The Kansas City Chiefs fell under .500 for the first time since Patrick Mahomes has taken over under center. After a Sunday afternoon of sloppy football and turnover-laden play, the Chiefs fell to the Los Angeles Chargers 30-24 and now have lost two straight. Whether it was an interception that popped off the shoulder of Marcus Kemp or a Tyreek Hill fumble deep in Chargers territory, the Chiefs couldn’t seem to get out of their own way today. Ultimately, these self-inflicted wounds ended up costing them the game.
Although it is still early in the season, it feels strange to see the reigning AFC Champions at the bottom of the AFC West, while teams like the Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos remain undefeated. The Chiefs could have easily won these two games if not for some critical mistakes in key situations.
Here are five numbers to consider when looking back at the loss to Los Angeles:
The Chargers were able to capitalize on Kansas City’s mishaps, scoring 21 points off four turnovers. Los Angeles jumped to an early 14-0 lead by scoring after fumbles by Tyreek Hill and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Not only did these turnovers result in the loss of possession, but they also killed any offensive momentum that the Chiefs had going because they occurred deep in Chargers territory. In fact, Mahomes’ interception on the first drive also came at a time when the offense was marching deep into Los Angeles’ half of the field.
Everyone knows how high-powered this offense can be, but they won’t be able to realize their full potential until they stop beating themselves by committing turnovers deep in enemy territory.
Coming into the season, much was made about how the Chiefs needed to protect Mahomes and give him time in the pocket after their Super Bowl fiasco. The front office provided Mahomes with a completely retooled offensive line, but they have done it at the cost of ignoring the defense.
The Chiefs’ defense has allowed 25-plus points in four-straight games, something they hadn’t done since 2008. The defense wasn’t able to fluster Justin Herbert, only recording one sack. Even worse, they only pressured Herbert nine times over the course of the entire game.
In a game where your offense is slow to start and doesn’t seem to be able to get much going, you need to be able to rely on your defense and their ability to get stops, allowing the offense to get another chance to put up points.
The Chiefs’ offense is undoubtedly one of the best in the league, but you can’t ask them to win shootouts every week. Ten of Mahomes’ 12 career losses have come in games where the opposing team has put up 30 or more points. That won’t work given that other defenses have learned to play against Kansas City.
Before the last two weeks, Patrick Mahomes had one of the best stat lines of any quarterback in the month of September. He was undefeated with 11 wins, throwing for 35 touchdowns and no interceptions.
But it feels like some of that magic has faded away because Mahomes has thrown three interceptions in the last two weeks. Some of the blame for these turnovers can’t be put on him, the first interception of the game bounced off Kemp’s shoulder before Asante Samuel Jr. made the leaping takeaway. But he overthrew Travis Kelce in an attempt to make a play on the run when the game was tied 24.
Mahomes’ ability to roll out and make off-schedule plays sets him apart. But in tight games, you would like to see him take what the defense is giving him and not force anything.
One of Edwards-Helaire’s bright spots was his ability to run the ball and pick up chunk yardage on the ground. He picked up 100 yards on 17 carries while averaging 5.9 yards a carry. He also forced six missed tackles.
With teams taking away Tyreek Hill’s ability to stretch the field, maybe the Chiefs’ offense could utilize Edwards-Helaire’s ability to get the ground game going early in an attempt to force the defense up and allow Hill and Mecole Hardman to blow by opposing defenders.
The Chiefs’ best chance to win is by having Mahomes throw the ball, but they need to use Edwards-Helaire to potentially open up the passing game in the future.
Despite the loss, a bit of history was made on Arrowhead Field during the game. The star of the reality TV show Catching Kelce went for over 100 yards for the 26th time, breaking Hall of Famer Tony Gonzales’ franchise record for most games over 100 yards.
Kelce has been nothing short of dominant during his time in the NFL. He continues to be one of the best tight ends in the entire league with his ability to get in space and grind out yards after the catch, fighting through contact.
With teams keying in on Hill, Kelce has become not only Mahomes’ safety blanket but also his favorite weapon. He commanded 11 targets, which led the team on Sunday. It should be interesting to see how Kelce builds upon this record during his tenure with the Chiefs, and if the extra attention put on Hill continues to benefit him.