If their 30-7 loss to the Browns proved anything to the Chiefs on Sunday, it’s that they’re getting a great bargain paying about $9.5 million to Dwayne Bowe this year.
Their offense was operating quite nicely with Bowe in their lineup in the opening minutes. The Chiefs scored one touchdown and should have scored again on their next possession, failing only when the offense bogged down inside the Cleveland 5 and they missed a short field goal attempt.
The game unraveled for the Chiefs when Bowe left their lineup for good late in the first period with injured ribs. They had 149 yards and a touchdown at the point when he was done for the day.
They had 161 yards and zero points over the game’s final 49 minutes. His departure was clearly the moment the day destructed for the Chiefs.
The issues now are whether he will play next week against the Raiders in Oakland and how the Chiefs, whose offense struggles even with their best receiver in the lineup, can expect to score any points if he doesn’t.
“Dwayne Bowe is one heck of a player,’’ quarterback Brady Quinn said. “He’s a tremendous teammate. He’s a warrior out there and he will fight for you doing whatever he can.
“We’ve got to move forward. But he’s a guy you obviously want to have on your team.’’
Coach Romeo Crennel said he wasn’t yet certain about Bowe’s ability to play against the Raiders. But Bowe left for the locker room shortly after being injured and never returned, a likely sign his injury is more than a bruise.
“They haven’t told me (about Bowe’s availability for the Oakland game),’’ Crennel said. “I’ll wait until they finish evaluating and let me know.’’
Quinn showed the strain of trying to lead an offense minus its best receiver. He completed 86 percent of his passes in last week’s win over Carolina but was just 10 of 21 with five sacks and an interception against the Browns.
His only pass completion of over 25 yards was a 47-yarder to Bowe down the right sideline. Quinn was two of four for 70 yards with Bowe in the game, eight of 17 for 89 yards without him.
As a result, the Chiefs watched their 7-0 lead disappear. They came close to scoring just once after Bowe left but turned the ball over on downs at the Cleveland 16 in the fourth quarter.
“We let the score get away from us,’’ Quinn said. “When you’re basically a one-mode offense, it makes it hard. The defense can dictate things.’’
Crennel said he expected the Chiefs to continue to have problems moving the ball if Bowe can’t play.
“Probably so,’’ Crennel said. “He’s one of the better receivers that we have. If he’s not there, someone else will have to step up.’’
The Chiefs were without running back Jamaal Charles for a portion of the game. He also had an injured rib, though he was able to return to the game.
While Charles was out, the Chiefs were left with a group of offensive skill players that included Peyton Hillis, who is averaging a meager 3.2 yards per carry this season, Steve Maneri, a converted offensive lineman, Terrance Copper, mainly a special teams player, and Jamar Newsome, who spent most of the season on the practice squad.
In that light, it probably shouldn’t be a shock to the Chiefs that their offense went AWOL without Bowe. The Chiefs converted just once in 11 tries on third down and that success was, predictably, a 23-yard pass from Quinn to Bowe.
But Quinn said the Chiefs had enough talent still on the field to be productive.
“Regardless of the circumstances, as a competitor, I always feel we have enough,’’ he said. “We’ve just got to do a better job of competing up front. We can’t continue to have penalties, keep pushing ourselves back. This team right now needs to continue to play consistent, error-free football in order to give ourselves a shot.’’