Well, we lost. Some good things happened, but we lost.
And I need to figure out a better title format. That being said…
– The Chiefs held the Colts to 0 TDs and a 9-9 tie going into the 4th quarter
– The Chiefs didn’t allowed only one sack (3 in 4 games!) despite going up against Freeney and Mathis
– The Chiefs held Manning to 0 TD passes and 1 INT; a mere 65.0 QB rating
– Despite the perceived rush defense weakness of the Colts, the Chiefs did not have a 100-yard rusher
– Despite the perceived rush defense weakness of the Colts, the Chiefs barely eclipsed 100 yards rushing total (113)
– Despite the Colts’ being down to 2nd and 3rd string Safeties, the Chiefs were not able to exploit the middle of the field
– Despite the weakness of the Colts’ rushing attack, the Chiefs allowed several 8+ yard runs that either set up 2nd-and-short, or converted a 2nd/3rd-and long…including giving an 11-yd TD run on 2nd-and-1 from the 11
I think it was a huge mistake for the Chiefs to start the game with an onside kickoff. Sure, it tells your defense you have confidence they won’t give up an easy TD on a short field if it fails…but it also tells the team that you need trickery from the start to have a chance. And there are no sure things with onside kicks. It is a gamble, at best. And the result is that with a short field, the Colts were able to gamble on trying to establish the running game. If they failed to convert on the first series of downs, they can at least have an excellent chance to pin us inside our own 3. And after they convert even 1 first down, they have a near-automatic FG. The Chiefs did stop a TD with a great play by Carr in the pass game…but the Colts ran on 6 of 8 plays, and moved the ball. That established some confidence for the Colts to run the ball. The Chiefs stuffed the run any number of times…but the Colts were able to get running yards pretty much any time they needed it (they got 8 first downs w/ the run).
– It was also a huge mistake for the Chiefs to go for a 1st down on 4th and 2 from the Colts’ 8. Sure, it again shows confidence in your defense to not let the Colts make a long drive to a score, and in your offense to be able to drive the field and score again…but if you just gave the Colts 3 free points, and then worked so hard to get the ball all the way down the field, you have to get points. I gotta believe the 4th quarter would have played out much differently if the Chiefs were up 12-6 instead of tied 9-9 (taking away the free 3 points and taking the 3 points for the FG instead of going for the TD). But even if you leave the onside kick in, it would have been a huge difference running the 2-minute drill if the Chiefs were down 19-12 instead of down a full 10 points and needing 2 scores.
– It was a smaller, but still big, mistake to give the ball to Charles so much this game. Yes, I know he’s the “home-run hitter”, and I’ve said before that he needs more touches. And he did a fine job. However, despite the title of this article saying that Speedy Running Backs are the Colts’ Achilles’ Heel, the analysis in the article actually makes it clear that pounding backs do more damage to the Colts’ defense. The Colts have built the team on being smaller, lighter, and faster…so it just makes sense that a pounding back like Jones will wear the Colts out more; the Colts would have to respond by bringing more defenders up to the line of scrimmage, and that would either result in Jones breaking a long run at some point, or in setting up the Colts’ for a morale-breaking, long play-action pass. Instead, Charles never really wore down the Colts, and their speed allowed them to recover from covering other players, take good angles, and keep Charles from breakaway TDs. That actually helped build the Colts’ confidence, and the last run of over 10 yards by Charles was with about 8:31 in the 3rd quarter (14 yards).
– Bowe dropped an easy TD that would have put the Chiefs up by 4 (the Chiefs still got a FG). Then he dropped an even easier short pass. Then McCluster dropped a pass. It was an 0-3 passing 3-and-out that was 100% on the receivers. Since that was coming off of an INT of Manning, all it did was continue to help the Colts’ morale. Going into the 4th tied at 9 was great, since most people said the Chiefs would get beaten easily, but going into the 4th quarter up by 4 would have been much, much better. Again, if nothing else changed, it would have meant the Chiefs’ last 2-minute drill possession would have had the Chiefs down by just 6…a TD would have meant an automatic win (avoiding the need to consider going for 2 to avoid overtime on the road).
I don’t consider this a “ripped off” loss, or a moral victory, or a “we had that game won, but this one play changed the outcome”.
We lost. The Colts won.
It was a solid win for the Colts.
What made the difference is that the Colts won the game in the trenches. The prevented any pressure of Manning in the first half, and created openings for the RBs to get a few long runs, and to get enough yards for short yardage 3rd down conversions, and gave Manning enough time to get the ball out where the WR could make the play even when we brought pressure.
Still, we played a good Colts’ team very tough. Our passing defense kept Manning and his WRs out of the end zone. The defense also played the run very tough, holding them to just 3.1 ypc. This team was in the Super Bowl last year, and we gave them all they could handle.
I think it shows the Chiefs are for real.
The disappointing thing is that this was a a winnable game. How much better it would be to have beaten a Super Bowl team at home! How much more “for real” would we be if we were 4-0 after winning on the road in a game no one gave us a chance to win!
The Chiefs will continue to improve, too.
I really think the Chiefs can hang with any team in the NFL at home or on the road. I think we have a chance to be 8-0 at Arrowhead, win a few games on the road, and make the playoffs. We actually have a good chance to win the AFC West, with as inconsistent as the Chargers have been so far.
As always, we’ll see how it actually turns out. But things look good for the Chiefs to remain ahead of the expected rebuilding curve this year.