KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Chiefs seemed to have figured out their running game, which remains centered on Jamaal Charles. However, faced with critical third-and-shorts in the waning minutes against the 49ers, coach Andy Reid abandoned the run in favor of passes that kept falling incomplete.
On one occasion, the ball was batted down at the line of scrimmage.
It reminded many Chiefs cynics of the season-opener against the Titans, when Charles only touched the ball 11 times the entire game. Afterward, Reid acknowledged that he had been ”negligent” in not getting the ball in the hands of his biggest playmaker.
”In those situations, it’s hard,” Charles said once again taking the high road, ”but coach knows what he is doing in those situations. I don’t know. Coach calls the plays and whatever he says, that is what we have to do.”
They weren’t the only questionable decisions that Reid made, though.
He had an opportunity to kick a 53-yard field goal with a 17-16 lead and opted to punt, and the ball wound up going into the end zone for a touchback – and a negligible net.
None of those issues was nearly as critical as two mistakes late in the game.
The first of them was an egregious penalty for having 12 players on the field when San Francisco had been forced to a punt. It happened with 4:19 left and Chiefs trailing 19-17, and gave the 49ers a fresh set of downs. They ran another couple minutes off the clock before kicking a field goal, putting the Chiefs in the position of needing a touchdown.
”Yeah, I’ll take the responsibility on that,” Reid said. ”I need to make sure that I count the guys, make sure down the stretch that everybody knows exactly what they’re doing.”
The second mistake came with just over 2 minutes left. The Chiefs had gotten the ball back with plenty of time to mount a potential winning drive, and Smith had already misfired on first down. He tried to thread the needle to Anthony Fasano but instead overthrew his big tight end, getting picked off by Perrish Cox and essentially sealing the game.
”We just had three verticals on that side, trying to hit Fasano up the seam. The ball got up a little bit – I didn’t even see it, just kind of saw the end of the play when it went over his head,” Smith said. ”It’s tough, you’re trying to make a play there at the end and move the chains. I thought I had it, but the ball just got up on me a little bit.”
The result was a sour taste heading into their bye week.
Kansas City will rest and regroup this week before turning its attention to the finishing stretch of the season. It begins with a critical AFC West game in San Diego on Oct. 9, which is followed by winnable games against the Rams and Jets at Arrowhead Stadium.
The defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks highlight a brutal finishing stretch.
”It’s not like we look at teams as hard or easy teams. This is the NFL. It’s not like that,” Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith said. ”We’ve definitely made some strides. We’ve done some things well. We’ve messed up a couple of times. Now we’re at the bye and we have a chance to get healthy and evaluate ourselves as a whole and as individuals to see where we’re at.”