NFL Wire News

Chiefs lament games that got away

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KANSAS CITY — The Kansas City Chiefs took their medicine on Sunday, and it did not taste very good.

A 19-7 victory over the San Diego Chargers gave them a 9-7 record and allowed them to end the season on a winning note. But 24 hours later, they were cleaning out their lockers, exchanging addresses and phone numbers and heading out the door until the spring. They weren’t back at work getting ready for the AFC playoffs because there were too many Sundays when they did not get the job done.

That made a victory over the Chargers bittersweet for the Chiefs. They were a good team; they just were not good enough to keep playing.

“I know this was a good team,” said a very good pass rusher, outside linebacker Justin Houston. “I feel like every game we lost, we gave it away. When you look back on a season like that and think about the games you should have won and are supposed to win, I think it hurts more than anything.”

Like the opener against Tennessee, an inexplicable loss to a team that went on to win just one more game during the season. There was the Thursday night game in Oakland where they allowed the winless Raiders to run down the field in the fourth quarter and grab a victory. Those are two games they should have won, just based on the records of the opponents. Two more victories would have made them 11-5, the same record they held last year.

“We’ll play it out in our minds quite a lot over the next weeks and months,” said outside linebacker Tamba Hali. “For me, it was the game in Oakland. That was the one that hurt us the most. They had not won a game and we let them get an edge there at the end. That was a real destructive game.”

Generally after a game, head coach Andy Reid answers all the questions and says next to nothing. That’s how he views the role of the head coach. There’s only so far that he’s willing to pull back the curtain and reveal the inner workings of his football team. But at season’s end, he left little doubt where he thought his team stumbled in the 2014 season.

“When you’ve got it in your hands to control, lock it down,” Reid said. “Don’t let that part get away, ever. From a coaching standpoint and a player standpoint we didn’t get that done. While it’s fresh on the players’ minds I think it’s important that they feel how important every game is in this league. There’s so much parity in the league. These games are so close that you take this into the offseason.

“Is it one more rep that you put in or you work a little harder at camp? Whatever that is we do so we are still playing next week.”

About half of the teams that make the playoffs one season do not go back the next. This year it’s five teams that won’t return, and the Chiefs are part of that group along with San Diego, New Orleans, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

The Chiefs came up short because they did not take care of their own business. At one point in November they were 7-3 and even a .500 mark over the final six games would have been enough to keep them playing next weekend. Instead, they went 2-4 and that’s just not the formula for being a postseason participant.

“We were 7-3 and got in a little slide on the back end of the season,” said quarterback Chase Daniel. “There are some disappointed guys in that locker room and they should be. If you just take a look back overall this season, we didn’t play as well as we should’ve, that’s the bottom line.”

REPORT CARD VS. CHARGERS

–PASSING OFFENSE: C – Backup quarterback Chase Daniel was running the show for the injured Alex Smith (lacerated spleen), but the Chiefs still came out throwing the ball with good results against San Diego. Daniel completed his first nine passes, finding five different receivers. But come the second half, he lost his passing mojo, hitting only 30 percent of his attempts. Overall, Daniel had a completion percentage of 59.3 for an average of 5.8 yards per attempt. He was sacked four times and took off running on two other plays, as the pass protection overall was poor.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: C – The Chiefs really did not build a strong running game in their victory, rushing for 111 yards on 26 carries, or 4.3 yards per carry. Jamaal Charles was hampered by a hamstring problem and had just 54 yards rushing, while Knile Davis contributed 23 yards. Rookie De’Anthony Thomas had only one chance, getting 18 yards and the longest run of the game for the Chiefs.

–PASS DEFENSE: B – The Chiefs gave up nearly 300 passing yards, but they were able to batter San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers with seven sacks and two interceptions. Rivers completed 58.8 percent of his throws and averaged 8.6 yards per attempt, but he lost 42 yards on those sacks, four of them from outside linebacker Justin Houston.

–RUSH DEFENSE: C – In the first half, the Chargers really got their running game going behind rookie Branden Oliver. When they got behind on the scoreboard, San Diego pretty much forgot the ground game in the second half. Oliver averaged 5.1 yards per carry, including a touchdown run. Overall, the Chiefs did not do a good job in stopping the run.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: B – The Chiefs’ kicking game produced 12 points as kicker Cairo Santos wound up his rookie season by hitting four of five field-goal attempts. De’Anthony Thomas had a big day returning punts, averaging 17.3 yards on four returns, including a 41-yarder. The Chiefs allowed next to nothing on returns and punter Dustin Colquitt had a 48.6-yard net average.

–COACHING: B – Without starting quarterback Alex Smith, the offensive staff put together a game plan that worked in the first half for Daniel. Defensively, coordinator Bob Sutton’s group gave up the yards, but not the touchdowns, making fourth-down stops in consecutive San Diego possessions in the fourth quarter to go with forcing three turnovers and seven sacks.


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