That one is going to sting for a bit. The Kansas City Chiefs lost 24-20 Sunday afternoon in a heartbreaker, much to the delight of several national media outlets. A broken clock is right twice a day so it was bound to happen that the Chiefs would lose when everyone else wanted them to. That does not make this loss any less painful, however. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense had the ball with 64 seconds to go and down by only four. Fans in Kansas City were confident that he was going to march his team down the field and win the game like he has so many times in the past.
Those events did not come to pass. Two plays later, Mahomes makes one of the worst decisions you will ever see him make and throws a disgusting interception to essentially end the game. The Chiefs go home with the loss and the Bills plus all the national outlets patting themselves on the back go home happy. There is always next week, however, and there were several lessons that the Chiefs can take away from this performance that may help their game plan better as the season progresses.
One: The Chiefs Defensive Line Is Simply Not Good Enough
I have been told by dang near everyone that a certain analytics team thinks Chris Jones is one the best defensive linemen in the game, but I am going to have to disagree. This Chiefs’ defensive line is one of the biggest liabilities on this team and it has been exploited for two weeks in a row. It has been a consistent problem all year that this defensive line group cannot get pressure on the quarterback without blitzing two or more extra defenders.
Sure, the defense got home on a couple of those rushes. The drawback to that plan is that your cornerbacks are left on islands. If that extra rush does not get home, there is a huge risk that big plays will be given up over the top, which happened on several occasions Sunday afternoon.
The interior run defense has not been any better, having given up more than five yards a carry to running backs two weeks in a row. Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott must have watched Monday night’s game against Las Vegas and saw that Vegas running back Josh Jacobs gained more than seven yards per rush. McDermott fed his running back Devin Singletary 17 times for 85 yards which made room for the big plays over the top. The inability of Chris Jones and the rest of this defensive line to either reach Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen or stuff the run game was one of the main reasons why the Bills could do whatever they wanted on offense.
Two: The Chiefs Offensive Tackles Are Not Good Enough
It has been widely discussed that Orlando Brown is not the long-term answer at left tackle. This argument was solidified Sunday night as he and fellow tackle Andrew Wylie were getting beaten constantly by the Buffalo defensive linemen. There were several occasions where Patrick Mahomes was running for his life because both tackles were not able to hold off their assignment. Most of the time, Mahomes was able to make a play. Sometimes, like the last offensive play of the game, that pressure forced a mistake.
Mahomes threw two of those mistakes against the Bills’ defense and they were forced because of the pressure applied by the Buffalo defensive line. Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo would do unspeakable acts to have even one defensive lineman who can rush the passer. The offensive tackle tandem of Orlando Brown and Andrew Wylie has thus far proven that they are woefully inadequate for this offense on their own. Andy Reid and his staff are either going to have to come up with another plan to help the two tackles out or hope they are able to figure something out.
Three: The Chiefs Have Just One Consistent Receiver
The connection between Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce is already one of the best the NFL has ever seen. Kelce seems to be there whether the play is specially designed for him or if Mahomes needs a bailout when the play breaks down, as it so often has this season. That situation is great until you realize Kelce is the only consistent pass-catching option on this offense. The Chiefs brought in several options at wide receiver to make up for the trade of Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins, but none of them have been a consistent threat in the offense.
Juju Smith-Schuster had a great game tonight with five catches for 113 yards and his first touchdown in a Chiefs uniform. Outside of Week Six, he has averaged a little over four catches a game for 51 yards. None of the other receivers has done any better. Marquez Valdez-Scantling has been underwhelming since coming over from Green Bay.
Mecole Hardman had a touchdown as well but has been nonexistent so far save for two or three targets a game. No one else has stepped up to be a consistent target to help take the pressure off of Kelce because it is becoming more and more apparent to the league that Kelce is the primary option and no one else is even close.
Four: Darius Harris Has Earned His Spot For The Chiefs
This afternoon’s game was the last in the four-game suspension levied against Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay, Jr. Darius Harris has performed admirably in Gay’s stead, racking 19 tackles, one sack, and one fumble recovery.
Defense makin' early moves! Darius Harris recovers the fumble 💪 pic.twitter.com/XiA9GOtosr — Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) October 16, 2022
While Harris is not able to defend the passing game as well as Gay or Bolton, he has been flying all over the field and becoming one of the best tacklers and run defenders on this defense. Once Willie Gay Jr. gets back into the lineup starting Week Seven, Steve Spagnuolo is going to need to find ways to put Darius Harris in the rotation and Harris has proved he belongs on the field.
Five: Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes Is Mortal
Patrick Mahomes is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He has an NFL MVP on his mantle for his 5,000-yard/50-touchdown season in 2018 along with two AFC titles and a Super Bowl title in 2020. He has consistently made throws that defy psychics, whether he is looking or not, and has overall been the best quarterback that the Kansas City Chiefs have ever had. With all of that being said, Patrick Mahomes still has room to grow. His final throw at the end of the game was one of the worst decisions I have ever seen him make, especially with the game on the line.
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There were 54 seconds on the clock and two timeouts. Every Chiefs fan had to be confident that we were going to score and win the game like Mahomes has done so many times before. Unfortunately, this one turned out more like last year’s AFC title game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Mahomes started off that game strong as well, faltered in the middle, and threw a backbreaking interception that led to a Chiefs loss. Patrick Mahomes is much better than that and I expect him to take this game and use it as a whetstone to fine-tune his game going forward.
This was an amazing game and these things have to have a winner and a loser. It sucks that the Chiefs were on the losing and, quite frankly, deserved it. Buffalo was the better team this afternoon so the Chiefs are going to have to go back to the drawing board to figure out how they are going to beat them down the road.
Tonight’s loss almost certainly ensures that the 2022 AFC championship will go through Orchard Park, New York as the Bills hold sole possession of first place in the AFC. This is still the regular season and Patrick Mahomes has not lost to Josh Allen in the playoffs so there is reason to believe. That belief must be met with action if the Chiefs are going to move past the Bills mafia and make it back to the Super Bowl.