Lots of blame for this Chiefs loss

By Steve Sell
December 19, 2016

Chiefs football coach Andy Reid is no doubt being villified in discussions around every water cooler today in Kansas City.

Of course, everyone is focusing on Reid’s decision to call time just before Tenneesse kicker and former Chief Ryan Succop attempted a 53-yard, game-winning field goal. Succop’s attempt, naturally, came up short and Chiefs fans began celebrating.

But the official was slow in blowing his whistle for the timeout and Succop should not even have had an attempt. Armed with the knowledge he needed a little more oomph, he scraped over his second attempt by the narrowest of margins and sent the Chiefs to a 19-17 defeat, their second late-game loss at home this year.

Instead of being able to play stress-free the final two weeks — a win over the Titans would have put them in the playoffs — now they have to win and keep an eye as well on the scoreboard. I’m sure Reid will say his team can only control what’s in front of it, but human nature being that players are a curious bunch, they’ll be following what’s happening elsewhere.

Reid did nothing wrong by calling that timeout. It’s almost an automatic by any coach, trying to ice the kicker. Succop no doubt had been warming up on the sideline and knew he would have to hit the brick-like football square.

So Reid, to me, gets a pass on that decision.

But he did make some other in-game decisions that caused heads to be scratched, some of them where he was trying to show his team he had faith in it. As he noted after the game, he has to put his team in better positions to be successful.

It’s admirable he takes the blame for the loss as in the end the buck stops with him. He ranks 11th all-time in the NFL in coaching wins, so the guy does know a little something about being successful.

But how about the offense stepping up and shouldering some of the load?

For the third straight game the Chiefs’ offense did not score a second-half touchdown. Heck, they didn’t score a touchdown over the last three quarters on Sunday. They came out smoking with 14 first-quarter points and then managed only 3 the rest of the game. And they left a ton of points on the field as Tennessee stuffed them at the goal-line as the offensive line on three straight occasions couldn’t get enough of a push for one measly yard.

As has been mentioned many times, quarterback Alex Smith is a game manager not somebody who’s like Aaron Rodgers and can make mind-boggling plays to win games like Sunday when his last-minute 60-yard heave to Jordy Nelson set up a game-winning field goal for the Packers. I know it was cold, but Smith threw for less than 200 yards (Tennessee’s Marcus Mariotta threw for 241 for a run-heavy team) and missed some open receivers.

The Chiefs did have 158 yards rushing, but 68 of that came on the first carry of the game by Tyreek “Thrill” Hill. The team’s energizer bunny, though, never touched the ball again, instead was used as a decoy. Travis Kelce, who had been making 100-yard receiving games commonplace, had only 41 yards and reports after the game had him questioning the play-calling.

While the defense for the most part did the job, once again it went soft on the game-winning drive. The Titans sped up the field with no timeouts and Delanie Walker, who had been MIA, came up huge with some big catches to give Succop his chance.

Kansas City now hosts Denver on Christmas Night and then closes at San Diego, which scared the bejeebers out of Oakland on Sunday. Sunday’s loss would not have been as devastating had the Chargers not let a lead get away. The Raiders have been doing this all year as you get the feeling they’re in the midst of something special.

Kansas City now needs to win out and get some help to win the division. It’s that simple. Oakland hosts Indianapolis and then finishes at Denver, two very difficult game.

The Chiefs had the game in their cold hands on Sunday and let it slip away.