An A-Z rewind of the Chiefs 23-7 loss to Indianapolis and a fast-forward glance ahead to next week’s regular-season finale against the Chargers in San Diego.
By VAHE GREGORIAN
The Kansas City Star
A is for Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs have lost three in a row since Oct. 27. That makes them 5-3 at home, 6-1 on the road. So maybe it’s OK that they’ll be traveling, most likely to Indy, for their playoff opener in two weeks.
B is for baffling, which the Chiefs offense was on Sunday. After scraping up 20 touchdowns in their first 10 games, the offense had scored 19 offense TDs in the next four games before producing one on Sunday. This, against an Indy team that had given up 82 points in its last two road games.
C is for Charles, Jamaal, the Chiefs running back who had his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season but seemed under-utilized with 13 carries and five catches for 38 yards.
D is for defensive secondary for the Chiefs, which is struggling as the once-ferocious pass rush has ebbed. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck completed 26 of 37 passes for 241 yards and was sacked just once.
E is for effort of the Chiefs, which was more casual than it had been all season on the way to a result that coach Andy Reid said he would “expect our players to be upset over.”
F is for fumble-itis, which the Chiefs caught on Sunday as they burped up five fumbles and lost two. They’d fumbled just 14 times and lost seven in the first 14 games.
G is for Griff Whalen, who led the Colts with seven receptions after entering the game with 13 all season.
H is for Houston, Justin, the star Chiefs linebacker who has been much missed with an elbow injury the last four-plus game and potentially could return this week … if it’s deemed getting some work entering the playoffs is more important than more rest.
I is for Indianapolis, which the Chiefs figure to be playing in the AFC wild-card game in two weeks. This was a strong win at the right time for the Colts (10-5), and certainly not the statement the Chiefs wanted to make, but what it will mean if they play again is anyone’s guess.
J is for jams, in this case third downs for the Chiefs: They entered the game with a 32-percent conversion rate, second in the NFL, but they turned only one of eight (13 percent) into a first down on Sunday.
K is for kicker Ryan Succop, who missed a 47-yard field goal after making 20 of 21 inside the 50 this season.
L is for linebacker Tamba Hali, who left the game with a sore knee and is to get an MRI this morning.
M is for McCluster, Dexter, whose 25-yard punt return sparked the Chiefs to their only score of the game and established team record for punt-return yardage in a season. He finished the game with 654 for the season, 14 more than Tamarick Vanover’s previous record established in 1999.
N is for … now what? With nothing at stake in terms of playoff standing, will Reid put a premium on the Chiefs playing well at San Diego to regain some footing going into the playoffs? Or will he think it best to have his key players rest and regroup?
O is for overturn their first meeting with the Chargers, which the Chiefs would like to do one way or another considering the 41-38 loss that came after a San Diego TD with 24 seconds left.
P is for punter Dustin Colquitt, who averaged 54 yards on five punts for the Chiefs.
Q is for quarter, third, the Chiefs weak point all season. Indy outscored them 10-0 in the third on Sunday, making the cumulative tally 91-62 for opponents. Other than that, the Chiefs are more than doubling other teams scores in the first (110-44) and fourth (108-44) and outscoring them 126-99 in the second.
R is for reckless, which the Chiefs have been when it comes to penalties: They had seven for 65 yards on Sunday, including several that were costly, and they entered the game 19th in the league with 93 for 704 yards.
S is for Smith, Alex, who a week after throwing for five touchdowns (and a perfect 158.3 passer rating at Oakland) threw for no TDs and two interceptions for a rating of 41.3.
T is for Tyler Thigpen, who formerly held the Chiefs record for rushing yards in a season by a quarterback (386 yards in 2008). But Smith broke it with six carries for 47 yards on Sunday, leaving him with 431 yards on 76 carries for the season.
U is for unanswered points by Indianapolis, 23, after Charles put the Chiefs ahead 7-0 with a 31-yard run to cap their first drive of the game. “You can’t pull your foot off the accelerator … when you go up that quick,” Reid said.
V is for victories: With a win at San Diego, the Chiefs can set an NFL record for most wins by a team that won two or fewer games the season before. They’re currently tied with the 2008 Miami Dolphins and 2012 Colts with 11.
W is for wind chill, 11 degrees, at kickoff on Sunday.
X is for X-factor: Knile Davis, the rookie running back who set the franchise record for longest kickoff return (108 yards) earlier this season and has been growing into the offense lately with two 17-yard TD runs … but fumbled twice on Sunday, losing one that was pivotal.
Y is for yardage, 367-287 in favor of the Colts. Counterintuitively, with an 11-4 record, the Chiefs have been outgained this season 5,480 to 5,046.
Z is for zero turnovers generated by the Chiefs, who entered the game an NFL-best plus-21 in turnover ratio but were minus-four Sunday.