Monday Morning Quarterback: Chiefs' loss a killer

By Steve Sell
November 21, 2016

Monday morning quarterback...

• COSTLY LOSS FOR CHIEFS — The Kansas City Chiefs had been living life on the edge during their 7-2 start, including harrowing victories over San Diego and Carolina.

Sunday, they fell over the edge.

If the Chiefs don’t wind up making the playoffs, they’ll look back at Sunday’s game with Tampa Bay as the loss that made the difference.

The Chiefs held a slim lead for much of the game, but 10 unanswered late points gave the Bucs a 19-17 victory. It was the first home loss of the season for the Chiefs, who must dominate at home if they’re to go far this season.

Once again, the defense could not get off the field and the offense was meager.

Tampa Bay converted 11 of 15 third-down plays and its offensive line made life easy for quarterback Jameis Winston. All he had to do was find which receiver Chiefs defensive back Steven Nelson was covering and get the ball to him. I can’t recall a D-back being targeted as many times as Nelson was.

A sign of how bad the Chiefs defense played was that Tampa Bay punted only once all day. While allowing 19 points is acceptable, letting the Bucs dominate time of possession was inexcusable.

Offensively, KC quarterback Alex Smith hasn’t been the same since he was concussed three weeks ago. He had decent numbers, but most of his completions were 5-yard plays. The Chiefs again got away from the run even though Spencer Ware was hammering away.

This is a Kansas City team that has little margin for error, especially with the injuries piling up. And asking the Chiefs to win in Denver for a second straight year on Sunday is a monumental task. The schedule gets much tougher the rest of the way as there are no gimmes. Two games with Denver, and divisional games against San Diego and Oakland still loom. Even playing Tennessee at home won’t be easy, especially the way the Titans run the ball. The other game is against Atlanta and one can only wonder how many yards Julio Jones will have against a secondary that is getting torched repeatedly.

• GREAT WIN FOR KU — Good for the Jayhawks.

Their come-from-behind 24-21 victory over Texas on Saturday was a shot in the arm for a bedraggled program.

Being a KU alum, it was painful to see one side of the bleachers nearly empty. I know this team hasn’t inspired the fans to come out and support it, but it’s almost as if they have turned their backs on the team.

I still don’t know if David Beaty is the guy to lead KU out of the wilderness, but beating a Texas team that has more resources than about any school in the country is a step in the right direction. The over-under on KU this year was 1.5 wins, so they surpassed the belief of the odds-makers.

KU’s defense, other than the first play of the game, was terrific. It forced six turnovers and basically won the game.

The offense will never be Big 12 quality until there are major upgrades in the line. Until the final drive, KU did next-to-nothing to help its defense.

Beaty and his staff have a long way to go to get KU to being competitive weekly. This year’s recruiting is going to be crucial because another two-win season is not acceptable next year.

• QUALITY K-STATE WIN — Kansas State’s 42-21 doubling of sliding Baylor is probably the closest thing to a signature win this season for the Wildcats, especially given that Texas couldn’t even beat KU and Texas Tech was hammered 66-10 by Iowa State on Saturday.

The Wildcats are now 6-4 overall and figure to finish 8-4 as they should easily take care of KU in Manhattan and then find a way to beat mediocre TCU in Fort Worth.

As I was watching the game, I wondered why the Wildcats even bothered attempting a pass. Baylor’s run defense was a sieve and any runner K-State put in the backfield had gaping holes as the offensive line was overwhelming.

I’ve said it all year, this Kansas State football team is better than people nationally think. They are going to finish 6-3 in the Big 12, which even though it’s down year in the conference is still a good feat. Sometimes I think Bill Snyder and his coaching staff try to out-think themselves. The plan this week should be to keep the ball on the ground because they could run up 400 yards rushing on a KU team that is obviously going to experience a letdown from the high of ending its long Big 12 losing streak.