Chiefs’ third-down efficiency, run defense top lows from Thursday night loss

Nov. 20, 2014; Oakland, CA; Chiefs defenders gang tackle Raiders fullback Marcel Reece (45) during the fourth quarter at Coliseum. Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Nov. 20, 2014; Oakland, CA; Chiefs defenders gang tackle Raiders fullback Marcel Reece (45) during the fourth quarter at Coliseum. Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There is no other way to say it: Kansas City’s 24-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders Thursday night was ugly.

The narrative heading into Week 12 facing a then-winless Oakland team surrounded a “trap game” with a short week and knowing the Denver Broncos were on the horizon in Week 13.

And this was especially true given the Chiefs’ big win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 11.

The Chiefs, of course, certainly said all the right things early in the week.

But Thursday night’s performance sure looked like the Chiefs fell into a Grizzly bear-sized trap. The team’s lethargic first half was either a hangover from Week 11 or a lack of focus considering the 1 yard of total offense in the first two possessions.

The Chiefs’ five-game winning streak is over, and the team must reflect on two of the four losses this season have come against the Tennessee Titans and Raiders, teams with a combined 3-18 record.

There are 10 days before the big showdown on Nov. 30 with the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium, so here are five lows and highs to mull over from Thursday night.


• The dismal start to the game can be traced to an area the team excelled at entering Thursday night. The Chiefs were ranked third in the league in third-down efficiency, converting at a 48 percent ratio. Oakland held the Chiefs to 1-of-9 on third downs in the first half, and the Chiefs finished the game converting 2-of-14 (14 percent).

• Kansas City’s run defense produced a stinker against a Raiders run offense that entered Thursday night ranked 32 in the league (63 yards rushing per game). Oakland punished the Chiefs with 179 yards rushing on 30 attempts, which including 112 yards and two touchdowns from rookie Latavius Murray. The Chiefs entered Week 12 without allowing a rushing touchdown on the season. Kansas City’s run defense also failed to stop quarterback Derek Carr on fourth-and-1 and third-and-1 quarterback sneaks during Oakland’s game-winning drive.

• The Chiefs want rookie punt returner De’Anthony Thomas to remain aggressive as long as he’s aware of his surroundings. Thomas has a propensity to field punts at bad spots on the field, most recently in Week 10 against the Buffalo Bills when he fielded a punt inside the 5-yard line. His bad decision making reared its head again late in the second quarter. Thomas took a bouncing ball at the 17 yard line while surrounded by Raiders defenders and turned backwards before being dropped for a 12-yard loss. The Chiefs turned to wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. the rest of the game to field punts.

• Oakland quarterback Derek Carr appeared to pick on Chiefs cornerback Ron Parker, who drew a questionable pass interference penalty and was beaten by wide receiver James Jones for the game-winning 9-yard touchdown. Parker was solid while filling in for strong safety Eric Berry for five games. But he has struggled in pass coverage while playing left cornerback in two straight weeks after a brilliant Week 10 performance against the Buffalo Bills.

• Kansas City’s lack of a deep threat was on full display on the team’s final drive. With no timeouts and 1:35 on the clock, the Chiefs were virtually forced to dink-and-dunk before quarterback Alex Smith’s desperation deep pass down the left sideline to wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. on a fourth-and-13 play fell incomplete. The Chiefs also lost wide receiver Junior Hemingway to a concussion, a blow to an already thin wide receiver corps that entered Week 12 without Donnie Avery (groin) and A.J. Jenkins (shoulder). Hammond had one catch for 7 yards, Dwayne Bowe finished with three catches for 42 yards on five targets and rookie Albert Wilson had two catches for 27 yards on two targets.


• Running back Jamaal Charles totaled 122 yards from scrimmage (80 yards rushing, 42 yards receiving), which puts him at 10,006 career combined yards (rushing, receiving, returning) to rank third in Chiefs history. Charles is the third player in franchise history to reach 10,000 career combined yards. Kick returner/wide receiver Dante Hall ranks first with 12,356 yards and tight end Tony Gonzalez is second with 10,963 yards.

• Kicker Cairo Santos connected from 24 and 25 yards, respectively, on the night to extend his streak of made field goals attempts to 13, which includes eight straight games with a field goal. The rookie out of Tulane has shaken off a 2-of-4 start to the season and is currently 15-of-17 (88.2 percent) through 11 regular-season games.

• Punter Dustin Colquitt landed four punts inside the 20-yard line to tie a season-high. He also boomed a season-high 69-yard punt, marking Colquitt’s longest punt since a 71-yard bomb, which also came against the Raiders in 2012. Colquitt continues to add to his career totals of punts inside the 20 and now has 309, which ranks 10th in NFL history.

• Outside linebacker Justin Houston snapped a two-game skid without a sack by dropping Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr for a 2-yard loss. Houston now has a league-leading 13 sacks on the season.

• Quarterback Alex Smith overcame a sluggish first half where he completed 8-of-18 passes for 48 yards to finish the game completing 20-of-36 pass for 234 yards and two touchdown passes. The Chiefs don’t score 17 unanswered second-half points if not for Smith getting in a groove.