The Kansas City Chiefs dropped to 7-6 on the season after a 17-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The Chiefs had the ball about 80 yards away with a minute left and down by three and couldn't score. This was absolutely a winnable game that the Chiefs dropped thanks to penalties and turnovers. The Chiefs playoff hopes are now seriously in question in the AFC.
Here's what we learned from the game.
Travis Kelce's fumble is the play of the game
Kelce caught a pass from Alex Smith and ran it down to the 22-yard line. It was a clear catch by Kelce. He fumbled the ball as he was tackled to the ground. The refs initially ruled a catch and a tackle at the 22-yard line. The Cardinals challenged the play and said that Kelce fumbled and it was recovered by Arizona. After a review, the refs agreed and overturned the call to give possession to the Cardinals. The Chiefs would have had the ball at the Cardinals 22-yard line down by three points if the play hadn't been overturned. In other words, this completely changed the game.
It looked to me that if Kelce did fumble, which he probably did, he regained possession while he was on the ground.
CBS ref analysis Mike Carey was surprised by the call. This game with five minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Chiefs were down by three in the field goal range so it was a major call.
Sacks, Alex Smith's INT were the difference makers
You can't blame the game on one person obviously but Alex Smith's interception felt like the biggest momentum-changing play. The Chiefs were leading the game 14-9 when Smith was pressured (which happened all day). He threw it right to a Cardinals defender who returned it 26 yards and set the Cardinals up for a touchdown on the ensuing drive. That play gave the Cardinals the lead they wouldn't give up.
Smith was sacked four times on the game. Some of that is on the offensive line. Some can be blamed on great coverage by the Cardinals. And some of it is on Alex Smith, who continued to avoid throwing it down the field at every chance.
Chiefs still can't stop the run
The Cardinals averaged under 80 rushing yards per game. The Chiefs let them have over 100. What a frustrating thing to not be able to do. The Cardinals were the NFL's worst rushing offense and were missing their top back. And the Chiefs let them run it on them.
Jamaal Charles injured, returns, doesn't get the ball enough
Patrick Peterson making a business decision on weather or not to put full effort in going after Jamaal Char... https://t.co/uwuQMHSNTr— Shane Richardson (@ShaneNFL) December 7, 2014
That's pretty much how it went for Jamaal Charles in this game. Early in the game he was injured with a left leg injury injury when his legs were bent the wrong way in the pile. He left and went to the locker room briefly before returning and scoring another touchdown. His best play of the day was his 63-yard touchdown run, which you can see above. The Cardinals do a great job of flowing to the ball but it leaves them vulnerable on some of the Chiefs misdirection plays.
The only problem with the way Jamaal ended things? The Chiefs seemed to forget about him in the second half, which was frustrating to watch. That sounds about right given recent games unfortunately.
D-Bowe's best hurdle ever
Dwayne Bowe hurdles two Cardinals defenders. http://t.co/xHuhDW8HuT— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) December 7, 2014
That’s the most explosive play I’ve seen Bowe make two years— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) December 7, 2014
We don't see it all the time but there it is right there. This came on a third and 19 and it led to a Chiefs touchdown to make it 14-6. Big time play from Bowe exactly when the Chiefs needed it.
The Chiefs defense needs better hands
By my count the Chiefs defense dropped at least two passes that should have been picked off. There was a third that was a little more difficult but perhaps should have been caught.
Sean Smith had one near the sideline that may have been a pick six if he could have held on. Phillip Gaines had one in the end zone that he probably should have caught. There was also a short pass that bounced off of Josh Mauga's hands.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals defense did not drop their interceptions.
Chiefs had their longest pass play of the season
A receiver still doesn't have a touchdown but the Chiefs did have their longest pass of the season to a receiver. Alex Smith rolled out on a third and one and after trying to find someone went deep to Avant, who caught the pass for a 41-yard gain.
Justin Houston adds to NFL-leading sack total
Houston had two sacks in Sunday's game, including one that forced a fumble. He has 16 sacks on the season which leads the NFL. He is also a free agent after this season so someone is making a lot of money.
Houston also had this tribute to Eric Berry who wears No. 29.
Random observations during the game
Joe Mays blew up the fullback on the first play of the game to help force a 1-yard loss by the running back. Welcome back, Joe Mays.
Vance Walker took Allen Bailey's snaps with Bailey out with a concussion.
Justin Houston forced a fumble on Drew Stanton but the Cardinals recovered.
Alex Smith's fist incomplete pass came with six minutes left in the game.
Alex Smith picked up a 3rd and 14 by running for 21 yards.
Jason Avant had a great block that helped spring Jamaal Charles into the end zone on his second touchdown.
The Cardinals missed a field goal near the end of the first half.
Dee Ford played more defensive snaps in this game than he has in the past few weeks.
The Chiefs went for it on fourth and four on the Cardinals side of the field but did not get it (incomplete pass).
WR Albert Wilson had a career game but dropped a pass on second and long in the fourth quarter.
Chiefs 2014 schedule
Week 1: Tennessee Titans (L 26-10)
Week 2: at Denver Broncos (L 24-17)
Week 3: at Miami Dolphins (W 34-15)
Week 4: New England Patriots (W 41-14)
Week 5: at San Francisco 49ers (L 22-17)
Week 6: Bye
Week 7: at San Diego Chargers (W 23-20)
Week 8: St. Louis Rams (W 34-7)
Week 9: New York Jets (W 24-10)
Week 10: at Buffalo Bills (W 17-13)
Week 11: Seattle Seahawks (W 24-20)
Week 12: at Oakland Raiders (L 24-20)
Week 13: Denver Broncos (L 29-16)
Week 14: at Arizona Cardinals (L 17-14)
Week 15: Oakland Raiders (Dec. 14, 12 p.m, CBS)
Week 16: at Pittsburgh Steelers (Dec. 21, 12 p.m., CBS)
Week 17: San Diego Chargers (Dec. 28, 12 p.m., CBS)
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