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Converting Third Downs Didn't Help Chiefs Against Broncos

Yesterday against the Broncos, the Kansas City Chiefs converted 6 of their 17 third down attempts.

The last time they completed six third downs in a game? Only two weeks ago against Pittsburgh, a game Kansas City won.

What happened between a win over last year's Super Bowl champion and a blowout by a division rival?

We take a look after the jump.

I'm probably as guilty as anyone of looking at box scores and trying to draw conclusions without including the context of the game around them. When you look at the Chiefs six third down conversions - 35% on the day - it's easy to let yourself think the Chiefs had some success on offense, or at least success relative to their other outings. 

The problem with only looking at the 6/17 stat line? Four of those six first down conversions came on one drive.

The Chiefs had perhaps the drive of the season yesterday in the first quarter, driving 75-yards in over eight minutes on twenty plays. The Chiefs converted four of the five third downs on that drive, with that final third down failure costing the Chiefs a touchdown.

Here's how those third downs went on that drive:

  • 3rd & 5, KC 47-yard line - Chris Chambers 6-yard reception
  • 3rd & 4, DEN 30-yard line - Leonard Pope 7-yard catch
  • 3rd & 7, DEN 20-yard line - Jamaal Charles 8-yard run
  • 3rd & 1, DEN 3-yard line - Jamaal Charles 2-yard run
  • 3rd & 4, DEN 4-yard line - Matt Cassel incomplete pass to Jamaal Charles

This was a really great drive by the Chiefs. The play calling was very good IMO - 11 rushes and 9 passes, which were evenly spread out throughout the drive. The Chiefs even went no huddle a couple of times, a move I really love seeing this team make.

After this drive, through essentially three quarters, the Chiefs only converted 2/11 third downs.

Here's how the conversion stats broke down by quarter:

Q1 Score 3rd downs TOP
Denver 7 1/1 6:42
Kansas City 0 4/5 8:18
Denver 14 0/3 9:57
Kansas City 6 0/5 5:03
Denver 34 0/3 7:44
Kansas City 6 1/4 7:16
Denver 44 3/6 11:32
Kansas City 13 1/3 3:28

This just goes to show that third down conversion percentage, a stat we talk about around here a lot, is only one piece of the puzzle.

One good drive cannot win the game for you.

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