For the second consecutive week, a Kansas City Chiefs victory was overshadowed by an ugly performance from the offense. In the 13-7 win over the Green Bay Packers, the Chiefs hit their season-low for total yards, passing yards and first downs; they punted more than they have in any other game this season, and most of their drives ended before reaching midfield.
The only bright side was the Chiefs’ avoidance of turnovers. Yet, that almost makes their inability to get anything going on offense even more unexplainable and inexcusable. It was the central point for head coach Andy Reid in his post-game press conference.
“We’re kind of shooting ourselves in the foot,” Reid told reporters Sunday evening. “You can see it; it’s not a secret. When you’re taking steps back, whether it’s turnovers, it’s penalties, it’s fumbles that even you recover, any loss of yardage makes a long, consistent drive a little tough. We were better today with the turnovers, but we just have to take care of those penalties at crucial times.”
There were no penalties on the opening drive. In fact, there was a lot to like about how the Chiefs’ offense came out of the gate. They traveled 59 yards on 15 plays, earning six first downs before scoring a touchdown. They had effective run plays while also taking what the coverage allowed them to through the air.
Yet, the drive was by far the best of the game. They didn’t have another drive go over six plays or 25 yards until the final minute of the third quarter — and that possession ended in a punt.
After looking to be in a good rhythm during that opening drive, quarterback Patrick Mahomes fell back out of sync for the remainder of the game. He finished with a career-low mark in passing yards and yards per pass attempt; his 54.1% completion percentage was the third-lowest of his career. He shouldered the blame for the team constantly stalling on drives.
“You’re seeing that the little things here and there are making drives stall out,” Mahomes began to tell reporters. “That starts with me getting into the right play and making the right throw to try and get a completion.”
Mahomes did his best to spark the offense; he had two deep pass attempts that were nearly completed. Alas, the throws fell incomplete — and one may have come at the expense of an open Travis Kelce.
“I saw Travis come open, but I just wanted to give it a chance,” Mahomes described of his deep attempt to wide receiver Mecole Hardman in the first half. “Even though their defenses are playing so deep, you still want to have a chance to take those shots; I missed a couple of them today. You just have to know when to take those and take the underneath, and that’s something I continue to have to get better at as the season goes on.”
The offense played a lot of bad football after their opening drive — but when they needed to succeed the most, they came through. The Packers made it a one-score game with a late touchdown, giving the Chiefs the ball back with 4:54 and a chance to run the clock out. They did precisely that, and it naturally allowed coach Reid to feel better about the offense’s overall performance.
“That felt good right there,” Reid said of the last drive. “They were on the same page; it’s not Patrick, it’s not Kelce, it’s not the offensive line, it’s not Tyreek, it’s everyone getting on the same page and feeling those things... You run the clock out by doing those kinds of things.”
Mahomes could feel the confidence that coach Reid had in him and the rest of the offense — and it may have fueled them to put together the game-sealing drive.
“Coach Reid believes in us,” Mahomes asserted. “He gave us a chance to put the ball in my hands.”
The penultimate play was Mahomes throwing on the run to a leaping Hill, who hauled in the pass to move the sticks on the third-down attempt. After the completion, the broadcast cameras caught Mahomes with a vintage fist pump and yell. It was the release of a whole game’s worth of frustration piled up.
“It was a battle all day long,” Mahomes reflected. “All day it felt like that, then at the end of the day when we had a chance to really win it, I kind of let that out; that frustration. I’d rather be walking away with a win than a lot of yards.”
The final drive didn’t result in any points — but it could have built momentum and confidence for the unit moving forward. They have a lot of season remaining, and it’s not like the rest of the AFC is pulling away in the standings.
With eight games left and a 5-4 record, the Chiefs can still turn this season into a success — but that will only happen if the offense can indeed turn it around.
Mahomes doesn’t just believe that it can; he believes that it will.
“I’m still extremely confident,” said the quarterback. “I know we’re going to find it as an offense. We have too many good players; we have too special of coaches to not find it. The offensive line has been playing really good football these past few weeks, and as they come together, it’s going to keep that offense going. I expect us to start making plays here soon.”
It’s hard to believe Mahomes’ words after seeing the offense struggle for over a month now — but it’s also hard to see the unit being ineffective for the entirety of the remaining schedule.
It’s vital to the team’s success — because no matter how well the defense and special teams play, the Chiefs aren’t making a postseason run unless the offense plays better.