The most surprising aspect of Thursday night’s Kansas City Chiefs loss to the Detroit Lions has to be that the offense was the problem. Entering the night, the Chiefs knew that they would be without both tight end Travis Kelce and defensive tackle Chris Jones.
The offense without Kelce felt manageable — while the defense without Jones felt impossible. But the way it played out, the opposite was true. Without Kelce, the offense could never find rhythm and consistency. Meanwhile, the defense gave up 14 points all night — and had the special teams unit not given up a first down on an early-game fake punt, it might have been only seven points.
Asked about the defense’s solid performance on the evening, to his credit, linebacker Nick Bolton did not seem at all satisfied.
“We lost the football game, and I think that’s where you measure yourself at – especially in this league,” said Bolton. “Games are won in inches and in a couple situations down the stretch, and we didn’t execute well enough. You can say that we gave up 14 points and that’s a good start and all that, but ultimately we lost the football game. Our goal was to come out of here 1-0 this week, and it didn’t happen. Back to the drawing board, the guys will be better and ready to go for Jacksonville.”
No matter which Chiefs defender spoke, it sounded like that message had already permeated the locker room.
“We lost,” said safety Justin Reid. “You’re never going to feel good — there’s no participation awards. Do you win, or do you lose? We left some plays on the field on all three phases of the ball on offense, defense, special teams. We all left some plays on the field. We just got to take this as a reality check and know that we’re going to have a target on our back. We’ve just got to play better.”
Even after all of the game’s mistakes, the fourth quarter appeared to be playing out just how Chiefs fans have become accustomed to seeing in recent seasons. Down one point, Bolton, Reid and the Kansas City defense forced Detroit to a midfield fourth-and-2 attempt.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell kept the offense on the field to try and win the game. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo allowed Reid to play the passer — and the safety knocked the pass down at the line. Chiefs ball.
“We got the stop, and it gave us some hope,” said defensive end Mike Danna, who registered his first sack of the year.
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, their offensive woes continued, putting the defense back on the field one more time just four plays later. Running back David Montgomery ran three straight times for the first down — and that was the game.
Still, there was no finger-pointing.
“Our offense has given us reason to believe that they are the best in the league at what they do,” added Bolton. “Regardless of how the game goes, whenever they have the football, they have a chance to score. We had 100 percent faith that we could get a stop and get the ball back to our offense – even in the last two minutes.
“They’re going to score the football, and we have a lot of faith that those guys are going to come back hungry next week and figure out what they have to do on that side of the ball. Now it’s up to us, on our side of the ball, to maintain what we did this week and also find ways to get better. Tackling is going to be at the top of the board.”