The Kansas City Chiefs’ first half against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday was the worst we’ve seen in the Mahomes era. The team didn’t cross the 50-yard line, turned it over twice, had just 67 total yards and went into the locker room down 27-0.
The second half didn’t matter too much. This game was over shortly after it started.
It’s difficult to think about winners from such a performance, but there were a few Chiefs who stood out in their individual performances — followed, of course, by just a sampling of the losers from the Tennessee Catastrophe.
Nick Bolton: Two tackles for loss in the first half, another at the start of the fourth quarter to force a punt on third-and-1 and another after the game was basically over — when others might just have given up. Fifteen tackles for a guy who looks like Kansas City’s future MIKE linebacker. Bolton should keep that green dot. It suits him.
Travis Kelce: A fun but risky catch-and-pitch to Jerick McKinnon was one of the only first-half highlights. Then Kelce opened the second half with a first-down catch to spark an actual offensive drive that ended in points. Kelce’s 13 targets netted seven catches for 65 yards — which wasn’t great, but he still battled all afternoon.
Willie Gay Jr.: His interception early in the second half was a tremendous individual effort in a game where the Chiefs desperately needed some. Unfortunately, it ended up being just a drop in a miserable bucket.
Byron Pringle: The wide receiver is quietly emerging as a chain mover. His fourth-down in the fourth quarter was — as the announcers said — magnificent. He showed strong hands and a fearless demeanor, leading the Chiefs with 73 yards on five catches.
All the penalties: The headlines will be about Tannehill and Henry — but in the first half, the Chiefs really bailed out the Titans’ offense with penalties, including calls for defensive holding, pass interference and offsides. In the second half, there were two flags on the first offensive drive, then two consecutive penalties on the second drive. When you’re undisciplined as a team, the yellow flags appear. The nine penalties — costing 77 yards — were part of the reason this game was a catastrophe.
Trey Smith: The right guard had two holding calls go against him — and gave up a sack to push the Chiefs to fourth-and-21 and a missed field goal. He’s been great this season — but it wasn’t his best performance.
Orlando Brown Jr.: The left tackle allowed two sacks on one fourth-quarter drive when the Chiefs were finally putting something together. Even before an in-depth analysis, it’s safe to say that Brown didn’t have a good day.
Andy Reid: This team wasn’t ready for the Titans. Period. There were also some questionable play-calls. But what confirmed he’d be on this list was the confusing sequence where the Chiefs took a sack, ran the punt team on, then the field goal team, burned a timeout and missed a 57-yard field goal — all of this while they were down 24 points. When the failure is as widespread as it was in this game, the buck stops with the head coach.
Patrick Mahomes: It was just a brutal, brutal day for Mahomes. The cherry on top was a knee to his face while he was being sacked. Somehow, it didn’t result in a concussion — but it did knock him out of the game. The protection wasn’t good and the defense put them in bad spots — but let’s say it: Mahomes was terrible in this game. He had another interception and fumble when trying to get something going. He didn’t throw a touchdown pass or cross 250 yards passing. It was the first time in his career that both of those things happened in a game.
Mike Hughes: I don’t think his coverage was terrible, but he was repeatedly beaten by the Titans’ big receivers — and Tannehill, who had outstanding passes. A.J. Brown — partially at Hughes’ expense — was the only player on the field with a statistically dominant game (eight catches for 133 yards and a touchdown). Hughes just isn’t the type of cornerback who can win very often in these one-on-one situations against a great receiver.
Chris Jones: The star defensive lineman returned — still at the defensive end position, contrary to some speculative reports. But his presence wasn’t felt as much as we would have liked. Going through this game without an impact play means that he’ll face more questions about his position. And after he was seen letting Derrick Henry pass him like a Spanish bullfighter, he’ll also face questions about his hustle and effort.
All of us watching this game: As Chiefs fans, we should be used to the bad times by now. But coming into this season with sky-high expectations, games like this (and the Buffalo Bills loss) give us flashbacks to the terrible Chiefs teams we’ve seen over the years. A very loyal — but very miserable — Chiefs Kingdom will have some unpleasant questions during the coming week. Many of us wish we had been binge-watching Netflix instead of tuning in to this one.