The Chiefs’ third-down-defense success rate is backwards.
They’ve been better this season stopping third and short or medium than third and long.
“We’ve been really good at 2 to 6 yards,” Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “From 7 to 10, not good enough.”
On third-and-short plays against the Chiefs this season (1-3 yards) , opponents are converting 54.8 percent. That ranks 10th in the NFL.
From 4-6 yards, opponents have made only 29.2 percent, which ranks second.
But after the Chiefs have done the work on first and second down, they’ve slipped on third.
When facing a third-and-long (7-to-10 yards), the Chiefs rank 32nd in the NFL, with opponents converting 39.7 percent of the time. Third and 10 or longer stands at 33.3 percent, also last in the NFL.
A couple of third-and-long conversions by the Cowboys in their 28-17 victory over the Chiefs on Nov. 5 were killers.
Dak Prescott hit Dez Bryant for 21 yards on a third-and-15 late in the second quarter to set up a touchdown. In the third quarter, a pass interference penalty on cornerback Steven Nelson on third-and-9 resulted in a first down. The Cowboys finished both drives with touchdowns.
For the season, the Chiefs, who take a 6-3 record to their game at the New York Giants on Sunday, are allowing a 41.6 percent success rate on all third downs to rank 21st in the NFL.
Whether is loose coverage or lack of a pass rush — or likely a combination of both factors — the Chiefs have struggled on third and long too often this season.
“It takes all 11 guys to operate together,” Sutton said. “We’ve looked it pretty yard. Usually it’s an individual breakdown, or sometimes it’s a great play.
“But you have to win those.”