Sep 9, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (82) is unable to make this catch against the Atlanta Falcons in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Atlanta won the game 40-24. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

Chiefs Fall To The Falcons: The Breakdown

The Kansas City Chiefs opened their 2012 campaign with a 16-point home loss to the Atlanta Falcons. It’s not time to panic at One Arrowhead Drive, but there is reason for concern. Before you step off of the ledge, let’s see what we can take away from Sunday’s game.

The Good:

1. The Chiefs were efficient at converting third downs. They converted 11 of 16 third downs on the day. That’s good for 69% and second best in the league for Week 1. Kansas City was woefully inefficient in the same category just one year ago. It’s only one game, but improvement in that area is a positive sign.

2. Jamaal Charles ran off-tackle for a 46-yard scamper midway through the second quarter. Everyone, including Charles, has been waiting for a long run to put lingering concerns about his surgically-repaired knee to rest. It’s not often that we’ve seen #25 caught from behind, but don’t be discouraged by that. Falcons strong safety Will Moore got a hand on Charles (causing him to stumble). That slowed him up enough that free safety Thomas DeCoud eventually made the stop. He may have lost speed, but that play wasn’t any indication of it.

3. Kevin Boss and Tony Moeaki were successful spokes in the wheel of the passing game. The two tight ends combined for 5 catches, 73 yards, and 1 touchdown. One of those catches (by Moeaki) extended an offensive drive that later led to the first Kansas City touchdown of the afternoon.

4. Dexter McCluster was Matt Cassel’s favorite target on Sunday. He was targeted four more times than any other Chiefs’ pass-catcher. #22 hauled in 6 balls for 82 yards. Sooner or later, defensive coordinators will have to account for the diminutive receiver. He’s proving that he can hurt a defense from the slot position.

5. Kansas City’s run defense was effective against the Atlanta ground game. The Falcons ran 23 times, but only at 3.7 yards per clip. The Chiefs defense deserves some credit, but Atlanta didn’t commit to running the football. They were able to throw the ball at will on Sunday. It is encouraging that Turner and company were kept in check though.

The Bad:

1. Tom McMahon’s special teams unit struggled in kick coverage on Sunday. Jacquizz Rodgers returned Succop’s second kickoff 77 yards before finally being brought down by Javier Arenas. That return helped the Falcons extend their lead back out to a touchdown toward the end of the opening quarter.

2. Kansas City’s defense had trouble all day with pressuring Matt Ryan. With Tamba Hali serving out his league-mandated suspension for a substance-abuse violation, the difficulty at getting to the quarterback wasn’t at all surprising. Linebacker Justin Houston had the Chiefs’ only sack of the day. The lack of pressure resulted in three “Matty Ice” touchdowns and a 136.4 passer rating.

3. Tony Gonzalez was booed after punctuating a 7-yard touchdown catch with his signature crossbar dunk. This came after the same Arrowhead Stadium crowd greeted him with a standing ovation.

The Ugly:

1. The Chiefs pass defense was porous, missing four starters. Kansas City couldn’t force a single Atlanta punt until the waning moments of the game. The Falcons scored on their first eight possessions. The Chiefs had no answer for Julio Jones, who averaged an eye-popping 18 yards per catch. Ryan was sacked only once in 31 attempts. Poor throws to Roddy White and Julio Jones saved the Chiefs from surrendering two more touchdowns. Atlanta put on an absolute clinic through the air.

2. Kansas City came unglued when kicker Ryan Succop missed a 40-yard field goal to start the third quarter. The wayward attempt was a disastrous way to end a 10-play drive. The poorly-kicked ball bounded off of the right upright and set an unfortunate chain of events into motion. Atlanta drove down the field and extended their lead to two possessions and the Chiefs turned the ball over on each of their next three offensive series. The Chiefs weren’t the same after Succop’s miss and fell apart at the seams on both sides of the ball.

3. Matt Cassel needed only 4:53 to turn the ball over three times. Those three turnovers resulted in the Falcons’ final 13 points. Cassel began forcing plays when the Chiefs trailed the Falcons 27-17 late in the third quarter. He’s not the kind of quarterback you want under center when you’re playing from behind. The Atlanta defense pinned their ears back, and Cassel showed them just how generous he can be. He fumbled and then threw picks to both William Moore and Stephen Nicholas. Cassel had to have been in the running for Atlanta’s game ball.

This game should leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth for the next several days. The question here is whether or not the Chiefs will fold the tent or get to 1-1 before heading to the Big Easy the following week. Sunday ought to present the perfect opportunity to right the ship. Kansas City has a date with the same Buffalo Bills who humiliated them in Arrowhead to start the 2011 season. Sunday will reveal how much character this football team has.

Until next week, Addicts!

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