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Chiefs vs. Colts Instabreakdown: Offensive and special-teams miscues led to first loss

To compete at the top of the AFC, Kansas City must get immensely better on offense and special teams.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Final Score: Indianapolis Colts 20, Kansas City Chiefs 17

A long day in Indianapolis will lead to a long plane ride home. Special teams will (correctly) get a lot of the blame for Sunday’s loss. The offense, however, didn’t help matters — and a really poor decision by Chris Jones negated what should have been a defensive win for Kansas City. Instead, the Chiefs drop to 2-1 on the year.

Offense (Talon Graff)

The offense was abysmal all afternoon, struggling to put together any sort of rhythm. Kansas City only converted three of its 10 third-down conversion attempts.

Nobody really showed up. Even the usually-reliable Travis Kelce looked shaky and inconsistent. With a nonexistent running game (and a passing attack that yet again underperformed), the Chiefs guaranteed their first loss of this season with Patrick Mahomes’ first interception of 2022.

The offensive line allowed pressure to the Indianapolis front four — and especially had issues trying to slow down defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. This allowed the Colts to drop more players into coverage, which prevented big plays from taking place. Mahomes was sacked only once — but all afternoon, the pocket felt dirty.

The ground game averaged only 2.5 yards per carry — and it was led by Mahomes, who had 26 yards. Clyde Edwards-Helaire carried the ball seven times but ended his day with zero rushing yards. Jerick McKinnon carried it seven more times for 20 yards. Edwards-Helaire was more effective as a receiver, hauling in five catches for 39 receiving yards. The lack of a potent rushing attack is a clear issue — and one that will continue to haunt this team until it can find some way to get a spark.

Receivers and tight ends dealt with dropped passes — but Juju Smith-Schuster did have his best outing in a Chiefs uniform, totaling 89 receiving yards on five receptions. Travis Kelce caught four passes but was targeted eight times. Late in the game, he had an ill-timed drop in the end zone that would have given the Chiefs a two-possession lead.

All around, it was a really ugly, bad performance.

Offensive Player of the Game: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes

This honor should be left vacant. But Mahomes did manage to put up 262 passing yards and a single touchdown. The entire offense looked out of sync but No. 15 did what he could with his arm and his legs. Mahomes targeted eight different receivers. Six had at least one reception.

Defense (Bryan Stewart)

For a second straight week, the Chiefs relied heavily on their defensive unit to control the tempo of a game. Unfortunately, they ran out of gas at the finish line.

There really just isn’t much fault to put on the defense. They held the NFL’s best running back to just 3.4 yards per rush on 21 carries. The defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and helped linebackers Nick Bolton and Darius Harris play freely. Of the 20 points Indianapolis scored, seven came after a first-quarter muffed punt that put their defense’s back against the wall at the Kansas City 4-yard line.

Colts quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked five times — twice by Bolton — while Frank Clark, Carlos Dunlap and L’Jarius Sneed each added one more.

This loss was as frustrating as it gets — and in quite unexpected fashion, the team’s defense bears little to no blame for the painful outcome. It carried the team until it couldn’t be carried any longer.

Defensive Player of the Game: Linebacker Nick Bolton

The second-year linebacker put together another impactful day with the two sacks — plus nine total tackles and a tackle for loss. He was a major contributor to the defense’s overall success — especially in holding down Colts running back Jonathan Taylor.

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