An A-Z rewind of the Chiefs’ 29-16 loss to Denver on Sunday and a fast-forward look ahead:
A is for Arrowhead Stadium, supposedly a home-field advantage … but where the Chiefs have the exact same record in two seasons under Andy Reid (9-5) as they do on the road under Reid.
B is for Berry, Eric, the Chiefs’ safety who is out for the season after the discovery last week of a mass in his chest suspected to be lymphoma. Test results are expected to be revealed in the next few days.
C is for conversions on third downs, a crucial factor in the Chiefs’ offensive struggles the last two games: After going one of nine on Sunday, they’ve made good on just three of their last 23.
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D is for division of labor, the AFC West, for Reid, who is 3-7 in the division the last two seasons but 15-3 otherwise.
E is for effort, which inexplicably was inadequate on Sunday. “We didn’t play hard enough,” running back Jamaal Charles said … and who are we to disagree?
F is for flat first half, suddenly a pattern for the Chiefs: They trailed the Broncos 20-7 at the intermission and have been outscored 34-10 before halftime over the last two games against the Broncos and Raiders.
G is for ground game, in which the Chiefs were stomped and stumped: Led by C.J. Anderson’s 168 rushing yards, the Broncos went for 214 by land. The Chiefs amassed … 41. All game.
H is for hard to explain: the Chiefs still have given up only two rushing touchdowns all season, but their issues containing the run have been exploited the last two games. Entering Sunday’s games, no team in the NFL was giving up as many yards a carry (5.0) as the Chiefs. As for what’s to come? “If it was an easy fix, we would have fixed it right here,” said Reid, later adding, “I know we have to do a better job tackling. I do know that.”
I is for interception thrown by Alex Smith, the first in 179 attempts by the Chiefs’ quarterback.
J is for Jamaal Charles, who had just 35 yards on 10 carries but led the Chiefs (such as it was) with four receptions for 24 yards and a touchdown.
K is for Knile Davis, Charles’ backup who ran for 318 yards in a three-game stretch in September. For the first time this season, Davis had zero carries from scrimmage even as he returned three kickoffs for 89 yards.
L is for line of scrimmage, starting position: Reflecting turnovers and special teams play that tilted the game, the Broncos took over in Chiefs’ territory five times; the Chiefs started on Denver turf just once.
M is for motivated: On a night it was hard to point to much inspired play by Kansas City, linebacker Justin Houston was an exception with eight tackles, including three for a loss, a sack, a forced fumble and two pass breakups.
N is for nemesis, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, who is 13-1 against the Chiefs.
O is for offensive offense of the Chiefs, which had 66 yards through three quarters and just 151 for the game. Smith was sacked six times, nearly 20 percent of the times he set out to throw (29), and the Chiefs averaged 2.7 yards a carry.
P is for punt plays by Denver, which stung the Chiefs with a fake and a ball that caromed off Kansas City’s Marcus Cooper for a turnover.
Q is for question mark: Two weeks ago, the Chiefs were surging and tied with Denver atop the AFC West, and the mystery was how they’d lost the opener to Tennessee (now 2-10). Now the mystery is … what is the real identity of this team, anyway?
R is for reverse, the direction the Chiefs were going through their first three drives, good for minus 10 yards, and are moving overall until further notice.
S is for stop us if you’ve heard this one: The Chiefs still have not thrown a touchdown pass to a wide receiver this season.
T is for touchdowns by tight end Anthony Fasano, four this season after his 20-yard TD reception in the second quarter.
U is for up next, the Arizona Cardinals, who are 9-3 and have lost two in a row themselves after falling 29-18 to Atlanta on Sunday.
V is for vindication, weekly, for Chiefs’ rookie kicker Cairo Santos, who made his 14th straight field goal and now is 16 for 18 this season despite his initial struggles.
W is for wild-card sweepstakes, to which the Chiefs (7-5) now are relegated.
X is for X-factor: Do the Chiefs have some sort of psychological block against the Broncos? Or do the Broncos have some voodoo going against the Chiefs? Denver has won the last six in the series.
Y is for yards at halftime: Denver 238, Kansas City 59.
Z is for zenith: Did the Chiefs hit theirs when they beat defending Super Bowl champion Seattle two weeks ago to win for the seventh time in eight games?