Why the Chiefs lost
A week after scoring touchdowns with video-game ease against the Eagles, Mahomes and Co. looked unusually out of sync at Arrowhead. Sometimes, drops were the culprit. Other times, Mahomes himself threw off-balance for no good reason. They flashed some red-zone creativity and looked primed for a potential shootout early, but they just never got into a rhythm. Edwards-Helaire struggled before leaving with a knee injury, so Mahomes was the only real threat on the ground, and not even Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce could find much room deep downfield. As for their defense, it came up with a key stop or two, but it also looked like the absolute sieve it is for chunks of play. Tyrann Mathieu was left to watch with his arms up in frustration as Allen torched the secondary in each quarter, and Daniel Sorensen found himself on the wrong end of maybe a half-dozen deep balls.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire was knocked out of Sunday night’s AFC title game rematch against the Buffalo Bills with a right knee injury sustained in the third quarter.
The extent of the injury is unknown, but the second-year pro was carried off the field by teammates Tyreek Hill and Darrel Williams, unable to put pressure on his right leg. He was injured while tackled after moving the chains with an 11-yard reception in the flat.
Passing offense: D
Choppy, clunky, off target in ways we’re not used to seeing. On the first series, Patrick Mahomes couldn’t take advantage of busted coverage and missed a wide open Travis Kelce. Tyreek Hill dropped a ball on the same series. The Bills’ excellent coverage took away the deep ball, and Mahomes threw the second pick-six of his career when Micah Hyde returned a ball deflected off Hill for a 26-yard score. On the play before that, Mecole Hardman ran the wrong route on an incompletion. Mahomes’ second interception was a terrific play by defensive end Greg Rousseau, who batted the ball to himself for the pick. Mahomes’ best throw of the half was the 5-yard touchdown pass to Byron Pringle. The final indignity: Mahomes fumble late in the fourth quarter for the Chiefs’ fourth turnover.
Passing defense: F
Awful in the first half. Safety Dan Sorensen is going to take most of the heat and he deserves it. But L’Jarius Sneed got burned on a Josh Allen touchdown pass to Emmanual Sanders. Allen averaged 31.1 yards per completion in the first half, the most by an NFL quarterback in one half (minimum seven completions) in three decades. Still, the photos of Tyrann Mathieu with his arms up as Bills targets race by Sorensen for big gains were making the rounds on social media. Complain about the Frank Clark roughing the passer penalty in the fourth quarter, but the Chiefs benefited from a roughing call moments earlier.
The problem for Kansas City? It also has one of the worst defenses.
That was clear long before L’Jarius Sneed blew coverage on a 35-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders that gave Buffalo a 14-10 lead. Or Daniel Sorensen blew coverage on a 61-yard pass to Stefon Diggs that led to a field goal, or when the safety blew coverage on tight end Dawson Knox that resulted in a 53-yard touchdown reception.
Allen only completed seven passes in the first half. They went for 219 yards and two scores.
“They’re embarrassed by it,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of the defensive performance. “We have to do better.”
The Chiefs were fortunate to trail only 24-13 at halftime, when lightning lit up the sky and sent fans scurrying for the concourses. The Bills had begun to warm up but were pulled off the field for what became an hour-long wait.
Things didn’t get a whole lot better for Kansas City when the game finally resumed.
“Honestly, I think we’re just beating ourselves,” said Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu about the Chiefs 38-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills. “If you really look back at it, go back to the Ravens game, miscommunication, blown coverages. Chargers game, kind of the same, you know, thing. And then tonight, I think most of the explosive pass plays were guys just running, you know, wide open down the field. Obviously, we’re going to practice that.”
He said the defense will have to dig deep to turn things around.
“Every team we play, wants to beat us. They want to beat us bad,” he said. “I think we have to understand that when we come into these kind of games.”
If you want to know how bad the refs have been in this game tonight, the NBC broadcast is not holding back on their opinions. It started pretty early in the first quarter mentioning how many flags were coming out.
With the very questionable roughing the passer call that cost the Chiefs a chance to have the ball down 11 with plenty of time left in the fourth quarer Michaels and Collinsworth just went in all in.
“They’re just calling everything tonight,” Michaels said.
The Sunday Night Football broadcast is the NFL’s crown jewel. It has been since NBC took over the contract and started putting A+ games on every week.
If NBC is taking off the boxing gloves and attacking the refs in a game, you know how bad it is.
Things were really, really bad for K.C. in this one. Mahomes couldn’t get anything going down the field. None of the running backs could find any room, and then Clyde Edwards-Helaire left with a knee injury. Travis Kelce had to get checked in the blue tent. I think Daniel Sorenson just gave up another long completion while I was typing this paragraph. The Chiefs have some things to work on.
Around the NFL
“I was in a bad frame of mind at the time [in 2011], and I called Roger Goodell a [expletive] in one of these emails too,” the Raiders coach told ESPN on Friday night. “They were keeping players and coaches from doing what they love with a lockout. There also were a lot of things being reported publicly about the safety of the sport that I love. I was on a mission with high school football [in the Tampa, Florida, area] during that time, and there were a lot of parents who were scared about letting their kids play football. It just didn’t sit well with me.”
Gruden did not identify any of the owners he cited in a negative light pertaining to the labor negotiations.
The Cleveland Browns were in a shoot-out in Los Angeles, but they came up short.
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 23 of 32 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns, and running back Nick Chubb piled up 161 yards on the ground as the Browns scored 42 points. But they fell 47-42 to Justin Herbert and the Chargers Sunday.
The Browns scored 42 points and amassed 532 yards with no turnovers. They are the first team in NFL history to lose when having either 40 points and no turnovers or 40 points, 500 yards, and no turnovers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It was also Cleveland’s second loss after having a double-digit lead in the second half.
When does one team — and one kicker — get four cracks at a go-ahead or game-winning field goal in the final two minutes and 12 seconds of regulation plus overtime?
When the same kicker misses three of them and watches his counterpart miss twice, including one that he prematurely celebrated as good.
Such was Sunday’s 25-22 overtime win for the Green Bay Packers and their normally rock-solid kicker Mason Crosby. The result was equal parts a shocking victory for the visitors as it was an unfathomable defeat for the upstart Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.
Rookie receiver Kadarius Toney entered Sunday with 10 catches for 92 yards. With Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton inactive with their injuries and Kenny Golladay leaving with a knee injury, Toney received his first big opportunity.
He caught 10 passes for 189 yards, setting the team rookie record for most receiving yards in a game. Odell Beckham held the previous mark with 185 yards in a game against the Eagles in 2014.
Toney, though, ruined it at the end of the fourth quarter with an ejection. He threw a punch at Cowboys safety Damontae Kazee.
The first-year head coach broke into tears while commending the effort his team showed in a tough loss. And you really have to feel for Campbell too. He made the risky call to go for the win instead of the tie, looked to succeed and still lost.
That will be a difficult one to get over, but if there’s anything the Lions have taught us over the years, it’s that there will always be a worse loss.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Harrison Butker: He’s been perfect this season — but the coach was asking a lot of him to kick it 54 yards into swirling wind and rain. But that kick would’ve been good from 60-plus.
Mecole Hardman: The wide receiver led the Chiefs receivers in the first half with four catches on five targets for 48 yards. He added another five catches in the second half, helping move the chains on some short and intermediate routes that we haven’t seen from him since the Baltimore game. He did short-arm at least one catchable ball — but all-in-all, Hardman showed up and battled against the Bills.
The Lightning: It shut down the Bills’ offense for an hour — and maybe gave some of us hope that the game would be canceled.
When Bills quarterback Josh Allen was asked about the matchup heading into it this week, he played down the idea of redemption, instead acknowledging Kansas City as “the gold standard” of the AFC.
By taking down the Chiefs, Allen felt his Bills would take a step closer to becoming that — a new gold standard. That is what mattered to the Buffalo quarterback — and he came out of the gate like it mattered, punching the Chiefs defense in the mouth.
After the Bills defense held the Chiefs to three points, Allen carried the ball three times for 42 yards on their opening drive, including keeping the ball on an option and running nine yards for the first touchdown of the game. Allen finished with 62 rushing yards in the contest.
If the opening-drive ground show wasn’t enough, the quarterback utterly gashed the Chiefs’ defense on Sunday night. Allen picked on Daniel Sorensen twice — once on a 61-yard pass to wide receiver Stefon Diggs and then later on a 53-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dawson Knox.
A tweet to make you think
The Chiefs have 11 turnovers this season, tied with the Jaguars for most in the NFL.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 11, 2021
Through 5 games last season the Chiefs had a total of 3 turnovers. pic.twitter.com/SzTugFHske