Maybe you’re old enough to remember the last time the Chiefs scored a touchdown, the one commemorated by the potato-sack race celebration that may or may not turn out to resemble some kind of bizarre jinx.
That was two weeks and more than 92 minutes of game clock back — a span punctuated by a hideous performance in a 12-9 overtime loss to the previously hapless New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
That’s an eternity to get nothing done.
Especially with an offensive-minded coach who had been 16-2 coming off bye weeks, as the Chiefs were, and taking on a 1-8 team that had given up 82 points in its last two games.
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Especially with a quarterback who was the front-runner for NFL most valuable player after five games and on Sunday continued a recent regression to the mean.
Alex Smith completed 27 of 40 passes for 230 yards, yes.
And on this gusty day, his gutsy play on the final drive of regulation (he completed five of six passes for 57 yards and ran for 12 more) might have been the story if the Chiefs had, you know, ended it with a touchdown instead of Harrison Butker’s 23-yard field goal with 1 second left to send it into overtime.
Instead, it will be remembered for this:
The rest of Smith’s day was littered with passes so remarkably off-target as to leave you wondering if he was having arm trouble, over- or under-compensating for the wind (which didn’t seem to be bothering counterpart Eli Manning much) or otherwise simply not on the same page with his receivers.
Afterward, coach Andy Reid tried to absorb and deflect blame from Smith, trotting out his familiar “we’ve all got a piece of that thing” as he suggested poor play calls, missed protections and even incorrect depth of pass routes could have been a factor in some of the throws.
But Smith, who threw two interceptions that led to all of the Giants’ points in regulation, nodded in agreement when asked about the notable contrast to a season in which he’d previously thrown 18 touchdown passes with one interception.
There were a lot of passes, he said, he’d like to take back.
“All for different reasons,” said Smith, who said none of those involved the wind and, as ever, didn’t allude to anyone else’s transgressions.
Among the reasons, he added, “whether you see something that’s not there (or) an accuracy issue. … When you lose, those get magnified. Those hurt even more when you go watch them (on film).
“You just start to wonder, ‘what if?’ ”
Trouble is, that’s exactly what the season is trending towards — a budding study in what might have been.
The Chiefs have lost four of five games after their 5-0 start, their profile in the process evaporating from a Super Bowl contender to a team sure to disappoint in the playoffs.
After this parody of the game, Reid spoke about “parity” in the NFL.
But that just rings hollow when you play so poorly against a bad team.
The defense had been the most obvious reason to reel in expectations after a three-game stretch in which it gave up 34 points to Houston and 31 to Oakland and in between couldn’t tackle Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell (179 yards).
Now, though, an offense that looked unstoppable through five games has produced six touchdowns in the last five games, the elusive phenomenon last occurring on Nov. 5 after the Chiefs took a 17-14 lead at Dallas on Smith’s TD pass to Travis Kelce that prompted the celebration in which Smith reluctantly participated.
So now some say it’s time for rookie Patrick Mahomes to replace Smith, just as they were saying, well, the moment after Kareem Hunt fumbled on the first play of the season.
Suit yourself if that’s what you believe, but here’s the thing:
That’s the kind of panicked move you make when you know the lapse is all the quarterback’s fault and/or assume the season’s over, so it’s time to get the hotshot future QB ready for next season and to heck with what Smith has done most of the season … and what zero NFL plays would mean for Mahomes this season.
But this season hardly is over, dispiriting as Sunday was, and it was hardly all Smith’s fault even if the game literally and figuratively was marked by his downward spiral(s).
Remember when Hunt was rushing for 616 yards in the first five games and averaging 8.7, 6.2 and 10.1 yards a carry in his first three?
Hunt has 184 yards in the five games since, including 73 yards in 18 carries on Sunday, and either he’s slowed a half-step in explosiveness or not getting the holes he had been … and that tilts the entire offense.
“When you’re clipping off runs and the run game is rolling,” Smith said, “you really have everything at your disposal.”
Meanwhile, Reid had been 16-2 after bye weeks entering the game Sunday.
Some element of innovation typically has been part of that, but it’s funny how things go:
The Giants’ lone touchdown was set up by an interception after seeming to anticipate the well-worn shovel pass that once appeared impossible to contain.
On the exotic flip side of that, with the score tied 6-6 in the middle of the fourth quarter, Reid called for Kelce to throw a pass that was intercepted.
Then Smith threw another interception, so wildly it was hard to tell if he was overthrowing Demarcus Robinson or underthrowing Tyreek Hill, to set up a Giants go-ahead field goal.
So Smith had a bad game, his worst of the season.
And there is something distressing about not knowing exactly why, even if it’s easy to revert to the default criticisms of his arm that have been debunked all season.
Just the same, the signature of this season is no more set in stone now than when the Chiefs were 5-0.
It’s about what they do about the thoughts Smith is going to have all week:
“If we would have just done this, if I would have just thrown that,” as he put it, adding, “All those goals we keep talking about, until they take those away, they’re still there for us.”
Until they show otherwise, though, the Chiefs are what they’re trending toward — a team that hasn’t been in the end zone since Smith hopped out of it in the potato sack celebration.