The key plays, stats and grades from the KC Chiefs’ 38-31 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Player of the game: Jets quarterback Josh McCown was rock-solid, completing 26 of 36 passes for 331 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed seven times for 19 yards and two scores while leading the Jets to the eventual game-winning score
Reason to hope: The offense finally got it together after weeks of misery, and quarterback Alex Smith was terrific, likely staving off further calls for Patrick Mahomes to start for at least another week.
Reason to mope: These guys just can’t get on the same page. One week, it’s the offense. The next week, it’s the defense. Sunday, it was the latter’s complete inability to contain the league’s 23rd-ranked offense that led to the Chiefs’ sixth loss in seven games. Brutal.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs, 6-6, will return home to Arrowhead Stadium next weekend, where they will face the Oakland Raiders at noon on Sunday. The Raiders entered their game against the New York Giants on Sunday with a 5-6 record. They’ve gone 2-7 in their last nine games against Chiefs coach Andy Reid since 2013.
Rushing offense: Entering the game, the Jets’ run defense ranked 26th in the NFL, allowing 120.4 yards per contest. The Chiefs finished with 112 yards on 11 carries, an average of 10.2 yards per carry. But don’t be fooled by the okie-doke, as 70 of those yards came via a terrific scramble by Smith. Running back Kareem Hunt was largely held in check, rushing nine times for 40 yards, an average of 4.4 yards per carry. Until Hunt can get back on track, this offense will remain one-dimensional. The Chiefs also won’t earn a better grade in this category until that happens.
Passing offense: Entering the game, the Jets’ pass defense ranked 15th in the NFL, allowing 222.2 yards per contest. Smith completed 19 of 33 passes for 366 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions and a passer rating of 135.9. He was also sacked twice times and hit six times against a pass rush that ranked 23rd in the league with 22 sacks entering the contest. Receiver Tyreek Hill led the Chiefs in receiving with 185 yards and two touchdowns on six catches on nine targets, while tight end Travis Kelce caught four of eight thrown his way for 94 yards and two touchdowns. These guys played well enough to win and would earn an “A” here if it wasn’t for my “no A’s in losses” rule, which is in place because when you lose, everyone could have done a little more to change the outcome. The offense, for instance, could’ve come through and tied the game late in the fourth quarter. It did not.
Rushing defense: Entering the game, the Jets’ run offense ranked 20th in the NFL with an average of 102.3 yards per contest. The Jets rushed 49 times for 157 yards and three touchdowns, with two coming via McCown. Their per-carry average of 3.2 yards was hardly spectacular, however, as Matt Forte (15 carries, 58 yards) and Bilal Powell (18 carries, 48 yards) were held in check most of the day. This should have been good enough for the Chiefs to win.
Passing defense: Entering the game, the Jets’ pass offense ranked 18th in the NFL with an average of 212.3 yards per contest. McCown crushed his average by throwing for 331 yards and posting a passer rating of 109.8. The Chiefs hit him five times but failed to sack him. The Jets’ average receiving corps also did major damage, as Jermaine Kearse caught nine of 10 passes for 157 yards and Robby Anderson caught eight of 12 passes for 107. The Chiefs’ inability to get off the field on third down (13 of 20) –– largely due to the pass –– was a joke.
Special teams: Kicker Harrison Butker made 36-yard field goal, but he also missed a 38-yarder in the first half, snapping his streak of 23 in a row. Hill had a nice 24-yard punt return, but the Chiefs averaged just 20.2 yards on five kick returns, routinely giving them worse field position than they would have if they simply took the touchbacks. The Jets didn’t do any damage with their return squads, but the personal foul penalty on Bennie Logan late in the fourth quarter for hitting a defenseless player — which negated a short field goal — gave the Jets new life on a drive that ended with a touchdown. That put the Chiefs in a seven-point hole late, as opposed to a more-managable three-point margin. Whether or not that call was bad — Logan insists he did the same thing earlier in the game and no flag was thrown — it happened, and it was costly.
Coaching: After the Chiefs’ loss to Buffalo last week, Reid said he’d analyze all facets of the team, starting with himself. He heeded those words by giving promising offensive coordinator Matt Nagy more play-calling responsibility this week, and things went well. Give Reid credit for that — the offense was not the problem for a change. But the defense was unacceptable, and that falls squarely on coordinator Bob Sutton. The Jets’ 23rd-ranked offense ran roughshod on the Chiefs all day, racking up 488 total yards despite averaging 314.5 entering the contest. The Jets’ offense isn’t the league’s most talented, to be sure, and the KC defense’s performance on Sunday was embarrassing. The only reason this isn’t an “F” is because Reid leaves the defense to Sutton, so I don’t really view this as a reflection on him as much as I do when the offense — Reid’s specialty — fails in similar fashion. While offense played well enough to win, the defense and special teams did not.