Defense, not officials, to blame for Chiefs' loss

By Steve Sell
October 20, 2017

Blaming the officials — as many are doing today —  for Kansas City’s 31-30 loss to Oakland on Thursday is the easy way out for Chiefs fans, even though it did seem like they were going to call penalty after penalty until the Raiders finally got it right as I don’t think I’d ever seen so many plays AFTER the clock had reached 0:00.

No, Chiefs fans, when you break it down, it was the utter crumbling of the defense that ripped your heart out and had you cursing your radios and TV sets after the Raiders saved their season in the Black Hole instead of falling deep into the abyss.

Call them the defense-less Chiefs. The bedraggled unit, complete with no pass rush and two defensive backs who are becoming household names for being targeted more than any DBs in the NFL, gave up 505 yards (417 of those through the air) to bad-backed Derek Carr, who until Thursday had more sleepless nights about playing the Chiefs than any other team in the NFL as Kansas City had owned him.

It was like a Big 12 game had broken out the way the teams were going up and down the field as defense was only an afterthought.

Wow, the Chiefs just 10 days ago were being hailed as the best team in the NFL. Fans were already saving for Super Bowl tickets. They were the trendy team, with their uber-efficient quarterback and sleek greyhound skill-position players. They could score in spectacular ways, be it rookie wunderkind Kareem Hunt or Tyreek Hill, who is actually Usain Bolt wearing shoulder pads.

The Chiefs’ offense was good on Thursday. Plenty good. But entering the fourth quarter with a nine-point lead, the Chiefs wilted and the Raiders came on.

Alex Smith did all he could. He picked apart the Raiders even though his offensive line could hardly pass block. Just imagine what kind of numbers he could put up if he operated behind Will Shields and Willie Roaf like Trent Green did. The guy would be off the charts.

The only question I had is why Hunt and Travis Kelce weren’t utilized more. Hunt did have 18 rushes for 87 yards, but should have doubled his four pass receptions given how open he was in the flat. Kelce had four catches for 33 yards and seemed to be forgotten in the second half.

But 30 points should be more than enough.

No, this is on the defense. I’m sure every Chiefs fan was asking, “isn’t there anybody else they can try at corner other than Terrance Mitchell? And poor Philip Gaines with his creaky knee simply doesn’t have the speed to cover. Yet, they’re apparently the best the Chiefs have or somebody else would have been in there.

This game also revealed just how important Eric Berry, lost for the season in Week 1, is to the Chiefs’ defense. Berry is an enforcer from his safety spot, but teams are now just running over the middle unabated and without fear. Berry is a supreme hitter and makes receivers think twice about entering his zone. Now the Chiefs have Eric Murray at safety and he’s hardly the specimen that Berry is.

As mentioned earlier, the Chiefs are getting no pass rush. Justin Houston seemingly disappeared in the fourth quarter and Dee Ford was so exhausted there was one play where he simply stood up, put his foot on the gas and the needle read empty. The Chiefs had to take a defensive timeout late in the game just to give their alleged pass rushers a blow.

Kansas City is now 5-2 and still in good playoff shape. But it has Denver at home next week and then a road game at Dallas before the bye week. By then, the Chiefs — especially the defense — could be running on fumes.