For Andy Reid, close counted on Sunday ... when it came to turnovers.
For the first time this season, the Chiefs didn’t get a takeaway in a game, but they were in position to make those kinds plays in Sunday’s 33-28 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. And to Reid, that’s most of the battle ... and proof that the defense is making progress.
“We were so close on these turnovers, man,” Reid said. “We are right there. I think the more that we play in the defense, the more that those things will happen.
“They were attacking the football. I appreciate seeing that. That becomes important. Turnovers are a big thing in this league. Those things are going to start clicking, if you keep the mindset of attacking.”
Among the almost turnovers: safety Tyrann Mathieu got his hands on a Lamar Jackson pass in the end zone to help prevent a touchdown. It was one of three defended passes for Mathieu in the game.
It’s the first year for Mathieu in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense, and Reid thinks Mathieu eventually will finish those plays.
“The more familiar you become with a defense, then you’re not going to off by just a tick anymore,” Reid said. “You’re in an even better position.”
Cornerback Charvarius Ward was in a good position to pick off or at least knock down a pass that resulted in a 23-yard completion on a third-and-17 in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs also batted down three of Jackson’s passes at the line but couldn’t come up with a pick.
“We’re going to continue to push toward those,” Mathieu said.
The importance of creating turnovers? The Chiefs lead the NFL in that department over the past four years with 115 takeaways. They’re second in fewest giveaways (61). That difference has helped build the NFL’s second-best record over that stretch.
And they’ve made some big plays on defense this season. In the opener at Jacksonville, linebacker Damien Wilson stripped running back Leonard Fournette after a third-quarter completion that helped turn that game. A week later at Oakland, cornerbacks Baushad Breeland and Ward came up with interceptions of Derek Carr on successive third-quarter drives to keep the Raiders at bay.
Through three games, the Chiefs are yielding about 395 yards per game, 10 fewer than last year’s average for the entire season. They’ve had leads of at least 17 points in the second half of all three of their games, confronting teams playing catch-up offense.
Reid wants his team to stay the course. He’s convinced turnovers will follow.
“You just have to play, you have to keep going with it,” Reid said. “Keep attacking or it doesn’t happen.”