KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The biggest fear for any coach after a deflating loss, of course, is the potential hangover effect.
But Chiefs coach Andy Reid firmly believes his troops will log the 27-17 defeat to the Denver Broncos on Sunday night in its proper place, learn from it, and resume their march toward an AFC West crown and beyond.
“That is as tough an environment (in Denver) as you’re going to play in,” Reid said at his Monday press conference, “and the positive is, is that we’ll be a better football team going out than going in. It’s important that we show improvement, and we will.
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“I had a chance to talk to the guys after the game and they understand that. They get it.”
The big test is how Reid’s 9-1 Chiefs respond this week as they prepare for another crucial division game against the San Diego Chargers.
“Our guys are strong,” Reid said. “They’re 9-1. That’s real. You just make sure you get yourself right for the next challenge. We have a chance to play a tough opponent this week. You turn on the film (of the Chargers) and you see that.
“You get yourself ready and it’s no more complicated than that.”
Still, one would assume there has to be at least a minor letdown, considering all the regional and national hype that went into Sunday night’s showdown with the Broncos.
But Reid won’t even go there.
“These guys, they worked very hard to get here and put themselves in this position,” he said. “They’re tough-minded. Yes, you put a lot of effort into preparation each week and you should be disappointed (when you lose).
“But you figure out what you did wrong, you learn from it and you move on. No excuses. We just have to get better.”
And the first order of business in the improvement area has to be the offense, which again struggled when it mattered most Sunday night.
The Chiefs came out slow and sloppy in the first half.
“The first 19 plays on offense, we had a (false start), a drop, a turnover and a fumbled snap,” Reid said. “You can’t do that against a good team. We have to get that corrected. We’re just not starting fast enough.”
The offense, ranked 24th in the league, simply couldn’t come up with a drive when the game was still in limbo. With the Chiefs trailing 17-10 late in the first half and into the third quarter, the defense stopped Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning on four consecutive possessions.
But each time, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and the offense failed at its chance to tie the game.
“I thought we did a pretty good job against (Manning),” Reid said. “I think he did a good job of getting the ball out fast. But we held him….his quarterback rating (94.1) was well below his average (118.3).
“Our defense gave the offense great chances there in the third quarter with stops on three straight drives…bang, bang, bang. But we didn’t take advantage of that. We need to. We had chances.”
As has been the case most of the season, the Chiefs’ offense has lacked the dynamic play. Jamaal Charles did break free for a 35-yard run — his longest of the season. But the longest pass play was only 26 yards and as a whole, the Chiefs’ offense again failed at the explosive play that could have shifted momentum.
“The main thing I care about is points and turnovers,” Reid said. “Do we need more explosive plays? Yes, sure. But it needs to be more (explosive) in terms of balance between the run and pass. It’s not like we’re trying not to get explosive plays.
“Those are things we continue to work on.”
But as mentioned, Reid expects his squad to put Denver in its rear-view mirror as quickly as possible.
“It was a good experience to play there,” Reid said. “Now we turn around and get ready for (the Chargers). We get it.”
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.