Monday, October 25, 2021
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Costly turnovers and penalties lead to Chiefs second close loss in a row

The Kansas City Chiefs have dug themselves a massive hole to begin a season that analysts once suggested could be the year the Chiefs go undefeated.

With an abysmal 30-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, the Chiefs are now 1-2 to start the season and remain in the cellar of the ultra-competitive AFC West. In a game where Kansas City ran 15 more plays and had 12 more first downs, there is no excuse for this type of loss.

An offense that is careless with the ball and a defense that lacks discipline in crucial moments carry the blame for this defeat. 

The offense had four turnovers for the game, while the defense was penalized on key third downs which extended the Chargers drives. 

Leading the turnover department with two atrocious interceptions was the once undefeated superstar of September, quarterback Patrick Mahomes. 

One pick was on an infamous Mahomes no-look pass to wide receiver Marcus Kemp that was caught off the bounce by a diving Asante Samuel Jr. The other came on a Chiefs drive late in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 24. Mahomes scrambled to his right and horrendously overthrew Travis Kelce deep on a key third down.

For the game, those four turnovers led to 21 Chargers points, 70% of their overall score.

This is the first time the Chiefs have had a losing record since Mahomes became the starter in 2018, and he bears much of the responsibility for the Chiefs’ unthinkable start to their 2021 campaign. 

Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire initially rebounded mightily from his own costly turnover last week, having his first 100-yard performance of the season. However, his lack of ball security cost the Chiefs for the second week in a row. 

Bringing up the rear in the turnover saga for the Chiefs on Sunday was wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who lost a fumble in the Chargers red zone. 

Although the Chiefs’ defense came out hot with a 3-and-out and a punt on the Chargers first two drives, the lack of ball security on offense put an already reeling defense in several compromising positions that they could not overcome. 

For the third week in a row, the Chiefs defense struggled on every level from the position groups to the execution of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 scheme.

The Chargers racked up an impressive 352 yards of total offense on just 61 plays, with quarterback Justin Herbert throwing for 281 yards and four touchdowns along the way. 

Brutalizing the Chiefs secondary, with an emphasis on the cornerbacks, was the talented receiver duo of Mike Williams and Keenan Allen.

They combined for 172 yards on 15 catches with three touchdowns.

To make matters worse, struggling Chiefs corner Mike Hughes was absolutely “Mossed” by Williams to put Los Angeles up by six with less than a minute to go in regulation. 

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler chopped up the linebacking core with ease, netting 107 yards from scrimmage with six receptions and a receiving touchdown. 

The defensive line unit was just as mediocre, giving up five yards per carry on the ground. The pass rush only managed to get a single sack, and they gifted Herbert enough time in the pocket to complete 68.4% of his passes.

To add insult to injury, the lack of discipline on defense caused penalties that extended Chargers’ drives in key moments in the game.

Two of the Chiefs’ six total penalties were obvious pass interference calls that kept their opponent on the field instead of ending their drives prematurely.

Both calls led to eventual scores that slowly siphoned the momentum that the Chiefs had gained during those periods in the game.

In the next two games versus a good Eagles team on the road, then a superb Bills squad in a rematch of the AFC Championship game last season, the Chiefs must return to usual form or risk being out of the playoff picture before midseason.   

lbmcc@umsystem.edu

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