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3 things we learned about the Chiefs

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MINNEAPOLIS — Consecutive scoring drives to start the fourth quarter gave the Kansas City Chiefs a chance for a road win against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

But running back Charcandrick West’s critical fumble on the Vikings’ half of the field spoiled a potential game-winning drive as Minnesota held on for a 16-10 win at TCF Bank Stadium.

For three quarters, the Vikings looked like they would cruise to an easy win.

The Chiefs couldn’t find their way offensively, gaining just two first downs before halftime, and getting one more via penalty.

Minnesota’s defense held Kansas City to just 57 yards on the ground on 18 carries.

The Vikings left points on the board in the first quarter. Bridgewater threw his first interception in the end zone on Minnesota’s opening drive. Its second drive also stalled inside the Kansas City 15, as kicker Blair Walsh drilled a 24-yarder to open scoring.

“I thought in the first half we were fairly dominating and that’s the kind of game you worry about; when you’re winning a game you give them a chance to hang around,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “Then you saw what happened.”

The Vikings led by 13 after 45 minutes, thanks for a 4-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to tight end Kyle Rudolph and a pair of Walsh field goals.

But Cairo Santos’ 48-yard field goal got the Chiefs on the board two minutes into the fourth quarter, and quarterback Alex Smith connected with receiver Albert Wilson on a 42-yard middle screen for a touchdown to make it a three-point game.

All of the sudden, Minnesota’s 13-point lead was down to just three.

“Fifty one yards in total offense and 50 yards in penalties (in the first half); that’s completely unacceptable,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “The second half, we were able to move the ball and the defense continued to play good. We put ourselves in a position to win the game but we didn’t finish it.”

The Vikings drove 53 yards on 10 plays, killing four minutes off the clock and setting up Walsh for his third field goal of the day from 45 yards out.

The Chiefs’ potential winning drive got off to a good start, with Smith connecting on a 37-yard pass to tight end Travis Kelce, but West’s fumble on the next play was recovered Minnesota defensive end Brian Robison at the Vikings 38-yard line.

“The fumble killed everything,” West said. “We were very confident in everything that we did. Fumbles at any point in the game are going to affect your team. That stopped any momentum we had.”

Bridgewater finished 17-of-31 through the air for 249 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. Kansas City held Minnesota to just 84 yards on the ground, including 60 yards on 26 carries by running back Adrian Peterson.

Minnesota wide receiver Stefon Diggs, starting in place of injured Charles Johnson, went over the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career, catching seven passes for 129 yards.

Smith was 22-of-37 through the air with 282 yards and a score.

Kelce hauled in five passes for 88 yards.

What we learned about the Chiefs:

–It’s going to take time for the Chiefs to adjust to life without running back Jamaal Charles. The Pro Bowler, who tore his ACL last week against the Chicago Bears, missed his first game against Minnesota on Sunday and for three quarters, the Chiefs offense struggled to do much of anything. Kansas City rushed for just 57 yards on 18 carries, but Charcandrick West fumbled late, perhaps costing the Chiefs a chance for a comeback win.

–Speaking of West, if Sunday’s workload is any indication, he could be the guy charged with carrying the heavier workload in Charles’ absence. West led Kansas City’s running backs with nine carries for 33 yards, compared to five carried and just 13 yards for Knile Davis. Eight of those 13 yards came on one carry in the second quarter, and with the game in the balance late, West was the one on the field. How his fumble shakes up a potential timeshare in the backfield remains to be seen.

–The Chiefs could be without another big-time weapon next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers after wide receiver Jeremy Maclin went down with a concussion early in the fourth quarter. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he will enter the league’s concussion protocol and his status for the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is in the league’s hands.

Etc.:

–DT Dontari Poe was inactive with a high ankle sprain. Poe was injured in practice on Wednesday and could miss several weeks with the injury. Poe has 13 tackles, including eight solos, in five games this season.

–LB Josh Mauga missed his second consecutive game because of groin and Achilles tendon injuries. Mauga was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie linebacker Ramik Wilson.

–WR Jeremy Maclin left the game in the fourth quarter with a concussion. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Maclin will enter the NFL’s concussion protocol, meaning his availability for next week’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers could be in doubt. Maclin had three catches for 48 yards before the injury.


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