Column: Chiefs Shoot Themselves in Loss

From the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

It was an hour or after the Chiefs had fallen in overtime when they were getting on their buses and getting ready to head to the nearby Oakland Airport. Raiders fans were still celebrating their team’s 23-20 victory in the only way Raiders fans would – they were having more beers and a few other things in the parking lots.

Soaring over the scene were a flock of sea gulls that almost looked like buzzards, as they dipped and dived and circled that day’s carcass, waiting for a chance to strike.

Losing on Sunday to the Raiders does not leave the Chiefs dead. Far from it – they are still the No. 1 team in the AFC West at 5-3. But as they got on their charter flight and headed home into the sky with those same circling gulls the Chiefs were definitely wounded.

And those wounds were self-inflicted. That’s what will hurt the most when they break down this film on Monday – they did it to themselves. They did things in this game that they’ve haven’t done all year.

If you want to know why the Chiefs lost for the first time in eight years in Oakland the answer is pretty simple – they squandered a potential 17 points in the first half. They still led the game 10-0 when the teams went to the locker rooms.

But it should have been 27-0 or at the least 23-0 and the game should have for all intent been over.

“Any time you are on the road and you have a chance to push a dagger in and get up enough scores to give you some breathing room,” said head coach Todd Haley. “You need to do it because generally when you don’t it comes back to haunt you.”

The Chiefs will feel very haunted as they recollect what went down in Oakland. They did things that make it nearly impossible to win a game, unless you should be playing a team that’s having the same kind of problems.

That was the case on Sunday. The Raiders were the Raiders. Under Tom Cable they are improved, but they still tend towards the most ridiculous penalties seen from week to week in the league. How about consecutive plays where defensive linemen lined up in the neutral zone; that’s 10 yards in penalties and a first down for the Chiefs.

But in this game, the Chiefs were definitely not of the same personality that we’ve seen from this team over the first seven games. Whether they were pulled into the gutter of mistakes by the Raiders is hard to quantify. But they did the things that aren’t going to allow an average team to win:

They had a dozen penalties. That’s more flags than in any other game in the Todd Haley Era as head coach. In the first seven games, they averaged five penalties a game. They doubled that with six on offense, five on special teams and one on defense. Before Sunday, they had 13 offensive penalties in seven games.

After playing three games without turning over the ball, they had two turnovers in this game. One cost them a potential touchdown or field goal. The other sent all momentum to the Raiders.

The offense had six negative plays in the game with three sacks and three runs for negative yardage. Throw in at least two dropped passes and the offensive penalties and that’s 14 negative offensive plays.

“You can’t have minus plays and expect to win in this league,” said Haley. “You can’t turn the ball over in the red zone and expect to win. You are not going to do it. It will come back to get you. We had multiple, multiple penalties that put us into positions that are difficult to overcome. ”

There’s only one reason that they were still able to push the game into overtime, and that was the similar problems the Raiders were dealing with. Oakland had 15 penalties, three turnovers, four sacks and one negative rushing play. That’s 23 negative plays.

And they still won. That’s where Cable must get the credit for turning the Raiders around. They can still look like the old Raiders at times, but they did not give up on this Sunday. They didn’t have their best defensive player in CB Nnamdi Asomugha and their best receiver on offense, TE Zach Miller. They didn’t put up the yards or points that they did in the previous two weeks, with just 321 yards and only one offensive touchdown.

The Chiefs didn’t give up either. They led 10-0, then trailed 14-13, led 20-17 and ended up losing 23-20.

That was in character for them, and it might have been the only thing they did that looked like the Chiefs of the first seven games.

8 Responses to “Column: Chiefs Shoot Themselves in Loss”

  • November 7, 2010  - Todd says:

    Is this the game I’ve heard discussed that we wondered would happen? The one that humbles the team and refocusses them for a play off run?

    I sure hope so.

  • November 8, 2010  - Raiders Are Winners In Overtime, 23-20 | Chiefs Football at says:

    [...] COLUMN: Out of character Chiefs out of luck. [...]

  • November 8, 2010  - Andrew says:

    Yeah, penalties, sacks, and turnovers all suck. But what hurts the most and really ticks me off is our inability to convert on third down. We were 3-15, and that will never get it done in this league. There were even a few times when we couldn’t convert on 2nd-1 and then 3rd-1. It’s a problem that truly stinks, and if we are content with just making the playoffs, fine. But if we want to actually make some noise and win our first playoff game since ’93, we had better focus hard on this. We didn’t deserve to win this game.

  • November 8, 2010  - bhive01 says:

    Have our 3rd down percentages really been that good all year? Seems like we pretty much stink in that area, which appears to stem from our inconsistent air attack.

  • November 8, 2010  - el cid says:

    The only way for the Chiefs to go to the playoff will be to buy a ticket. This team is not that good. The schedule was in our favor. But the team can only run the ball, stop that and this team is not even second rate. Crennel hid a lot with his bend don’t break defense but in the 4th qtr, he has continually failed to stop teams. Special team was good, what?, the first game. The team is better, just not very good, maybe with another draft or two.

  • November 8, 2010  - Niblick says:

    I figured we would have a game or two where we stunk. All teams do. Look at New Enland. They got blown out by Cleveland. However, I didn’t think the stinker would be because we lost our composure and had a rash of penalties. I thought it would be because of a ton of turnovers.

    I hope we can bounce back against Denver. If not, this game could have be a turn-around game in the wrong direction.

  • November 8, 2010  - Jan in Kabul says:

    I woke up at 1AM excited with the prospect of actually watching a Chiefs game on TV–an infrequent occurance on Armed Forces Network. Four hours later I made my way to work disappointed that I didn’t get to watch the Chiefs team that had earned so much success by playing good, fundamental football. I hope that team returns next week in Denver.

  • November 8, 2010  - Nate says:

    Yes they did it to themselves, and the zebras were just as bad as the chiefs.

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