KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Down by 24 points in the third quarter, Willie Gay Jr.’s first career interception provided a glimmer of hope Sunday for the Kansas City Chiefs in a demoralizing loss at the Tennessee Titans.
Patrick Mahomes and the offense took over at their own 20-yard line and quickly moved into Tennessee territory, but everything unraveled from there — much like Kansas City’s season through the first seven weeks.
“We really need to get both sides playing well, so we’re going to go back and look at it again,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We’ve got to eliminate the turnovers and the penalties. These are things that haven’t been common to us. I’m seeing things that I haven’t seen before, and we’ve just got to fix it.”
On this particular drive, there was a holding penalty on rookie right guard Trey Smith followed by a false start by Tyreek Hill then a third-down sack as Smith got beat on a bull rush.
The Chiefs proceeded to burn a timeout amid indecision whether to punt the gumball on fourth-and-21 from the Titans 39-yard line.
Eventually, Harrison Butker trotted on for a 57-yard try that started wide right.
Much like Kansas City’s season overall, Butker’s try completely missed the mark as Tennessee rolled to a 27-3 victory.
“We came in knowing they have a good defensive front, so you want to stay out of third-and-longs and penalties kill you,” Reid said. “You guys saw that. You saw that early, and we’ve got to take care of it.”
Mahomes, who finished with a season-low 206 yards passing and committed two more turnovers in the loss, said it’s not one single thing that has caused the Chiefs to unravel this season — though he admitted once again that he’s pressing too hard to make plays.
“Before the end of the half, just go down,” Mahomes said of a fumble he lost that led to a Titans field goal late in the second quarter. “Why even try to get the extra two yards? It’s just little things like that add up and you end up getting beat pretty bad.”
There have been games where the defense couldn’t get a stop and the pass rush has been missing in action — with or without Chris Jones in the lineup and with or without Jones lining up at defensive tackle.
The offense leads the NFL with 17 turnovers in seven games — already more than either of the last two seasons, which ended with Super Bowl berths.
Special teams also has been plagued by turnovers and penalties as well.
“We have to come together as a team — offense, defense and special teams — and play that complete game every single week, if we want to be who we want to be,” said Mahomes, who was knocked from the game late in the fourth quarter.
Reid and Mahomes both said the former MVP quarterback passed the NFL’s concussion protocol and seemed unconcerned about his availability moving forward, but Kansas City has plenty of reason for concern about its chances to win the AFC West and return to the playoffs after once again sinking below .500.
“We have enough leaders on this team, we have to find a way,” Mahomes said. “I don’t know what that’s going to take yet. We’ll go in, we’ll talk about it, we’ll figure it out, we’ll watch the film, but I trust that we’ll find it. That’s what part of leadership, that’s what part of great teams are is being able to battle through adversity.”