The answers are right here, Chiefs defensive end Rakeem Nunez-Roches said as he looked around a dejected locker room.
The guys who led the Chiefs to a 5-0 start when they became the toast of the NFL are the same ones who will lead them out of the current malaise, which continued Sunday with a head-shaking 12-9 overtime loss to the New York Giants, who entered the game at 1-8.
“Just do your job, everybody, collectively,” Nunez-Roches said. “I know it sounds simple, but that really is all it is. You can’t go back and say we need to change this or change that and do this different. Everybody needs to focus in on what they’re supposed to do.”
In losing four of the last five games, the Chiefs have found different ways to lose. On Sunday, the offense let down, not getting into the end zone and committing three turnovers.
“Our defense held them to nine points (in regulation) and in this league that should be good enough to win,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said.
A loss at Oakland weighed more heavily on the defense. And the Chiefs’ defense couldn’t come up with a stop in overtime Sunday after the Giants took over on their 18. The big play was a fourth-and-5 completion from Eli Manning to Roger Lewis Jr. against Phillip Gaines. The Chiefs brought the house, but the Giants made the play anyway to set up the game-winning field goal.
Whatever the issue, Nunez-Roches believes the solutions are internal.
“There doesn’t need to be drastic change,” Nunez-Roches said. “We have all the answers. You can’t have games where only the defense is clicking and something else is lacking, or only the offense or special teams is clicking.
“In order for us to be as great as we can be, to be in the Super Bowl, we have to execute all of them. We did it the first month or so of the season. Everything and everybody was rolling. We were holding each other accountable.”
A common thread through the last two losses, dating to the 28-17 setback to the Cowboys before the bye week, was slow starts. At Dallas, the Chiefs fell behind 14-3 before briefly taking a lead.
Sunday, they never led.
“We can’t start slow on the road,” safety Ron Parker said. “We have to finish fast and start fast on the road. … We’ve got to get our swag back, our mentality back.”