It became blatantly obvious through the course of Sunday’s 23-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts that the Chiefs were lacking focus–something that can’t happen against a playoff bound team.
Whether it was an Alex Smith under-thrown interception in the end zone, or a Knile Davis kickoff return fumble; this wasn’t the same Kansas City Chiefs team Arrowhead was accustomed to seeing every Sunday. The players are well aware of it, also.
“I think we came out with a pretty good edge,” Donald Stephenson said following the loss to the Colts. “We just have to stay focused through the game. The turnovers, miscues here and there, a team like that will jump on it. That’s what they did today.”
Losing focus can be associated with penalties called, especially flags thrown for unsportsmanlike conduct. With a chance to get back in the game in the third quarter, the Chiefs defense forced a third down incompletion and appeared ready to get the ball back. But that would be for naught, due to a taunting penalty from defensive tackle Dontari Poe.
“It was trash talk, and they called a penalty,” Poe said.
The taunting penalty resulted in 15 yards and an automatic first down. The Colts capitalized later on the drive when kicker Adam Vinatieri drilled a 30 yard field goal to make the score 23-7.
Aside from the penalties, seven of which resulted in 65 yards, the Chiefs couldn’t keep a handle on the football–an anomaly for a team that’s been consistently positive in the turnover category.
The Chiefs turned the ball over four times, including two interceptions from Smith.
“It’s not Chiefs football right there,” rookie tackle Eric Fisher said about the offensive performance. “That’s not the identity we’ve had all year.”
With the loss, and a Denver Broncos 37-13 victory over the Houston Texans, the Chiefs have no shot at taking the AFC West title. However, that doesn’t mean there is nothing to play for against a playoff-minded San Diego Chargers team.
At 8-7, the Chargers still have an outside shot at clinching a wild-card berth with a win in the final week. Knowing this, the Chiefs will be getting San Diego’s full effort. Instead of taking the week 17 matchup lightly, the Chiefs should use this as a building block for the postseason.
We have to approach every week the same,” Fisher said. “We just need to make the most out of next week, go out there, play football like we know how to play football. We need to bounce back and come back next week.”