KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the third consecutive game, the Kansas City Chiefs failed to score in the second half.
“We’ve got to be better,” tight end Travis Kelce said.
During losses at Denver three weeks ago and Monday versus Philadelphia, sandwiched around a white-knuckle win against Miami in Germany, before the recent bye week, the Patrick Mahomes-led and Andy Reid-schemed offense came up empty after halftime.
Nothing. Nada. A big, fat goose egg.
“All season long, we haven’t played great football in the second half,” Mahomes said.
The problems aren’t hard to diagnose.
Kansas City led 17-7 and the defense forced a three-and-out to open the third quarter.
The Chiefs had a golden opportunity to pad their lead, but a Trey Smith holding penalty short-circuited the drive.
Another three-and-out followed before Jawaan Taylor’s third-down false start backed up Kansas City and led to another punt.
Philadelphia’s offense found its legs on the next drive, bullying its way to the end zone and trimming to lead to 17-14.
Kansas City finally responded on offense, marching 65 yards on 12 plays.
But the 5-minute, 50-second drive — the longest for either team Monday — ended abruptly when Kelce coughed up the ball at the Eagles’ 10-yard line early in the fourth quarter.
“I’m just not playing up to the level that I have in the past,” said Kelce, who finished with seven catches for 44 yards and a touchdown. “I’ve got to be better.”
It was the second red-zone turnover of the game. Mahomes also threw an interception in the end zone during the first half.
“It’s a terrible feeling,” Smith said of the red-zone giveaways. “You want to go in there and score every time you get up there. No words can describe that — just disappointment.”
The Chiefs’ defense had Kelce’s back, forcing yet another three-and-out, but the offense continued to sputter before the Eagles took their first lead on Jalen Hurts’ second touchdown run of the second half.
Kansas City’s next drive fizzled after Creed Humphrey was flagged for a false start.
Once again, the Chiefs’ defense gave its offense a chance, but Mahomes was guilty of intentional grounding one play after Marquez Valdes-Scantling dropped a potential game-winning touchdown on a 50-yard deep post.
The penalty left Kansas City facing fourth-and-25 in the closing minutes and there was no Mahomes magic to be had on this night.
“We’ve got to minimize our mistakes and maximize what we do best,” Smith said. “We’ve just got to come back to work and keep working at it at the end of the day.”
It’s uncharted territory for the Chiefs’ offense, which is used to lighting up the NFL with Mahomes at the controls and Reid as the mastermind.
Rather unbelievably, Kansas City ranks dead last in the NFL in second-half scoring this season, averaging only 5.3 points after halftime.
“Offensively, we’re just not where I would want to be at at this point of the season,” Mahomes said. “That’s everybody. It starts with me. I’ve got to make better throws at certain times and we’ve got to be more consistent throughout the game.”
There’s frustration, but also hope in the Chiefs’ locker room.
“Turnovers and penalties — it’s nothing that they did; it’s all us,” Kelce said tersely after the loss to the Eagles. “It’s all fixable. We’ve just got to do it.”