Report card: With so many injuries, should Chiefs be graded on a curve? No

The Chiefs lost their first game this season, dropping a 19-13 decision to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football.

Kansas City entered the game as a 10 1/2-point favorite but couldn’t generate enough offense. A big stat for the Colts: They held the ball for 37 minutes, 15 seconds. The Chiefs couldn’t muster much of anything in the second half and were held to a field goal over the final two quarters.

The loss marked a low in points scored for a Chiefs team with Patrick Mahomes as its quarterback. In all other 23 games in which Mahomes has played, including the playoffs, the Chiefs had previously scored at least 26 points.

KC Star of the Game

This is recognition of a Chiefs player, or Justin Houston might be the call here. Safety Tyrann Mathieu came up with his biggest play in a Chiefs uniform with a second-quarter interception that ended a scoring drive. He also chipped in a tackle for loss for 8 yards that forced the Colts to settle for a field goal. It wasn’t a great day for any member of the Chiefs, but Mathieu had a couple of nice moments.

Reason to hope: It’s early. Nearly every team this side of the Patriots has had a clunker, and the Chiefs have to hope this was theirs. It could have happened in Detroit last week, but the Chiefs escaped that one. Not so this time. Oh, and wide receiver Byron Pringle scored his first NFL touchdown.

Reason to mope: Let’s count the ways. Penalties piled up. The offensive line played poorly. But, my, the injuries. Things started optimistically for the Chiefs when two players listed as questionable, wide receiver Sammy Watkins and running back Damien Williams, suited up to play.

But Watkins didn’t last the first series with his hamstring still bothering him, and the procession of injured Chiefs players had begun. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens (groin), defensive tackle Xavier Williams (ankle) and defensive end Chris Jones (groin) left the game and didn’t return.

But if we’re to accept the “next man up mantra,” there is no grading on a curve. The Chiefs absolutely missed their injured players. But Andy Reid will tell you that’s no excuse. And he’s correct.

Next: The Chiefs remain home and meet the Houston Texans in a noon kickoff next weekend. The Chiefs lead that all-time series 6-4, including a victory in the 2015 playoffs. Sunday’s game will mark the third in the series played at Arrowhead Stadium.

Report card

Passing offense: C

It’s all the Chiefs had on offense and it wasn’t enough. Mahomes surpassed 300 yards for the fifth straight game, and his escape of a sack for the touchdown pass to Pringle will be one of his highlight plays this season. But the percentage wasn’t there (22 for 39, 56.4 percent), and the Chiefs didn’t get it done in the red zone.

Mahomes said the Chiefs were having issues with man defenses, citing the Patriots in last year’s AFC Championship Game and the Lions last week. Tackle Mitch Schwartz said the line didn’t do its job on Sunday: “We really didn’t block well,” he said.

Passing defense: C

Mathieu’s interception was a highlight play, but cornerback Bashaud Breeland had a bad night, with three penalties in the first half, including a pass interference call that resulted in a 53-yard flag. He finished with four for the night.

Rushing offense: F

It hardly existed. Mahomes attempted 28 passes in the first half and the Chiefs didn’t have the ball long enough in the second half to establish much of anything. When they did run, they went nowhere. The Chiefs finished with 36 yards on 14 attempts. The offensive line couldn’t get a push on a fourth-and-1 late in the game that would have kept a drive alive.

Rushing defense: F

The problem persists. The Chiefs simply can’t stop the run. Young Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett didn’t need to beat the Chiefs with his arm. Marlon Mack and the Colts’ offensive line took care of that. The Colts controlled the clock in the second half and put the game away with their running game. Mack finished with 132 yards. This marked the third straight game the Chiefs allowed a 100-yard rusher. “We’ve got to stop the run, man,” defensive end Emmanual Ogbah told The Star’s Herbie Teope.

Special teams: C

Not much to report here. Harrison Butker made good on his only field goal attempt. The kick coverages were good. De’Anthony Thomas probably shouldn’t have fielded a punt on the 5 in the third quarter. The big moment came with 1:16 remaining, when the Chiefs lined up for an onside kick. The Chiefs didn’t get the bounce and the Colts’ victory was sealed.

Coaching: D

There was a questionable call on fourth and 1 from the Chiefs’ 34 with five minutes remaining. A deep handoff to Damien Williams was blown up by Justin Houston ... and the Chiefs, trailing by 6, lost their final best hope to keep the drive alive.

“Justin made a nice play,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “He came off the back side and made a play. We need to do a better job blocking that and working through it. You give him credit. He made a nice play.”

Related stories from Kansas City Star