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Chris Jones: ‘We need to be better overall as a team’

Kansas City defensive players Chris Jones and Nick Bolton discuss the team’s Week 16 loss to Las Vegas.

NFL: DEC 25 Raiders at Chiefs Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It may have been Christmas Day, but the Kansas City Chiefs put on a frightening performance worthy of Halloween night during their 20-14 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The Chiefs’ defense held firm as long as they could, keeping the Raiders’ offense to just two field goals on the day. However, the same could not be said of the team’s offense; their two turnovers resulted directly in Las Vegas’ only touchdowns of the game.

Despite this reoccurring theme of Kansas City’s defense bailing out their offense, unit leaders like defensive lineman Chris Jones and linebacker Nick Bolton remain adamant that the entire team deserves blame for Monday’s loss.

“We need to be better overall as a team, collectively,” Jones said after the game. “It’s not just one group. I think special teams, defense, we had an opportunity to stop them, give the offense the chance to get the ball back and score, but we didn’t. We weren’t successful.”

“The frustration comes from our team,” Bolton added. “We had an opportunity to win the division this week, and we didn’t do it. So, I wouldn’t say it’s from a defensive perspective, but I think as a team, we felt like we missed an opportunity today.”

To say the Chiefs held the Raiders’ offense in check would be an understatement. Kansas City’s defense dominated the passing game, holding Las Vegas quarterback Aiden O’Connell to just 62 yards of passing. More impressively, however, was the fact that the Chiefs did not allow O’Connell to complete a single pass after the first quarter. In the end, Kansas City kept the Raiders to just 205 total yards of offense.

“Every week, our mindset is we want to outplay the other defense,” Bolton explained. We don’t really care about the offense. We’re trying to outplay the other defense, create turnovers, match their turnovers or sacks, and get Pat [Mahomes] the ball as many times as possible. Today we didn’t do that. We’ve got to find a way to get turnovers. So it’s one of our things that we can improve on the last couple of weeks for sure.”

Unfortunately, the Chiefs offense wasn’t much better as they came up short during several critical situations in the game. Whether it was turnovers, ill-timed penalties or a lack of execution, the offense failed to take advantage of their scoring opportunities, resulting in just 14 points.

For Jones, it’s simple. He knows what the offense is capable of doing when they are in a rhythm. He’s seen them flourish throughout his career and will continue to support them as they find a way to bounce back this season.

“We encourage each other,” Jones said explaining the relationship between the offense and the defense. “We continue to push each other throughout the week. I’ve been very fortunate that this offense — for the last five, six, seven years — has put up so many points for us. It’s won us so many games.”

If there was any room for improvement in the Chiefs’ defense, it would be in the running game. Kansas City allowed 157 total yards on the ground to the Raiders — a big chunk of it coming during the final minutes of the game. Bolton, who led the team with 5.5 tackles, holds himself accountable for failing to prevent these explosive plays in the first place.

“We’ve got to find a way to tackle on defense,” Bolton said. “Speaking on first and second down, we got to tackle a little better. We had an opportunity at four minutes to get the ball back to the offense. I think I got to shoot my gun a little bit faster and find a way to get him on the ground and prevent the explosive play. I felt like we kind of had momentum at that point. If we were able to get a stop — I think it was third-and-long on that play – our likelihood of getting Pat the ball back probably goes up.”

With just two more games left in the regular season, the Chiefs are running out of time to prove they have the consistency of a Super Bowl contender. While it may feel bleak now, Jones still believes they can do it, as long as they collectively push each other in the right direction.

“It’ll all come together,” Jones reassured. “I think more so as team for us now, it’s about pushing and pulling. Pulling each other together and pushing each other throughout the week, so we can continue to get better. We got two more games left for this season, and I think it’s important that we put emphasis on pulling and pushing each other together.

“I have a lot of confidence in this team. I have a lot of confidence in this defense, this special teams, and this offense that we’re going to get better. That’s the motto going into this week: Make sure we continue to push each other.”

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