The Chiefs squandered a defensive gem in Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Kansas City’s defense shut down Colts running back Jonathan Taylor, limited the All-Pro to 71 yards rushing on 21 attempts, an average of 3.4 yards per carry.
The Chiefs also recorded five sacks and 10 quarterback hits on Colts signal-caller Matt Ryan, holding the Colts to just 259 yards of total offense.
But a sluggish offense, special teams miscues and defensive tackle Chris Jones’ untimely unsportsmanlike conduct penalty doomed the Chiefs, who suffered their first loss of the young season.
“We had too many mistakes and didn’t give ourselves the opportunity that we needed to win, and I always start with myself,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Monday. “I mean, I could’ve definitely put the guys in a better position than I did, and I think after talking to our players, you got the same feeling from them.
“They took responsibility where (it was) needed and that’s kind of where we’re at. I think it’s important that that part took place.”
There’s something about the Colts. Since Reid arrived as Kansas City’s head coach in 2013, the Chiefs are 2-4, including the postseason, against Indianapolis.
Here’s a look at the Chiefs’ snap counts from Sunday afternoon:
QUARTERBACKS: Patrick Mahomes (63), Chad Henne (did not play)
Mahomes connected on 20 of 35 passes for 262 yards and a touchdown with an interception. The signal-caller completed a pass to tight end Travis Kelce for a 2-point conversion in the game. He also led the team in rushing with 26 yards on four carries.
Mahomes, though, didn’t have his best game and the Chiefs’ offense sputtered to start the game with two straight three-and-out possessions. His 78.5 passer rating is the lowest through three games after he posted a 144.2 in Week 1 and 106.2 in Week 2.
The Chiefs converted three of 10 third-down conversion attempts (30%), and totaled 315 yards after entering the game averaging 403.5 yards per game.
RUNNING BACKS: Jerick McKinnon (33, 5 on special teams), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (25), Isiah Pacheco (5, 9 on ST), fullback Michael Burton (5, 12 on ST)
It’s never a good sign for the Chiefs’ backfield when Mahomes is leading the team in rushing.
Edwards-Helaire had five catches for 39 yards, but he finished the game with 0 yards rushing on seven carries. The third-year back scored a rushing touchdown.
McKinnon, who led the running backs in snap counts for third straight game, contributed 20 yards rushing on seven carries. Pacheco had 9 yards on three carries.
Burton converted a fourth-and-short situation with a 2-yard run, his only carry of the game.
As a team, the Chiefs totaled 59 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, averaging 2.5 yards per carry.
“I can help out with the different calls,” Reid explained Monday on the running woes in Week 3. “We have a variety of runs, so I can definitely help out with that.
“We can do a better job with our front guys. They take great pride and responsibility for that run game — we can do a better job there. And the running backs do the same.”
Sunday’s loss represented the lowest output on the ground for the Chiefs through three games. In the previous two games, the Chiefs totaled 221 yards rushing on 45 carries.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Marquez Valdes-Scantling (49), JuJu Smith-Schuster (44), Mecole Hardman (43), Justin Watson (10, 6 on ST), Skyy Moore (8, 3 on ST)
Smith-Schuster led the team in receiving with five catches for 89 yards on eight targets, while Valdes-Scantling chipped in with four catches for 48 yards on seven targets.
Hardman’s output is a head-scratcher. While he briefly left the field to receive medical attention, Hardman was targeted just once (for a 2-yard gain) in 43 snaps. Through three games — and in a contract year — Hardman has just seven catches for 67 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets.
Watson was targeted once but couldn’t secure the catch.
Moore’s offensive snaps increased from Week 2’s two snaps to eight, but he didn’t record a target despite the Chiefs’ plans to get him involved with specific plays.
“We actually had some in for him this game and it didn’t work out that way,” Reid revealed Monday. “We didn’t have a ton of first- and second-down calls, and that we got to do better with. And so, his number didn’t get dialed up as much as we wanted.”
The rookie had a day to forget as a punt returner on special teams, muffing a punt to set up the Colts’ first touchdown of the game. Moore also allowed the ball to bounce in front of him on his second punt return attempt, and the Colts downed it inside the Chiefs’ 1-yard line. He made good on his third return, taking the punt for a 12-yard gain.
TIGHT ENDS: Travis Kelce (56), Noah Gray (26, 10 on ST), Jody Fortson (8, 12 on ST)
Kelce had four catches for 58 yards and a touchdown on eight targets.
The three-time All-Pro now owns 59 career receiving touchdowns, which ranks as the second-most in franchise in team history. Kelce also extended a personal streak of games with a catch to 129 straight games, which represents the second-longest active streak in the NFL.
Gray had one catch for 26 yards on two targets. He was the intended target on a failed fake field-goal attempt as the pass from punter Tommy Townsend sailed high over Gray’s head.
Fortson didn’t record a target.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Joe Thuney (63), Creed Humphrey (63, 4 on ST), Orlando Brown Jr. (63, 4 on ST), Trey Smith (63, 4 on ST), Andrew Wylie (61, 4 on ST), Nick Allegretti (2, 4 on ST), Prince Tega Wanogho (2, 4 on ST), Geron Christian (4 on ST)
The running game struggled and Mahomes was harassed throughout the game, as the Colts recorded a sack and five quarterback hits.
Brown had back-to-back bad plays against the Colts defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who applied pressure on Mahomes and recorded a sack on one of the two plays.
Wylie left the game for two plays after getting poked in the eye before returning to finish the game. Tega Wanogho filled in at right tackle during Wylie’s brief absence.
DEFENSIVE LINE: George Karlaftis (57, 4 on ST), Chris Jones (57), Frank Clark (51), Tershawn Wharton (38, 4 on ST), Carlos Dunlap (31), Derrick Nnadi (27, 4 on ST), Khalen Saunders (21, 1 on offense), Malik Herring (4, 4 on ST)
The front four produced a quality game, accounting for two of the Chiefs’ five sacks on Colts quarterback Matt Ryan and five of the 10 quarterback hits.
Clark recorded a sack, while Dunlap produced a strip-sack. Jones also had a quarterback hit, but his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the fourth quarter kept a Colts’ drive alive, which ultimately produced the game-winning touchdown.
Karlaftis produced four tackles, while Saunders produced two quarterback hits. Saunders also saw action on offense, lining up as a fullback in the Chiefs’ short-yardage group near the goal line.
Herring was active for the first time this season and made the most of his four defensive snaps with two assists.
LINEBACKERS: Nick Bolton (71, 4 on ST), Darius Harris (62), Leo Chenal (11, 6), Elijah Lee (19 on ST), Jack Cochrane (19 on ST)
Bolton was a beast against the Colts, recording his first career sacks. He finished the game with nine tackles, two sacks and two quarterback hits.
Harris filled in for Willie Gay Jr., who is serving a four-game suspension, and totaled a team-high 13 tackles. Harris and Bolton combined to stop Colts running back Jonathan Taylor’s leaping attempt to covert a fourth-and-1 situation early in the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs spent a lot of time in a nickel package, meaning Chenal, the strongside linebacker, only saw action when the team was in a 4-3 base.
Lee recorded an assist on special teams.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: L’Jarius Sneed (71, 3 on ST), Justin Reid (71), Juan Thornhill (71), Rashad Fenton (70), Jaylen Watson (59, 5 on ST), Bryan Cook (9, 15 on ST), Deon Bush (19 on ST), Chris Lammons (19 on ST), Joshua Williams (11 on ST), Dicaprio Bootle (6 on ST)
Sneed was a disruptive force against the Colts, recording seven tackles, a strip-sack, a quarterback hit and a fumble recovery.
Watson (6) and Fenton (5) combined to total 11 tackles, and Watson had a pass defensed.
The safety group was very active Sunday. Reid had seven tackles and two quarterback hits, and Thornhill notched five tackles, including a tackle for a loss.
Bootle was elevated from practice squad for a second straight game, and he recorded a tackle on special teams.
SPECIALISTS: Matt Ammendola (8), James Winchester (7), Tommy Townsend (7)
Amendola was called up from the practice squad to fill in for Harrison Butker (left ankle sprain) for a second straight game. But the emergency kicker’s performance cost him a roster spot after he missed an extra point and a 34-yard field goal attempt. The Chiefs are hopeful that Butker can return in Week 4.
Townsend totaled three punts for 170 yards, averaging 53.3 yards per attempt. Two of his punts landed inside the Colts’ 20-yard line.