Patrick Mahomes is among the players who should shoulder a fair share of the blame for the Chiefs’ loss to the Colts in Week 3.
The Kansas City Chiefs lost in frustrating fashion on Sunday, the latest addition to the franchise’s apparently cursed history against the Indianapolis Colts. The 20-17 final score came as a wake-up-call after Kansas City looked phenomenal through two weeks and lost to an Indianapolis team that looked incompetent over the same stretch.
Given the last 20 years of competition between these two teams, and the heartbreak that it has brought to Chiefs Kingdom, there truly is an argument to be made for the Chiefs being unable to play the Colts well. On Sunday, however, there was far more to blame than a curse.
The Chiefs’ offense was out of whack, there was one exceptionally bad penalty, and the special teams unit may have been better off had they just stayed on the bus. The whole team could be labeled at fault, but these three individuals are particularly deserving of blame for Sunday’s loss.
Kickers and relief pitchers are one in the same. They do a mostly thankless job, and face daunting odds on a day-to-day basis. The most unfortunate aspect of a bad day for Matt Ammendola is that Chiefs Kingdom has become accustomed to having a legit closer. Harrison Butker boasts a 90% completion percentage on his field goal attempts, and Ammendola is nowhere near that level.
As a contracted employee, simply filling the role in Butker’s absence, expectations for Ammendola were never high, but now they are as low as possible. In all actuality, it’s probably a safe bet to assume he’s unemployed by sunrise on Monday. Special teams as a whole was a wreck on Sunday—Skyy Moore was terrible on punt return and Isiah Pacheco fumbled a kick return—but Ammendola is responsible for more than just the points he left off the board.
Missing an extra point and a field goal is a big deal in a three point game, but his lousy effort was felt even beyond that. With 13:34 left on the game clock, Andy Reid sent out the field goal unit and ran a fake on 4th-and-10. Reid’s confidence in Ammendola was clearly shaken, and the decision to not just go for it with the offense was questionable. However, if an actual professional kicker was suited up for the Chiefs on Sunday, that would be irrelevant. They would have been up by seven with 13 minutes to play, and a different outcome would have unfolded.
After the defense looked incredible for the first 55 minutes of the game, sacking Matt Ryan deep in Colts territory with five minutes to play should have been the punctuation mark on an excellent day. Instead, Chris Jones decided to get in Ryan’s face after the play and share some choice words.
Whatever he said, and whether or not they were deserving of changing the game’s outcome, will be debated all week. Regardless, his choice of words earned an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, good for 15 yards and an automatic first down. Say what you will about Ryan, but he took advantage of that exact moment, and led the Colts for 10 plays and 69-yards en route to the game winning touchdown.
It is truly disappointing that the greatness we saw from the defense on Sunday will be remembered by one dumb penalty.
Look, I know there was a ton of ugly on Sunday, but I’ve already buried Ammendola, and described Moore’s and Pacheco’s rookie blunders. Patrick Mahomes was off his game, and that contributed to the outcome.
Forget the stat sheet. Mahomes 78.5 passer rating was less than we are accustomed to, but it wasn’t his numbers or his interception that held back the offense. Remember the scuffle between Mahomes and Eric Bienemy before half? There was a good reason for that.
It was clear, early on, that the deep ball wasn’t dialed in, but Mahomes refused to give up those reads. There were a number of times in the first half, leading up to that heated exchange, where Mahomes simply never finished his progression. The second play of the game featured a wide open Clyde Edwards-Helaire on a wheel route and Mahomes never gave him a look. Before half, it looked like—at least from the broadcast view—that there were multiple opportunities to get the ball into field goal range. Mahomes elected to look deep.
I refuse to give all the blame to Mahomes in any loss, especially when Travis Kelce dropped a touchdown pass that he had both hands on, but Patrick was not good on Sunday. If we’re assigning blame, he deserves his share.