The Kansas City Chiefs Are Broken
It’s looking more and more as though the curse of reigning Super Bowl winners will be extended another year. Nobody has repeated as Super Bowl champs since the 2004 New England Patriots did so, and now the 2022 champion Kansas City Chiefs look like a team that has no business in the Super Bowl picture.
In their 20-14 Christmas Day home loss to the inferior division rival Las Vegas Raiders, quarterback Patrick Mahomes once again looked far from his elite self in a dud performance that featured two turnovers resulting in Raiders defensive touchdowns in a seven-second span.
That might have been aberrational, but it was a third consecutive multi-turnover game for a team that has gone 2-4 since its Week 10 bye and can no longer secure the top seed in the AFC.
And it could get worse. They’ve now lost three straight at vaunted Arrowhead Stadium, so nothing’s guaranteed next week at home against the desperate Cincinnati Bengals or the following week on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers. The AFC West remains up for grabs.
Look, we still can’t count the Chiefs out. They’re broken, but Mahomes is a magician, Andy Reid is a legend and the team certainly has the talent and experience to suddenly go on a January run all the way to Super Bowl LVIII. This is potentially fixable, but right now it’s hard to believe the Chiefs can right the ship on time. The team has seemingly become careless, unfocused, mistake-prone and even appears apathetic.
It seems this isn’t their year.
Chiefs get off to historically bad start and can’t recover. Kansas City opened up Monday’s game with back-to-back three-and-out drives, and the Chiefs did not get a first down without a penalty until their fourth possession of the day. Drops by pass-catchers, pressure on Mahomes, and ineffective runs led to the Chiefs finishing the first quarter with -18 yards, the worst first quarter by a team since the Bears had -20 in Week 15, 2004, and the fewest by a team in any quarter since the Chiefs themselves had -19 in Week 14, 2011. They finally got something going with a 74-yard touchdown drive that ended with a trick play run by Pacheco, but the Chiefs couldn’t build on it, and more of the mistakes seen from the offense all season meant they fell behind and couldn’t climb out of the hole. A second trick play attempt led to Pacheco fumbling a handoff to Mahomes for a Vegas scoop-and-score, and the next offensive play Mahomes had his 14th interception of the year, a career-high. Add on a missed field goal and multiple failed fourth-down attempts (including one in the red zone), and it was not a very merry Christmas in Kansas City.
While Kelce’s mini-tantrum was the most jarring, he wasn’t the only frustrated Chiefs player, with Mahomes not hiding his emotions either, appearing on the verge of tears at the end of the game.
The listless performance against the Raiders is the Chiefs’ fourth loss in six games, with the defending champions stuck in an offensive rut just two weeks out from the start of the postseason.
It’s not often you see the Chiefs get bullied in their own stadium, but that’s exactly what happened in this game. Patrick Mahomes spent a good chunk of the game running for his life and although he’s usually able to make some magic happen when he’s on the run, there was no magic to be had in this game. His receivers simply couldn’t get open and the Chiefs couldn’t get anything going on the ground. Not only did the offense played bad, but the unit handed the Raiders two touchdowns in the second quarter with a pick-six and a fumbled handoff on a trick play. The Chiefs defense played reasonably well, but they got run over by Zamir White in the fourth quarter. The Raiders running back rushed for seven carries for 75 yards in the quarter to put the game away. The Chiefs have now lost four of their past six games and at the moment don’t look like a team that’s going to advance very far in the playoffs.
Give Antonio Pierce the gig:
First things first. Antonio Pierce won himself the permanent job in this game. He had to. He followed up a 63-21 win over the Los Angeles Chargers by dominating the Chiefs’ offense at Arrowhead Stadium to keep them from clinching the AFC West Division title. What else does Pierce have to do? He’s the guy. That means interim general manager Champ Kelly is very likely the guy as well. The only question is will they keep Bo Hardegree as the offensive coordinator and will defensive coordinator Patrick Graham get a head coaching job himself?
The Raiders are not out of the AFC playoff race yet. They must win out at the 8-7 Indianapolis Colts on Sunday and then beat the 7-8 Denver Broncos at home in Week 18 and then hope. But, hey there is hope. That’s what comes with winning this game.
Around the NFL
It started terribly well, as Purdy connected with George Kittle for a 58-yard run and catch ahead of a 13-yarder to put the San Francisco 49ers on the Baltimore Ravens’ 15-yard line during their opening drive.
Then Purdy saw Deebo Samuel in the end zone and didn’t see Kyle Hamilton.
Hamilton swooped in, tallying the first of his two interceptions and Purdy’s four.
At evening’s end, Purdy was on the sidelines, having suffered an aggravation of a stinger and thrown a quartet of INTs in the 49ers’ 33-19 loss to the Ravens.
Despite the insult and the injury, head coach Kyle Shanahan expressed confidence that Purdy was rebound from the poor performance and the stinger.
“He stayed in there, kept battling,” Shanahan said. “Our whole team struggled there in the second half, so it just wasn’t him. I know he was disappointed not being able to finish it there, but given that stinger again, I just wanted to keep him out of there. Ready for him to bounce back next week.”
“I thought Lamar had an MVP performance,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “It takes a team to create a performance like that, but it takes a player to play at that level — to play at an MVP level — it takes a player to play that way. And Lamar was all over the field doing everything.”
Hurts recorded the 41st rushing touchdown of his career, passing Jack Kemp for fifth on the all-time list. Hurts also has 28 rushing touchdowns over the past two seasons, the most by any quarterback over a two-year span in NFL history.
Hurts is also the only quarterback in NFL history with consecutive seasons of 10-plus rushing touchdowns, and he’s done it in three straight seasons. The Eagles quarterback has 34 total touchdowns on the season, one shy of matching his franchise record of 35 set last year.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The Chiefs’ offensive coaching staff: It’s far too late in this season to have not yet figured out what players do best. It’s an absolute waste of Mahomes’ talent — during the prime of his career — for him to play in an offense that is this much of a mess. The failure of the entire offense ultimately rests on the coaching staff being unable to get the right guys on the field in the right positions — with game plans that have a chance.
A tweet to make you think
Kelce's been pissed off like this most weeks this season!— Brit Chief (@BritChiefUK) December 26, 2023
What on earth is wrong with this offense? https://t.co/qfG1VxRNKn