KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs coach Andy Reid spent much of the regular season preaching the need for his offense to better execute its game plan, and if the Sunday night’s 33-10 thrashing of the Denver Broncos serves any indication, the message finally appears received loud and clear.
“We felt like like we were just off by a hair,” Reid said. “In this business you can’t be off by a hair or things go crazy.”
The Chiefs averaged 6.5 yards per play against the Broncos, a full yard better than the team’s season average. That yard proved the difference in converting 9-of-17 third-down opportunities and dominating time of possession. The Chiefs held the ball for a staggering 38 minutes.
Blocking proved essential to the team’s improved precision. Poor blocking last week against Tennessee prevented the Chiefs from scoring from the 1-yard line and converting key third- and fourth-down chances.
Against the Broncos, key blocks sprung long touchdown runs and helped the Chiefs convert in the red zone. The Chiefs scored on two of their three red zone trips, well above their season success rate of 44 percent that ranks 28th in the league.
“The guys executed, their focus was spot on.” Reid said. “They spent a lot of time on attention to detail.”
Tight end Travis Kelce provided two of the key blocks. Quarterback Alex Smith’s 10-yard touchdown run on a read-option designed run succeeded thanks to Kelce providing the block that sealed the edge.
On the team’s next possession, Kelce laid out Broncos safety Darian Stewart with a devastating downfield block freeing Tyreek Hill for a 70-yard touchdown run.
Kelce, who caught 11 passes for 160 yards against the Broncos, may take more pride in his block and than receiving.
“That’s all it is, at the end of the day it’s a prideful matter,” Kelce said. “Whether or not you’re going to be able to play to the whistle and block your man for the guy behind you.”
Kelce himself later benefitted from a wall of blockers that freed him for an 80-yard touchdown romp off a wide receiver screen pass. Offensive linemen Mitchell Schwartz and Mitch Morse along with tight end Demetrius Harris opened up a hole, and a block by receiver Jeremy Maclin downfield supplied the finishing touch.
Those plays illustrated the attention and focus Reid spent weeks coaxing from his team.
“We tightened it up,” Reid said. “The guys did this. They tightened it up and were more accurate I thought. When they had opportunities, they made plays.”
The only passing cause for concern relates to the Chiefs continually habit of letting off the gas in the second half. The offense went three straight games without an offensive score following halftime before breaking through in the fourth quarter against Denver.
Kansas City’s offensive piled up 330 yards in the first half at 9.4 yards per play. The team picked up just 154 yards at a 3.9-yard clip in the second half. The game never appeared in doubt, lessening the team’s sense of urgency.
The Chiefs’ 12 fourth-quarter points, however, stemmed from two field goals and a gadget play by defensive tackle Dontari Poe straight from a Hollywood movie.
“Are there a couple that we’d like to have back?” Andy Reid asked rhetorically. “Yeah, you never come out with a perfect game, but the guys played at a high level against a good opponent too.”
Kelce echoed his coach when he discussed the need to stick to the details and improve his own execution for the playoffs.
“There were some key blocks and there were a couple blocks where it was Bad News Bears out there for me,” Kelce said. “I’ve got to keep working on it. Stick to the fundamentals that we do Monday through Friday and keep playing hard for the guys that are back there running the ball.”
Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and the Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.