Knile Davis has spent the majority of his rookie season patiently answering questions about his penchant for fumbling, which happens to be one of the biggest reasons the rookie ― one of the most physically gifted running backs in the 2013 NFL Draft ― wasn’t taken until the third round.
Ironically enough, Davis’ issues holding onto the ball never directly effected a regular-season game … until Sunday, that is. Davis had recovered two of his own fumbles this season, but he wasn’t as fortunate against the Colts, as he fumbled twice and lost one in the Chiefs' 23-7 loss to Indianapolis.
Afterward, the very somber rookie spoke softly in front of the media that gathered in front of his locker. He was asked about the importance of having a short memory.
“Very important,” Davis said. “I didn’t play a good game today. Made a lot of mistakes. Got to be better next week.”
The fumble he lost was a crucial one, and he knew it. It came in the second quarter, when he took a handoff up the middle and was smacked by Indianapolis defensive end Robert Mathis, who jarred the ball loose. The Colts recovered and promptly scored two plays later, courtesy of a 33-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Luck to Donald Brown that gave them a 10-7 lead they never relinquished.
“I didn’t have two hands on it,” Davis said. “Gotta have two hands on it at all times.”
But to be fair, Davis wasn’t the only Chief who struggled to hold onto the ball Sunday. Quarterback Alex Smith also committed two fumbles ― he even lost one while trying to step up in the pocket late in the fourth quarter ― and receiver Dexter McCluster muffed a punt, which he recovered.
In all, the Chiefs committed five fumbles and lost two, both of which are season highs in what can generously be deemed their sloppiest performance of the year.
But while the Chiefs’ other fumble came with the game largely out of reach ― they already trailed 23-7 by the time Smith coughed it up ― Davis’ is the most disturbing, and not just because it led directly to points. It was an obvious setback after he had spent the better part of three months working to earn the coaching staff’s trust and prove he was ready to take on a bigger workload, which would help the Chiefs rest star workhorse Jamaal Charles.
It’s easy to forget now, of course, but Davis had racked up a total of 21 carries for 84 yards and two rushing touchdowns the previous three games, and even broke off a 108-yard kickoff return against Denver in which he showed off his breakaway speed and elusiveness.
He had hoped to do the same after his lost fumble Sunday, and he was close ― he broke off a 48-yard return to open the third quarter, only to be stopped by punter Pat McAfee.
“I was just trying to make something happen,” Davis said. “I was trying to take it to the house.”
Instead, he will have to bide his time until next week, when the Chiefs will face the San Diego Chargers in the regular-season finale. It remains to be seen whether he will get an extended workload. The Chiefs’ playoff standing won’t change, win or lose, and they might opt to rest Charles.
Whether they do, it sure seemed as if Davis was itching to fast-forward seven days and get another crack at showing people what he can do.
“When I get my opportunity, I’ll be better next week,” Davis said quietly. “I’m looking forward to it.”