This Kansas City Chiefs report card would’ve looked better had late TD stood vs. Bills

But for a few inches, the Chiefs would have pulled off one of the greatest plays in franchise history — one that could have led to a victory over the Buffalo Bills.

Instead, the Chiefs fell 20-17 on Sunday at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

The play: A deep pass over the middle to Travis Kelce, who eluded a couple of tacklers, then threw an overhand lateral to Kadarius Toney, who raced into the end zone with about 90 seconds remaining,

But Toney was flagged for lining up offside, and replays showed the infraction was by mere inches. The Chiefs couldn’t pick up a first down and lost their second straight game to fall to 8-5.

Here’s our assessment of the Chiefs’ fourth loss in their last six:

KC STAR OF THE GAME:

Kansas City cornerback Trent McDuffie collected a sack and deflected a pass. The Chiefs’ defense played poorly last week in the loss to the Green Bay Packers. It was solid Sunday, especially in the second half, holding the Bills to two field goals.

Next: The Chiefs hit the road to take on the New England Patriots next Sunday at noon (Central). The game originally was scheduled for Monday Night Football but was flexed to Sunday. Fox (Channel 4 in Kansas City) will broadcast the game.

REPORT CARD

Passing offense: D

On the Chiefs’ first drive of the second half, Patrick Mahomes was 5 for 5, capping it with a 4-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to Rashee Rice. It took that long for the offense, and passing game to look like its old self.

Oof, that first=possession interception. Great play by Bills defensive end A.J. Epenesa to tip it to himself. But it’s a pass Mahomes shouldn’t have thrown. The Chiefs had a nice possession going before the blunder. The defense bailed out Mahomes and forced a punt.

Same can be said about Rice’s fumble after his reception late in the third quarter. The Chiefs had closed to 17-14, the offense seemed to have found a rhythm. Again, the defense came up big to force a punt.

Drops impacted the Chiefs again with Richie James not coming up with a ball over the middle and Kadarius Toney muffing an easy catch.

Miscommunication also was a problem. A Mahomes incomplete pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling fell a couple feet away.

Rushing offense: C

Establishing a running game was an early priority and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, in place of injured Isiah Pacheco, had some nice carries early. But as the Bills’ build their first-half lead, the Chiefs largely left the running game behind...until Jerick McKinnon’s 7-yard touchdown to get the Chiefs on the board. McKinnon delayed to find the opening, then got a push from the line into the end zone.

Edwards-Helaire finished with 39 yards, and the Chiefs had 82.

The third running back? Turned out to be Toney, who got a couple of carries.

Passing defense: B

Charmarri Conner made the biggest play of his rookie season, collecting his first interception after the Chiefs got pressure on Josh Allen. The Chiefs turned the takeaway, their first in three games, into a touchdown. It was Allen’s first interception in three regular season games at Arrowhead.

James Cook flashing opened down the middle for the Bills’ first touchdown had to send shivers through Chiefs fans remembering the Gabe Davis’ four-touchdown playoff game two years ago. Davis scored on similar plays..

Rushing defense: B

Cook was a handful most of the day, as a receiver and running back, finishing with 141 total yards, including 58 on the ground. Allen was his usual handful, and scored on a 6-yard run. He finished with 32 rushing yards.

Special teams: A

A good game for Richie James, whose 25-yard punt return set up the Harrison Butker 127-yard field goal that made it 17-17. (Chiefs needed a touchdown there).

James could have returned kickoffs, but the Chiefs decided to signal for a fair catch to kicks that landed around the 5. James had a heads up play on punt return when he collected the ball after a Bills player had tossed it forward.

Butker improved his accuracy this season to 54 for 54 on field goals and extra points. It’s the second longest streak of kicking perfection in the NFL since 2015.