AFC West-leading Chiefs left reeling after loss to Giants
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs’ spot atop the AFC West remained unchanged after the weekend.
The public perception of them? Well, if that hadn’t done a 180-degree turn from the start of the season, when a 5-0 start had them mentioned as Super Bowl contenders, it surely did on Sunday, when a humiliating loss to the New York Giants was their fourth in the past five games.
“Nobody is pointing fingers,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said, “but guys have to get called out and get told, you know what I mean? They have to be more accountable, and that starts with myself. We’ll just go around the room and sure enough, guys have to start stepping up.”
Indeed, just about everyone in the locker room contributed to the 12-9 overtime loss at the Meadowlands.
Alex Smith threw a pair of costly interceptions. Kelce threw one, too, on a questionable trick play. The offensive line couldn’t open a sliver, much less a hole, for running back Kareem Hunt, who in turn couldn’t make enough guys miss. The only wide receiver to make a play was Tyreek Hill.
Even the lone bright spot, a reasonable performance by a much-maligned defense, was soured by what happened in overtime. The Giants drove effortlessly downfield for the winning field goal.
“Every game is going to be hard to win. It comes down to who executes better,” Hunt said. “We just have to do a better job all around.”
Or at least get back to doing the same job they did early in the season.
Remember, this is still the same Chiefs team that trounced the Patriots in New England, and beat the potent Philadelphia Eagles at Arrowhead Stadium.
Smith is the same quarterback who was earning MVP talk through the first five weeks, and Hunt the same as a Rookie of the Year candidate.
Even if neither has been playing like it the past six weeks.
“We know that’s not our style of football,” Kelce said. “We just have to come together. Don’t let this pull us apart. Alex said to circle the wagons. Get everybody together.”
Getting some guys back on the field would help, too.
The Chiefs’ defense was missing pass rushers Dee Ford and Tamba Hali and run-stuffing defensive lineman Allen Bailey to injuries.
Smith was down two of his top three wide receivers with Chris Conley out for the season and Albert Wilson missing another game with a hamstring injury.
Rarely does a team come off a bye with so many missing pieces.
“I’ll tell you we’ve got young guys out there that are learning and getting better as they go on, and we’re still able to do things with them out there,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said on a conference call Monday. “But again, it’s new for them and you know — I still feel very positive about it.”
There are other reasons for the Chiefs (6-4) to remain positive.
They weren’t hurt by the loss to the Giants, at least in terms of the standings. The Raiders were blown out by the Patriots at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, and the Broncos were beaten at home by the Bengals. The Chargers won, but they’re still tied with Oakland two games back of the Chiefs.
The schedule doesn’t get any tougher for Kansas City, either.
It starts with the freefalling Bills visiting Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, continues with a trip back to the Meadowlands to face the Jets, and includes the Dolphins along with the three AFC West games.
In other words, the Chiefs have ample opportunity to get their mojo back.
“We’re off by one tick on a play and unfortunately that’s cost us,” Reid said. “We have to get out of that. We have to all pull together. We have to pull that rope in the tug-of-war in the right direction here. We do that we’re going to be OK. But you have to dance the same dance.
“If you have a mistake here and there,” he said, “bad things happen.”