Author’s note: I need to get this out of the way—any time something like Sunday’s events in Sutherland Springs take place, it makes this whole football thing feel pretty meaningless. My thoughts are with the families of the victims Sunday night as I write this article.
The Dallas Cowboys beat the Kansas City Chiefs 28-17, and the Chiefs fell to 6-3 entering their bye week.
This is the good, the bad and the ugly.
GOOD: the “Hill Mary,” forever
Right before this play, I tweeted that with the upcoming Hail Mary, Alex Smith would be putting his interception streak on the line on a low-percentage throw.
I forgot that Andy Reid, who has essentially invented a new offense for the Chiefs this season, can change the game with an age-old play like a Hail Mary.
Rather than throwing the ball into a crowded end zone, Smith threw it 20 yards up to Tyreek Hill and the Chiefs turned the play into a punt return. The Chiefs blockers, especially Demarcus Robinson, did their job and Hill used his unique agility and quickness to bounce around the defenders.
It was 56 yards for the score that gave the Chiefs life right at half.
GOOD: Hill is unlike any other
The thing is, I’m not sure if Reid could have invented the “Hill Mary” if Hill wasn’t the player he was. His speed is still unmatched in the National Football league.
Chiefs: 9 TD of 50+ yds this season (most in NFL)— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) November 5, 2017
Tyreek Hill: 9 such TD since 2016, more than double next-closest player (E.Elliott, 4)
GOOD: Tamba Hali’s return
It was uplifting to see Tamba Hali back in the lineup, and at the age of 34, he appears to have some juice left that could help this team.
The Chiefs used Hali in a limited role, which is probably a fair expectation for the remainder of the season.
GOOD: Travis Kelce has second good game in a row
After a not-so-Travis Kelce-like performance against Oakland (33 yards), Kelce got back to more of what we’ve become accustomed to seeing last season the past two weeks, and that’s perhaps the best weapon for Alex Smith.
Kelce was open a lot Sunday, and Smith targeted him nine times. Kelce made seven catches for 73 yards and a touchdown.
GOOD: the potato sack celebration
On that Kelce touchdown to put the Chiefs ahead 17-14, he opted not to dance for a change. Instead, he, Tyreek Hill and Demarcus Robinson pulled out the first planned celebration of the season—a potato sack race.
I gave the celebration a “B-” on Twitter and took a lot of heat, but I stand by it. I’m a tough grader when it comes to these things because this is unlike anything we’ve seen these Chiefs do. Was it great? Yes. Can it be topped? I argue yes on that too.
BAD: Kenneth Acker may not be the answer the Chiefs were hoping for
This has been an issue for me since training camp. It’s been talked about on radio shows, in newspaper mailbags and probably at your water cooler at the office:
Who is going to play opposite Marcus Peters?
It was decided a week ago that Terrance Mitchell and Phillip Gaines were not the answers, and Kenneth Acker stepped in an had an OK game. Sunday seemed worse for Acker, as he was outmatched by Dez Bryant, who had six receptions for 73 yards.
Having to double Bryant led to confusion on the Cowboys’ first touchdown, when Steve Nelson was beaten by Cole Beasley.
The trade deadline is over, and no move was made—this is the team. Now it’s on defensive coordinator Bob Sutton to figure it out.
BAD: Chiefs fail to shut the door after taking the lead
The touchdown at the end of the first half was unlike anyone had ever seen (Tony Romo actually made note of this on the broadcast). Then the potato sack touchdown gave you some real hope that maybe the Chiefs could win the ball game.
That was followed by a drive that took all that good air and deflated it. The Cowboys never looked back.
While I can admit that Elliott wasn’t as dominant as I expected throughout the game, the drive after the Kelce touchdown was the Elliott show, and he shut the door on any momentum it seemed like the Chiefs were building.
The longest gain of his six carries was only 11, but it was on this drive that the Cowboys wore the Chiefs defense down, and Dallas quickly retook the lead on an Elliott touchdown.
The Chiefs next drive after that? Three and out.
BAD: the Eric Murray whiff
With less than seven minutes left in the second quarter, defensive back Eric Murray read a Dak Prescott pass perfectly, but the ball went right through his hands and into the hands of Jason Witten, who secured the first down.
I feel comfortable saying that Murray would have taken it back for six, and who knows how the game develops from there. The play:
Tell ‘em, Bert:
We need those !!— Albert Wilson II (@iThinkIsee12) November 5, 2017
BAD: Cole Beasley flat out beat Steve Nelson for both of his touchdowns
I mentioned Kenneth Acker before and I need to also mention Nelson. If you noticed on both of the Cole Beasley touchdowns, Beasley simply outran Nelson twice.
When the secondary is a problem at the same time the defensive scheme is shifted to address stopping the run, what you have is a recipe for the other team to have offensive success, and we saw it on Sunday.
Side note (also bad): I did notice on the later of the two touchdowns, Marcus Peters looked to have pulled up rather than trying to stop Beasley from crossing the goal line. CBS analyst Tony Romo even noted on the broadcast that he doesn’t think Peters likes to tackle.
BAD: Only nine carries for Kareem Hunt
The game develops as it does, and sometimes it is hard to point to one number and ask why.
That being said, Kareem Hunt only had nine carries and 14 touches. After what he was able to do the first few weeks of the season, it makes you wonder if that’s enough.
For the second game in a row, Hunt was held to less than 100 yards from scrimmage, something that hadn’t happened in the first seven.
BAD: Is Mitch Morse tipping the defense?
1 thing I wanted to say today as 1 of my notes was David Irving told me when KC's center lifts his heels he knows ball abt 2b snapped. SACK.— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) November 5, 2017
UGLY: Steven Terrell running into Jehu Chesson
Jehu Chesson was standing at the 1-yard line waiting for a perfect punt by Dustin Colquitt that would have given the Chiefs fantastic defensive field position at the beginning of the second quarter.
And then something we do not normally see out of the Chiefs: a special teams gaffe.
Steve Terrell, looking up at the ball, crashed into Chesson and it bounced into the end zone. Touchback.
Submitted without comment… pic.twitter.com/bpYeoRbR5y— Kurtis Seaboldt (@KSeaboldt) November 5, 2017
UGLY: the penalty bug came back
The Chiefs took eight penalties for 52 yards on Sunday afternoon, including four false starts. SB Nation and former Chief Geoff Schwartz weighed in on the issues.
Clearly some snap count issues for the Chiefs when RT and then RG jump offsides. Need to get that fixed asap.— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) November 5, 2017
When two different OL jump on the same drive in silent count, it's not concentration. It's communication about the right count. https://t.co/akeBT42q0P— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) November 5, 2017
This was a surprising development for me given the fact that the Chiefs had the starting offensive line back for the first time since Week 1.
UGLY: Third-and-15 to disaster
There were two drives in particular that I think killed the Chiefs Sunday. The second was the one I described above in which they allowed the Cowboys to respond to their touchdown seamlessly and immediately.
The first one came near the end of the first half, when the Chiefs had the Cowboys to third-and-15 at their own 13-yard line. It was still only 7-3 Dallas.
On the third-down play, Bryant was left open in the middle of the field, and Prescott hit him for 21 yards. Then, on the very next play, there was another coverage miscue, leaving Terrance Williams wide open down the right sideline. Prescott hit him for 56 yards.
In the blink of an eye, the Cowboys went from having their backs up against the wall to being in striking position, and they did on a Prescott 10-yard scramble.
UGLY: 4 of 11 on third down (36 percent)
Speaking of third down, the Chiefs could not stay on the field on third down, especially early, and it hurt them down the stretch.
UGLY: Chris Conley unhappy with some fans after the game
Chiefs fans like yourself weren’t happy after the game (justifiably so) and the injured Chris Conley must have read a tweet that went a bit too far.
Love seeing who real supporters and those who are just fans when it’s convenient. There’s a reason we ignore y’all when you sing praises.— Chris Conley (@_flight17_) November 6, 2017
After a few more tweets he closed with this:
I love y’all. I just love my teammates as men too. Criticism is good but there is a line. Y’all have a blessed night— Chris Conley (@_flight17_) November 6, 2017
This is without a doubt not how you wanted to enter the bye week if you’re the Kansas City Chiefs. The defense is struggling with both the run and pass, and the offense has reverted back to more like something we were used watching last season. That is all fair and true.
That said, the sky is not falling. The 5-0 cushion (before going 1-3, I get it) afforded you the room to go through these problems, and there is no better time for the bye week than right now.
The players will get away from the game, which I’m sure they will need after doing this for 13 straight weeks, and the coaches will have the time to deep dive into what is going wrong.
There are a couple positive things to remember as you think about this team:
- No one is better than Andy Reid after the bye (16-2).
- The Chiefs’ schedule gets easier down the stretch, starting with the New York Giants who may be the worst team in the league right now.
- Despite dropping a game to the Raiders, the Chiefs still have a two-game lead on the rest of the AFC West division. Barring a complete disaster, the Chiefs should be in the postseason, and they have seven games to get back on track.