Chiefs

AFC Championship report card: Chiefs offense didn’t get usual stellar marks

The Chiefs will have to wait at least one more year to end their Super Bowl drought after a heart-wrenching 37-31 overtime loss to the defending AFC champion New England Patriots on Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

Player of the game: Wide receiver Sammy Watkins provided an offensive spark on a night when the Chiefs struggled to move the ball consistently. He caught four passes for 114 yards receiving, more than the next two leading receivers combined.

Reason to hope: The Chiefs rallied from their worst offensive half of the season to score 31 second-half points and lead in the fourth quarter.

Reason to mope: They fell a play or two away from the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance since 1970, and there’s no way that’s not a tough pill to swallow.

Looking ahead: The Chiefs now switch into offseason mode. Six players were selected to represent the team in the Pro Bowl, and Patrick Mahomes is likely to be chosen the NFL’s MVP.

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Report Card

Rushing offense: D. Through three quarters, the Chiefs had just 37 rushing yards with 11 coming from Mahomes. The Patriots bottled up Damien Williams for most of the night, and they were stout at the point of attack and penetrated the backfield.

Passing offense: C+. Patrick Mahomes threw for 295 yards on 16 of 31 passing. That’s not as efficient a performance as he strives for, and he was sacked four times. He still posted a 117 passer rating. Sammy Watkins posted one of his best receiving games of the season with 114 yards on four receptions. The Patriots largely neutralized Travis Kelce (23 yards) and Tyreek Hill (one catch, 42 yards).

Rushing defense: C-. The Patriots set the tone by playing power football from the start with multiple tight ends and a fullback as they ran the ball right at the Chiefs. Their opening drive went 15 plays and 80 yards (42 rushing). They averaged 3.7 yards per carry, which wasn’t an overwhelming number, and they didn’t have a run of longer than 14 yards. However, they got the tough yards when needed, including four touchdown runs. Sony Michel rushed for 113 yards on 29 carries.

Passing defense: C+. Tom Brady didn’t get sacked, and the defense only recorded one quarterback hit. Meanwhile, he completed 65 percent of his throws (30 of 46) for 348 yards and a touchdown. The defense created two turnovers on interceptions and nearly had another to secure the win until an offside penalty wiped it away.

Special teams: C. Tyreek Hill tried to make a big return in his own end, but ended up losing yards and a penalty was assessed on top of that. Tremon Smith had a couple shaky decisions to take the ball out of the end zone, but his best return came late in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the Patriots averaged 26.7 yards on kickoff returns (not including one squibbed return). The punt coverage unit nearly came up with a momentum-swinging recovery, but replay review overturned it.

Coaching: B-. The Chiefs staff matched wits with possibly the best to ever do it in the NFL. They get credit for staying within striking distance despite an awful first half that included just three first downs and 32 total yards. They ran just five offensive plays in the first half, and they were only down two scores. They took the lead in the second half, but execution hurt more than strategy early on and in late-game situations. They won the turnover battle and committed fewer penalties.

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.
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