Everything is working for the Chiefs. They’re scoring, stopping scoring, winning the field position battle, you name it and the Chiefs are making it work in a three-game winning streak.
They’ve also excelled at not making mistakes.
In a matter of a few weeks, the Chiefs, 4-5, have gone from a giveaway team to a takeaway team, and they travel to San Diego on Sunday tied for second in the NFL in turnover ratio at plus-eight.
That matches the undefeated Carolina Panthers and trails only the New York Giants at plus-12.
Everybody is contributing on both sides.
On defense, the Chiefs have been at their ball-hawking best lately, coming up with nine interceptions in the last three games by seven different players. There were five picks by five players in last weekend’s 29-13 victory over the Broncos.
The offensive side has contributed with no turnovers during the winning streak.
The Chiefs’ last giveaway was Charcandrick West’s fumble that was knocked out in a collision with offensive lineman Donald Stephenson at Minnesota.
The last interception? All the way back in the third quarter of the third game, at Green Bay.
Since then, quarterback Alex Smith has thrown 228 passes without a pick. Next on the list is Tom Brady, at 176 attempts.
Smith is five away from the team record set by Steve DeBerg in 1990, a topic that coach Andy Reid would rather have stiff-armed for reasons of superstition.
“I don’t,” Reid said when asked to address the record.
But he did.
“Listen, he’s great at that,” Reid said. “That’s one of his real strengths. But again, it’s play by play. You’ve just got to stay on top of it. He’s done it throughout his career, take care of the football.”
When the Chiefs are losing, as they were earlier in a 1-5 start, taking care of the football meant a conservative approach that didn’t produce enough scoring opportunities. The Chiefs brought in wide receiver Jeremy Maclin to help open the offense, and if that was happening, it wasn’t enough.
There was the earlier game against the Broncos, the Arrowhead Stadium opener when Smith’s two interceptions proved costly and were among the Chiefs’ five turnovers of the game.
Now that the Chiefs are winning, the offensive approach hasn’t changed as much as everything around it. The offensive line is playing the best it has all season. Same with the defense. And although the Chiefs kicked five field goals against the Broncos, it meant they were constantly kicking off and preventing good field position.
All the while, the offense isn’t making mistakes or giving other teams good field position and scoring opportunities.
“Alex protects the football really well,” Chiefs reserve quarterback Chase Daniel said. “He knows that’s how you win games.
“When the defense is getting three, four turnovers, like it is in this stretch, your No. 1 priority is to not turn it over. You’re going to get points.”
Daniel marveled at how Sunday’s game unfolded. The Chiefs turned Marcus Peters’ third-play interception into a first-possession touchdown, then added four Cairo Santos field goals to take a 19-0 halftime lead.
“Granted you want more touchdowns than field goals, but if you’re on the road and taking a 19-0 lead going into halftime, you’re playing pretty good football,” Daniel said.
Smith believes there’s more for the offense to deliver.
“Certainly there have been glimpses of things,” Smith said. “I still feel like we’ve left a lot out there, a lot of room for improvement.”
Except when it comes to giveaways. The Chiefs have been perfect in that department for three games.
Chiefs turnovers by game
at Houston W
at Green Bay L
at Cincinnati L
at Minnesota L
at Denver W