At some point, the bossesThe offense would become a concern if things didn’t change.
That point came Monday night, precisely when Márquez Valdés-Scantling let the potential 51-yard go-ahead touchdown pass through his hands on a perfect pass from Patrick Mahomes 1:50 left.
In a 21-17 loss to the Eagles, the Chiefs led 17–7 at halftime. The 10-point cushion came from an impressive 121 rushing yards, 14 more than the Eagles had allowed in any complete game this season.
But in the second half, as has been the case so many times in Kansas City, the offense withered. The Chiefs, who entered Monday scoring a league-worst 5.9 points per game in the second half, scored zero in the final 30 minutes, dropping that average to 5.3.
“We have to be better in the second half,” Mahomes said. “All season we haven’t played great football in the second half. We have to continue working. “We obviously had a pretty good first half handling the ball, but we have to find a way to finish games offensively.”
And for Kansas City, it wasn’t just a matter of the Eagles bleeding time. By contrast, the Chiefs had four consecutive possessions in the second half where they could have extended their lead to two or three scores. On those drives, Mahomes and company produced two first downs in three possessions, while the other ended in a red zone fumble by Travis Kelce.
“That’s football,” said cornerback Trent McDuffie, who had two sacks and a forced fumble. “It is a team sport. Unfortunately, if the offense is doing very well and the defense is not doing well, everything has to work cohesively. … We are always confident, we are always positive. “We always have the mentality that we can get the job done.”
Additionally, this is the third consecutive game in which the Chiefs have failed to score after halftime. They have just one fourth-quarter touchdown all season, in a Week 7 win over the Chargers.
Kelce’s lost fumble continued another maddening season-long trend for Kansas City. The Chiefs had two turnovers in the red zone on Monday and, in total, have turned the ball over 19 times. Only the Browns, Vikings, Raiders and Commanders are worse. Only in Week 5, a win over Minnesota, did Kansas City avoid at least one turnover.
After the game, Kelce spoke briefly for 40 seconds.
“I have to be better,” Kelce said. “I’m just not playing at the level I have in the past. I have to be better.”
Tenor Kelce and catcher Justin Watson did the same. Everything can be fixed. The problem? Kansas City isn’t fixing anything. The Chiefs lead the league in drops with 30, by professional football reference. No other team has more than 23.
“I don’t look at the scope of the statistics or anything like that,” Watson said. “For all of us as an offense, the only thing that matters is winning games. “That’s the only statistic we came up short on, so we’ll have to figure out how to handle it.”
Beyond the drops and turnovers, the Chiefs also committed crucial penalties. Against the Eagles, Kansas City was flagged for seven infractions, including three before the snap, a trend that becomes even more frustrating in a home game.
And then there’s the looming, never-ending question of perimeter personnel. The Chiefs have an All-Pro quarterback, perhaps the greatest tight end of all time and a talented running back behind an excellent offensive line.
However, it’s all going to waste because the Chiefs don’t have anything reliable at receiver. In the drizzle at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday, Kansas City receivers were targeted 25 times and caught 14 passes for 113 yards; in total, a pathetic 4.52 yards per attempt.
Without a secondary weapon, the Chiefs have become ineffective offensively. The season-long numbers suggest a unit above average, as Kansas City entered Monday ranked eighth in yards and 11th in points per game, but nothing is coming easy.
For years, the Chiefs were an offensive juggernaut with Mahomes at the helm. Now, it’s all seemingly become a chore, especially once coach Andy Reid’s script has been exhausted.
“We have a lot of hope for Pat Mahomes and Andy Reid,” defensive tackle Chris Jones said. “They have scored a lot of points and we never doubted them. … We always trust that if we give them the ball back, we will have a chance to score and I don’t think that will change after one game.”
Of course, Jones is being nice. This comedy of offensive errors has persisted for much more than one game.
Still, Kansas City is 7-3 and has perhaps the best defense in the league. The Chiefs have seven games left, including five against quarterbacks named Mac Jones, Jordan Love, Jake Browning and Aidan O’Connell (twice). The smart money says they will win approximately 13 games and have an excellent chance at home field advantage during the AFC playoffs.
But once the postseason rolls around, Browning, Jones, Love and O’Connell won’t be there. They will be Trevor Lawrence, Lamar Jackson, Tua Tagovailoa and potentially Josh Allen.
Even with Kansas City’s elite defense, the Chiefs will need to put up some points. They will have to expand the runways, not simply protect them. After 10 games, it seems like a monumental task for a team known for scoring with ease during the Mahomes era.
The good news? The defense is brilliant. Once again on Monday, the Chiefs stymied an elite offense, limiting the Eagles to 21 points and 4.4 yards per play while recording five sacks and one takeaway. AJ Brown was limited to one reception for eight yards, while the rest of the Philadelphia offense only mustered an additional 230 yards.
However, unlike previous years where the offense would have pulled away, the Chiefs are stuck in neutral, hitting the gas only to see the engine stall.
“We have to find ways to score,” Mahomes said. “At the end of the day, the defense is playing great football, it has been all year. Offensively we have to find ways to finish football games.”
Everything remains ahead of Kansas City, but at some point, the Chiefs must fix their endless parade of self-inflicted problems.
That point is now.