Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley was pretty clear when talking about what one of the goals was heading into Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers.
"Today, I really felt like first-down was going to be the critical down for us," Haley said after the Chiefs had taken down the 49ers, 31-10.
First down was a big play down, to say the least. The Chiefs 31-yard touchdown pass to Dexter McCluster came on first down as did Matt Cassel's interception.
"Some of the other sexier downs get a little more talk and some of the other areas of the field get a little more talk," Haley continued, "but I think if you’re playing a team like San Francisco, whose been one of the top teams in the league on first-down through two games on both sides of the ball, that became a real critical down for us.
"I don’t know the numbers yet, but I feel across the board, both offensively and defensively, that the guys understood that."
Well, I tallied up the numbers. So how did the Chiefs do? As Haley would say, the Chiefs got a little better.
On a yards-per-play basis, the Chiefs were better in Week 3 than they were in Weeks 1 and 2.
The Chiefs passed the ball 10 times on first down for a total of 76 yards. (Note: I took out his spike at the end of the first half). That's 7.6 yards per pass play on first down. The Chiefs season average heading into this game was four yards per pass on first down.
The Chiefs rushed the ball 18 times on first down for 120 yards. That's comes out to 6.7, one full yard more than their season average in the two games prior.
"They played together, they made plays on first-down, which then made other situations much more manageable, across the board. First down was real critical for us."