The Kansas City Chiefs have dropped four straight and seemingly found ways to correct certain aspects of their game that struggled one week, but only to have something new pop up the next week.
During Sunday's 38-31 loss to the New York Jets, the Chiefs' offense was explosive, grabbed multiple chunk plays and put enough points on the board to win the game. Alex Smith threw for more than 360 yards with four touchdowns, and Tyreek Hill had a career game with 185 yards receiving and a couple of long touchdown receptions.
But the Chiefs' defense, which had given up just 28 points over the last two games combined, allowed the Jets to convert 13 of 20 third-down opportunities and hold the ball for almost 72 percent of the total game time (43 minutes out of 60).
They are still looking to put a complete game together for the first time in a while.
"You'd like to point out one thing, but that's tough today," Chiefs' coach Andy Reid said after the game of what happened. "There was a little bit of everything. We've got to do better."
The Chiefs had been shutout in the first quarter in their last three games and last scored two touchdowns in more than 66 minutes of offensive possession time, which spanned three games, but that wasn't the issue on Sunday. They put up two quick touchdowns in less than three minutes—with Smith hitting tight end Travis Kelce twice for scores of 22 and 36 yards in the games' opening minutes.
"I saw some good things there," Reid, who gave up play-calling duties this week to offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, noted of the offense. "We had some explosive plays, which I thought were important. We were lacking those. This was an opportunity where we could get some big plays."
After the Jets keyed in on Kelce after the first two drives, the focus went to Hill, who finished with the best receiving game of his career.
But in the end and despite the offense's overall performance, which included averaging more than 10 yards per play, the group was asked to drive down the field and attempt tie the game on a final drive, which began with a little more than two minutes on the clock with the team trailing, 38-31.
"The offense did some good things, but again, when you have the ball in your hands at the end of the game, you've got to score," Reid said. "That's the objective."
Trailing by a point with nine minutes left in the game, the Jets' offense embarked on a 14-play, 75-yard drive that was extended in part because of four Chiefs' penalties, but culminated with quarterback Josh McCown's sneak up the middle on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
All-in-all on that final drive, the Jets ran eight "goal-to-go" plays, with three additional plays being declared a "no play" because of a Chiefs' penalty. One of the key penalties came on a made field goal in which the Chiefs would have been trailing by two points with almost five minutes left to play, but the referee said that defensive lineman Bennie Logan made contact with the center, and the penalty led to an automatic first down.
"Time of possession got a little bit skewed there," Reid explained. "We've got to do a better job of getting off the field when given the opportunity. We had a lot of third-and-long situations that we couldn't get off the field, so time of possession was a factor in this game."
Looking ahead, the Chiefs now find themselves in a three-way tie at the top of the AFC West with the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers, who both travel to Arrowhead over the next two weeks.
"You keep working and you work hard and smart. Right?" Reid explained of the mindset moving forward. "And trust each other. That's how you go about it. It's a competitive league. There's a small margin between winning and losing, and we're right there. These aren't games where there's a large difference between the teams score-wise.
"We're within striking distance and we've just got to fix some things and get better."
Five of the Chiefs' six losses this year have been one-possession games.
"Certainly not where we thought we'd be after a 5-0 start, but that's the NFL," quarterback Alex Smith added. "No one is giving you anything. You got to go out and get it every week. We know we got two big ones here going back home, so we've got to find a way to get better and get ready to go try to win a game."
The Chiefs have a big one this Sunday as they play host to the Raiders, who are coming off a 24-17 victory over the New York Giants. It's the first of three-straight home games for the Chiefs, who are looking to defend their AFC West title for the first time in franchise history.