NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - INSIDE SLANT
Undefeated, but not unconcerned, the Kansas City Chiefs head into their bye week needing to add some offensive punch before trying to outscore the Denver Broncos and quarterback Peyton Manning.
Meantime, after keeping their record clean with a 10-point victory over the Buffalo Bills, the Chiefs were looking forward to two things: a mini-vacation that bye-week and then a Sunday night game on November 17th against the Broncos in Denver.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid rewarded his team with a full week away from meetings and practices. He is giving the coaching staff a long weekend off as well. Somewhere in this more quiet time Reid must figure out what to do with his offense.
The Chiefs are coming off their ninth victory, a winning effort that came without a touchdown from the offense.
As they eyeball that game after the bye against Denver, the Chiefs know their offense must be more prolific if the team is to stand up against the Broncos and quarterback Peyton Manning.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and his group didn't get near the end zone against a Buffalo defense that allowed 22 touchdowns in their first eight games.
The numbers were all the worst of the season for the Chiefs offense: fewest plays (54), fewest total yards (210), fewest rushing yards (95), fewest passing yards (115), and fewest first downs (15).
After nine games, the Chiefs offense is averaging 1.8 touchdowns per game, with just seven TDs in the last five games. Big plays were nowhere to be found in the Chiefs' offense against the Bills; no play gained more than 20 yards, and only 3 gained 12 yards or more. The only positive came with zero giveaways from the Kansas City offense.
"We moved the ball at times really well, but just couldn't finish any drives," said Alex Smith. "Between penalties, some throws and some drops . . . the type of defense they were playing, I think if you hit a couple of those, you really change the game. But you've got to hit them.
"There are little things in every game. I don't care how well you play, there are things you always want back and you want to do again. The great thing is finding a way to win. For us, no question we have to be better, but that's always easier after a victory."
Right now, the frustration with the offense has been soothed by the 9-0 record and the play of the K.C. defense. But after the game in Buffalo and as the players headed out for a week away, it was bothering the guys on that side of the ball.
"At the end of the game, I tried to get the offense together," said running back Jamaal Charles. "I said let's go and move the ball. We have to put some points on the board. We ended up putting 3 points up there, but we have to put six points to help out our defense. They were basically playing offense for us. We have to do a better job."
For the first time this season, Charles did not have 100-plus offensive yards, as he ran 17 times for 90 yards, and caught six passes, but for only six yards.
"They had two people on me sometimes and they were watching out for me, especially on the screen plays," Charles said. "They were hugging me and playing the screen routes well . . . they made some good adjustments on me and the offensive scheme today."
Over the next two weeks, Reid and his offensive coaching staff are going to need to make some adjustments in their plan with the ball.
"We need to go back in, as a staff, and do another self-scout," Reid said. "We do it weekly, but you go back and go through the whole thing again. Then, you start preparation for Denver . . . there are a lot of things we can improve on."
NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - NOTES, QUOTES
-- On his 30th birthday, Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali celebrated with a touchdown. Hali returned a recovered Buffalo fumble 11 yards for what proved to be the winning points in the Chiefs 23-13 victory over the Bills. It was his second touchdown of the season.
"Yes, I feel old today," Hali said. That's no surprise considering the Chiefs have played nine straight games. "I feel great about being 9-0!" Hali added.
His touchdown came with just under 13 minutes to play, with the score tied at 13-13. Buffalo quarterback Jeff Tuel and wide receiver T.J. Graham connected on a pass. As Graham was taking his third step with the catch, Chiefs cornerback Marcus Cooper got his hand on the ball and knocked it out. Was it an incompletion? Was it a catch and fumble? Nobody reacted, including the officiating crew. Nobody that is save Hali.
"It happened so quick, when it was down I thought the play was over; usually those plays are over," Hali said. "I just picked it up and I ran it in. It's a blessing."
-- The calendar said it was just the third day of November but with a winter chill in the Buffalo air, Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith felt like it was a holiday. That was due to his 100-yard interception return for a touchdown that proved to be the biggest play of the Chiefs victory No. 9, when they beat Buffalo.
"It was like Christmas," Smith said of the play that brought him the first scoring moment of his NFL career. "You know, you go downstairs as a little kid and there's a big box right there. That's how I felt."
The Chiefs were trailing 10-3 and the Bills were on the cusp of making it 17-3 with a third-and-goal play from the Kansas City one-yard line. The play call was a run/pass option for rookie quarterback Jeff Tuel. He picked pass and zeroed in on wide receiver T.J. Graham to his right. That's when Smith found his Christmas present.
"He threw it right to me," said Smith. "I guess he didn't see me. The main thing I wanted to do was focus and catch the ball, because I knew once I caught it that no one was catching me." Smith made the catch and took off towards the other end zone and no Buffalo player laid a hand on him. Smith celebrated before he even reached the end zone. "You have to high step when you get an interception like that for 100 yards; you always have to high step for the last 10 yards," Smith said.
As he scored, he went into a tribute to Deion Sanders, posing as he ran the same way Sanders did when he was playing.
"You have to give something out to Deion because when you get a play like that, you have to put the ball up. That's the rules."
NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
-- WR Dwayne Bowe put up his best single-game numbers of the season against Buffalo when he caught seven passes for 67 yards. Bowe has yet to have a 100-yard receiving day; over the previous three seasons (2010-12) he had 10 games with more than 100 receiving yards.
-- RB Jamaal Charles had only six yards on his six catches against Buffalo, but those receptions gave him 199 for his career, moving him into fourth place among running backs in Chiefs history. Charles passing Abner Hayes (197) and ahead of him at No. 3 is Priest Holmes (251).
-- QB Alex Smith was an accurate thrower against Buffalo, hitting on 19 of his 29 throws for a completion percentage of 65.5 percent. His number might have been better had his receivers not dropped four passes on the day. The problem for the Chiefs is those completions average just 6.53 yards a play.
-- WR Dexter McCluster saw his opportunities in the Chiefs offense increase in recent weeks because he was producing yards and some big plays. But that came to a stop against Buffalo, where he got just three touches on offense and gained five yards. He caught two passes for nine yards and ran one time for minus-four yards. McCluster hurt himself by dropping a throw from QB Alex Smith when he was wide open with a path to the end zone
-- DE Mike Catapano did not play against Buffalo because of a high-ankle sprain that he suffered the week before in a game against Cleveland. Catapano did not practice all week and may miss one more game after the bye week since those high sprains are always tough to rehab.
REPORT CARD VS. BILLS
PASSING OFFENSE: D -- all that kept the offense from a failing grade in the passing game was quarterback Alex Smith not throwing an interception. Smith did lose the ball at one point, but the Chiefs were able to recover his fumble. Pass protection was inconsistent and Smith went down twice and was hit another half-dozen times. He completed 65.5 percent of his throws, but averaged just 4.28 yards per attempt and 6.53 yards per completion.
RUNNING OFFENSE: D -- For the first time this year the Chiefs were unable to crack 100 rushing yards in a game. Without seven yards from Smith on scrambles away from the pass rush they wouldn't have cracked 90 yards; they finished with 95 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry. That's just not good enough for any offense that has a runner as good as Jamaal Charles.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- Although they were unable to register a sack on a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start, the Chiefs pass defense created three takeaways from the Bills passing game with two interceptions, a fumble recovery and two touchdowns. They gave up a 59-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, but that was the only TD they allowed in the game.
RUN DEFENSE: D -- The Bills ran for 241 yards on 38 carries, a gaudy 6.3-yard per carry average. That included a 61-yard run that started the second half by Buffalo's C.J. Spiller where he broke three tackles and made cornerback Brandon Flowers look like he was on ice skates in the open field when attempting a tackle.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus -- The Chiefs got nothing going in the return game, but the same could be said for the Bills. Where the Chiefs won the kicking game was with Ryan Succop on kicks and Dustin Colquitt on punts. Succop was 3-for-3 on field goals and he had 5 touchbacks on kickoffs. Colquitt punted 6 times, averaging 52.8 yards a punt, with a net average of 45 yards. In the windy conditions of The Ralph, those were very good performances by the guys that played with their feet.
COACHING: C-minus -- The victory kept Andy Reid and his staff out of their worst grade of the season. The offense never seemed to be able to solve the puzzle of the Buffalo defense and Bob Sutton's defense was simply unable to play with any consistency, despite scoring two touchdowns. Only Dave Toub's special teams were special. The Chiefs got outcoached, but they still won.