An A-Z rewind of the Chiefs’ 20-12 loss to the Steelers and a fast-forward look ahead:
A is for ambitious algorithm for the Chiefs (8-7) to salvage a wild-card berth: Presto, just beat San Diego (9-5) in the regular-season finale at Arrowhead Stadium … and have Baltimore (9-6) lose at home to Cleveland (7-8) … and hope Houston (8-7) loses at home to Jacksonville (3-12).
B is for bold move by Chiefs coach Andy Reid to go for it on fourth and one at the Pittsburgh 12 late in the second quarter. Love the call or hate it, it reflected a reality: the Chiefs have scored more than two touchdowns just twice in their last seven games, and Reid felt compelled to do something to generate more offense.
C is for Cairo Santos, the Chiefs rookie kicker, whose four field goals accounted for all of their points Sunday.
D is for déjà vu all over again: After a 9-0 start last season, the Chiefs went 2-5 down the stretch. After a 7-3 start this season, they’ve lost four of their last five.
E is for end zone, which no Chiefs wide receiver has found through 15 games.
F is for fake field goal by the Chiefs, the first special teams fake of any kind in Reid’s two seasons (unless you count the fake fake punt by Dustin Colquitt last week against Oakland). The flip from holder Colquitt to Travis Kelce worked perfectly, setting up a first and goal at the Pittsburgh 6-yard line … only for the Chiefs to have to settle for a field goal, anyway.
G is for good enough to win, the Chiefs defense, which did its job in holding Pittsburgh to 20 points after the Steelers had averaged 33.4 in their previous eight games.
H is for Houston, Justin, the Chiefs linebacker who recorded his NFL-best 18th sack to stand two away from trying Derrick Thomas’ club record set in 1990.
I is for incompletions by Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, just seven in 25 attempts, as he completed 72 percent of his passes.
J is for Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs’ star running back, who had a rough day with just 29 yards on nine carries, a pivotal lost fumble and a dropped pass on their last drive.
K is for Kevin Vickerson, the Chiefs’ defensive tackle who bowled over Pittsburgh guard Kelvin Beachum on a late field goal and induced an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Steelers’ Ramon Foster, who yanked off Vickerson’s helmet.
L is for losing trend: Including the playoff game at Indianapolis, the Chiefs are just 10-13 since their 9-0 start in 2013.
M is for moot point: the Chiefs continue to outscore opponents in the fourth quarter, 108-51 now, but 6-3 this time was just too little too late.
N is for NFL record, rushing touchdowns allowed: Through 14 games, the Chiefs had given up just two, matching the best in NFL history and last done in 1971 — when teams played 14 games. Le’Veon Bell on Sunday scored the third of the season against the Chiefs, who still have a chance to at least tie the record since the advent of the 16-game format in 1978. It could not immediately be determined Sunday night if any team had held a team to as few as three since then.
O is for one punt all game by Colquitt, as the Chiefs’ drives otherwise ended with Santos’ four field goals, the one snuffed out on fourth and one and another doused by the Charles fumble.
P is for pulling ahead of Charles for the team scoring lead, Santos, whose 88 points eclipse the running back tied with Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch for the NFL lead in touchdowns with 14.
Q is for quiz: When was the last time the Chiefs went to the playoffs in two straight seasons? Not since 1994-1995.
R is for red-zone offense of the Chiefs, which couldn’t score a touchdown in four trips there.
S is for sacks allowed by the Chiefs, six Sunday and 45 for the season — six more than they’ve managed themselves.
T is for three-hundred yard passing game by Alex Smith, his first in a regular-season game with the Chiefs. He completed a career-best 31 passes in 45 attempts for 311 yards.
U is for up next, San Diego, which the Chiefs beat 23-20 on Oct. 19 at Qualcomm Stadium on a late 48-yard field goal by Santos. The Chargers had won six of their previous seven meetings.
V is for volatile tight end Travis Kelce, whose personal foul offset a roughing the passer call on Pittsburgh.
W is for Wilson, Albert, the rookie receiver who had career-highs of five receptions for 87 yards, all in the first half.
X is for X-factor: the first half. The Chiefs are 2-5 in games in which they trail at halftime.
Y is for yards in the game, 327 to 282 in favor of the Chiefs, who simply kept stalling where it counted most.
Z is for zero, the margin for error with which the Chiefs entered the game in terms of controlling their playoff hopes, which now are left to a combination of whether they can beat the Chargers and the whims of fate.