Red Zone

Chiefs report card: Special teams lead the way in 19-14 win over Jaguars

Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos made four field goals against the Jaguars on Sunday, including a 51-yarder in the third quarter.
Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos made four field goals against the Jaguars on Sunday, including a 51-yarder in the third quarter. jsleezer@kcstar.com

The key plays, stats and grades from the Chiefs’ 19-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

The recap

Player of the game: Kicker Cairo Santos drilled four field goals and almost outscored the Jaguars by himself. If he missed even one of those field goals, it’s a completely different game — and perhaps, a loss. Santos also drilled three of his six kickoffs for touchbacks.

Reason to hope: The Chiefs won, albeit against a bad team, despite missing their starting quarterback, running back and No. 1 receiver and generally looking disjointed on offense. The defense came to play, creating four turnovers, while the offense did not turn the ball over.

Reason to mope: The Chiefs did not play well Sunday, period. Jacksonville is a bad team that has struggled this year, and it almost won a road game at Arrowhead Stadium despite losing the turnover battle 4-0. The Chiefs were down some key players, but they should have looked a little better.

Looking ahead: The Chiefs, 6-2, will travel to Charlotte, N.C., to face the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers, 3-5.

Report card

D

Rushing offense: The Chiefs only rushed 10 times for 33 yards in the first half, which simply wasn’t good enough against the league’s 27th-best run defense. It didn’t get better by the end of the game either, as they only mustered 62 yards in 22 carries, an average of 2.8 yards per carry. This grade would be an “F” if it wasn’t for the huge 14-yard run by Charcandrick West (13 carries, 39 yards) that iced the game late in the fourth quarter.

D

Passing offense: Quarterback Nick Foles was erratic early; he showcased his arm strength and willingness to throw the deep ball, but he consistently threw off his back foot under pressure and generally struggled with the strike zone. On one first-quarter play, he badly overshot his man on a deep ball in the first quarter that should have been intercepted but was dropped by a defender. Foles did, however, make a nice throw to Albert Wilson over the middle for a 23-yard touchdown — it just didn’t happen enough. Foles completed 20 of 33 passes for 187 yards. He was sacked twice.

D

Rushing defense: The Chiefs’ defense was gashed by the Jaguars’ ground game in the first half, when they rolled up 132 yards in 18 carries — an average of 7.3 yards per carry. That’s absurdly high, especially considering the Jaguars feature one of the league’s worst running games. Jacksonville finished with 205 yards in 32 carries, and quarterback Blake Bortles even chipped in 54 yards in six carries. This would be an “F” if it weren’t for the defense’s two forced fumbles, one of which accounted for a field goal while the other, in retrospect, prevented a game-saving touchdown. The run defense also stepped up late in the game when Dontari Poe stuffed a third-and-1 run to help force a turnover on downs. But this grade is still a “D” because you can’t allow a team averaging 73 yards per game to essentially triple that number.

B

Passing defense: Inside linebacker Ramik Wilson had a second-quarter interception that led to a field goal. , Steven Nelson was whistled for a drive-extending pass interference that led to a touchdown late in the first half, but Nelson found redemption with a fourth-down stop on the Jaguars’ final drive. The pass rush was fortified by outside linebacker Dee Ford, who racked up two sacks and three pressures as the Chiefs did enough to harass Bortles on a 22-for-41 day in which he threw for 252 yards — right around his average, which is impressive considering the Jaguars’ strong running game Sunday — along with two touchdowns.

A

Special teams: D.J. Alexander forced a fumble on a first-quarter punt return that led to a touchdown. Kicker Cairo Santos drilled a 26-yard field goal in the second quarter and a pair of field goals (51, 24) in the third quarter, while also adding a 36-yarder late. Tyreek Hill broke a 36-yard punt return that led to a field goal. Punter Dustin Colquitt dropped four of his seven punts inside the 20, with a long of 59. A big day for special-teams coach Dave Toub’s units.

D

Coaching: Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s defense yielded 449 yards to the Jaguars, nearly 120 more than their average. Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s offense could muster only 231 yards, roughly 120 fewer than the Jaguars typically allow. But the Chiefs did win, thanks to four Jacksonville turnovers, and for the most part, Reid’s in-game coaching decisions worked out. The Chiefs converted a gutsy fourth-and-1 near midfield on their first drive, and they also successfully challenged a T.J. Yeldon run after the catch. So a “C” would have been the grade if it weren’t for the penalties; the Chiefs had eight to the Jaguars’ five, and Jacksonville entered as the second-most penalized team in the NFL.

Terez A. Paylor: 816-234-4489, @TerezPaylor.

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