You cannot control everything that happens in an NFL game. That sometimes includes penalties. The referees can miss seeing something obvious, or find fault on a play that was complete;y legal. Dumb penalties, however, are totally within your control. And the Chiefs managed to have a number of such penalties on Saturday. Here are a few examples:
When Houston punted after their first series, Frankie Hammond returned the ball across the 50. But a holding penalty on Jamell Fleming meant the Kansas City actually started the drive on their own 13-yard line instead.
When Marcus Peters grabbed an interception in second quarter, he followed it up with a 36-yard return. That became moot due to a holding penalty on Husain Abdullah. That meant the Chiefs started on their own 10-yard line instead of the Texans 46.
Likewise, Smith made something out of nothing and managed to have a big gain on the ground with about 10 minutes left in the third quarter. Only to have the play called back because of a penalty on Albert Wilson.
None of the “should haves” above are anything new to the NFL. Even the best quarterback overthrows a receiver sometimes. Even the most disciplined team ends up committing a penalty that takes away momentum and field position. It happens. But when it all happens at the same time, or it happens repeatedly, then it is hard to call that championship caliber football.
They did not need to play that caliber of football on Saturday, but they may need to this coming weekend.
Though just last year the Chiefs demolished the Patriots, and Matt Verderame has called K.C. a nightmare matchup for New England, leaving opportunities as should have beens is unlikely to play as well against the Patriots. While the Texans had the seventh-ranked offense in the league, they were a lowly 22nd-overall in offense, and that showed in the Wild Card round.
The Patriots, though ranked marginally lower than Houston on defense (at 10th), scored the third most points in the NFL this year en route to a 12-4 record and a first round bye. And while the Texans were noted as being the first team in history to make the playoffs after have four separate quarterbacks win a game this season, New England has an all-too-often mentioned future Hall of Famer leading their team.
I believe that the Chiefs have every ability to march in Gillette Stadium hold of the defending Super Bowl champs, and earn a date in the AFC Championship game. But if they are going to do that, they are going to need capitalize on the type of opportunities that they should have in last week’s win.