KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs moved the ball well against the Los Angeles Rams between the 20s, though drives too often fizzled in the red zone, and their defense shut down a team missing most of its offensive playmakers.
All good things from Sunday's 26-10 victory.
Special teams, on the other hand? It was another rough day for coordinator Dave Toub, who watched Skyy Moore fumble a punt for the third time this season, then watched the Rams execute a fake punt that kept another drive alive.
Those two miscues didn't cost the Chiefs any points, thanks mostly to the fact that the Rams were missing quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson II and two starting offensive linemen. But against just about any other NFL team, including the Bengals this coming weekend, that sort of execution isn't going to cut it.
"We had the fake on us this time — it's the second time we've had one — which is true, obviously, but we anticipated that happening and worked on it and they just got us," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Monday.
"I think one great learning place for the players, especially the young players, is to put them on special teams, and then you just continually progress and get better as the season goes on," Reid continued. "There are going to be some early issues as we go here and you hope it picks up as we go forward. That's where we're at right now."
It's not early in the season, though. The Chiefs (9-2) are well past the halfway point, and despite all the special teams mishaps this season, they are in first place in the AFC. The stakes couldn't be a whole lot higher over the final six games, the first three of them on the road, as they try to secure the No. 1 seed and lone first-round playoff bye.
"I'm happy with the ‘W,' like everybody else, but you don't want to get complacent looking at the win and forgetting about the other underlying issues with this," Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark said. "Sean McVay, that shows what type of coach they have. They are playing their (third teamers) and not giving no quit — not showing no quit or surrender. My hat's off to those boys. We were able to get the 'dub but there's some more work to do."
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was 27 of 42 for 320 yards with a touchdown and an interception, which are pedestrian numbers by his lofty standards. But those 27 completions went to a whopping 10 different players, and all of those receivers had a catch of at least 9 yards. That makes the Kansas City offense a nightmare to defend.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
Take away some nice scrambles by Mahomes and the Chiefs only averaged about 3 yards per carry. They were hard yards, too, and Isiah Pacheco and Ronald Jones fought for every one. So it falls upon the offensive line, which gave up just two QB hits and no sacks, to create some better holes for the running game.
Nick Bolton picked off a pass for the second straight game while deflecting a pass and leading the Chiefs with 11 tackles. It was another excellent performance that ultimately could help the second-year pro earn his first Pro Bowl appearance.
Toub has long been one of the best special teams coordinators in the game, going back to his days coaching Devin Hester and Robbie Gould in Chicago. Reid is confident that he will turn things around this season, but time is running out.
There were no new injuries against the Rams. The bigger question is whether Kadarius Toney, who missed the game with a hamstring injury, will return this week. His history of injuries is one reason the Giants were willing to trade him.
5 — The Chiefs have won five straight games, giving them at least one five-game winning streak in each of the past 10 seasons. The longest has been 10 consecutive wins during the 2015 and 2020 seasons.
The Chiefs begin a three-game trip in Cincinnati, which rallied to beat them in last year's AFC title game and deny Kansas City a third straight Super Bowl appearance. The Chiefs then head to Denver and Houston before finally returning home on Christmas Eve to face the Seahawks.