Slow start dooms Chiefs

Posted Sep 16, 2012

Two late touchdowns to Dwayne Bowe not enough

A fourth-quarter comeback wasn’t enough. The Chiefs (0-2) couldn’t dig out of an early three-touchdown hole, losing to the Buffalo Bills (1-1) at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, NY, 35-17.

Matt Cassel tossed two late touchdowns to Dwayne Bowe and connected on another long pass to Jonathan Baldwin. But save for those three plays – and a promising opening drive that ended with the first of the Chiefs’ 13 punts – the offense couldn’t collect itself in time to prevent a second loss in as many weeks.

A stagnant running game contributed heavily to the Chiefs’ slow start. The Bills defense interrupted three consecutive drives by stuffing Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis and forcing the Chiefs into long-distance downs.

On 17 combined attempts, the Chiefs’ two star backs gained only 69 yards. And that output, coupled with another breakout week by Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller, doomed the Chiefs in their first road game.

Spiller was already nearing 100 yards rushing as the first half came to and end. He finished the contest with 123 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 attempts.

The defense held its own against Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick through the air and limited Buffalo receivers. The Harvard alum finished with only 178 passing yards on the day.

But on the ground, Fitzpatrick proved to be a perfect compliment to Spiller by scrambling 20 yards in the first quarter and setting up the Bills for their first touchdown.

Spiller cashed in on Fitzpatrick’s big run with a 17-yard draw play. And on the next drive, he opened up the lead to two scores with a 38-yard run down the sideline.

The two teams traded possessions in the second quarter before Bills defensive end Alex Carrington stripped Matt Cassel. Defensive end Mario Williams fell on the fumble, giving the Bills more momentum in Chiefs’ territory.

Fitzpatrick found tight end Scott Chandler in behind a leaping Derrick Johnson and in front of a diving Abram Elam. Just like that, the Chiefs were down by three touchdowns.

Yet despite the first-half woes, the Chiefs drove with less than two minutes left in an attempt to cut into the Bills large lead. Cassel engineered a drive highlighted by tight end Kevin Boss’ 29-yard catch down the seam and a late-hit penalty, and got the offense within striking range.

They couldn’t capitalize on that opportunity. With 45 seconds left in the half and the Chiefs on the one-yard line, Bills linebacker Nick Barnett stripped Hillis.

That turnover at point-blank range proved to be the turning point. The Chiefs entered the locker room still training by 21.

The offense would rebound with 17 second half points. But those scores weren’t enough to unseat the Bills on Sunday and send the Chiefs to New Orleans next weekend without a win this season.

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