were plugging along with the running game as time wound down but a Leonard Pope holding penalty screwed them on this drive. Jamaal Charles managed 9-yards on third down but the Chiefs were forced to punt it away.

Cause: Penalty


Okay Chiefs fans. Chime in with your thoughts and make sure you vote in our poll.