Key play: The Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles broke a tackle and bolted 63 yards for a touchdown.
Key stat: Chiefs QB Alex Smith completed seven of seven passes for 50 yards.
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Key plays: Smith converted on third and 14 with a 21-yard scramble, then hit Dwayne Bowe for 22 yards on third and 20 during the touchdown drive.
Key stat: Charles scored multiple touchdowns in a game for the fourth time this season and 12th in his career.
Key play: A borderline penalty against Chiefs tight end Anthony Fasano nullified his touchdown catch and preceded an interception by the Cardinals that set up a touchdown and two-point conversion. It was a 15-point swing.
Key stat: Arizona’s touchdown was its first in 35 offensive possessions.
Key play: Tight end Travis Kelce fumbled at the end of a 19-yard pass to the Arizona 22. Though the play was ruled down by contact, Arizona challenged, the call was overturned, and the Cardinals were awarded possession.
Key stat: The Chiefs were minus-2 on turnovers for the second straight week.
Player of the game: Arizona linebacker Alex Okafor had a sack and an interception that set up the Cardinals’ only touchdown.
Reason to hope: The Chiefs’ last three games are all in the AFC and a sweep — which would include wins over Pittsburgh and San Diego — could still get them in the playoffs.
Reason to mope: Having lost three straight and scoring just 14 points, their fewest since the season-opening loss to Tennessee, doesn’t inspire much confidence that the Chiefs will turn things around.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs return to Arrowhead Stadium at noon Sunday and will try to avenge their loss to the Oakland Raiders, who improved to 2-11 with their win over San Francisco.
Jamaal Charles broke a 63-yard run, the longest offensive play of the season, and Alex Smith scrambled once for 21 yards. Other than that, the Chiefs rushed 15 times for 42 yards.
Smith was near-perfect in the first half, but under duress in the second half he could not engineer any points. Smith, who was sacked five times a week after he was sacked six times, hit Jason Avant for a season-long 41-yard completion. Smith also hit tight end Travis Kelce twice for 48 yards on an ill-fated fourth-quarter drive, but his interception set up Arizona’s game-winning touchdown.
The Chiefs gave up 100 yards rushing — and a 5.3-yard average — to Kerwynn Williams, who was elevated from the practice squad this week for a team that ranked No. 31 in the NFL in rushing. That’s after Denver third-teamer C.J. Anderson gashed them for 168 yards, and unknown Latavius Murray of the Raiders rolled up 112. Something’s wrong here.
Arizona’s Drew Stanton wasn’t on target much (15 of 30) but he threw for 239 yards — 60 more than Peyton Manning a week ago. Justin Houston managed two sacks, but when the Chiefs needed to force another field goal or get a stop, Stanton threaded a 26-yard touchdown strike to Jaron Brown, who beat safety Ron Parker on third and 18.
The Chiefs’ kick returners, Knile Davis on kickoff returns or De’Anthony Thomas on punt returns, appear determined to return kicks no matter how deep they are in the end zone or how close the coverage is on punt returns. Neither made an egregious decision, but neither made a big play either.
The Chiefs got some tough calls from the officials, but coach Andy Reid didn’t have many answers for Arizona’s high-pressure and aggressive defense. Reid’s decision to go for it on fourth and 4 at the Arizona 39 gave the Cardinals a short field, but at the time, it was worth the risk.
To reach Randy Covitz, call 816-234-4796 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @randycovitz.