The Chiefs deserved that fate, even if it looked like they might escape it for the better part of 55 minutes Sunday.
They are 2-1 after a brutal 20-17 loss in Indianapolis that leaves some questions about the offense, more questions about the special teams and one really intriguing question:
What the heck did Chris Jones say to Matt Ryan?
For now, the five observations from immediately after the game:
1. Don’t blame the Chiefs defense. Well, except that flag
The Chiefs’ defense allowed the game-winning touchdown with 24 seconds to play, but they aren’t the blameworthy group here.
We’ll get to the special teams, but the offense hasn’t clicked for eight quarters.
Truth is, the defense was the only group holding the ship above water for three quarters, masking a game in which so much else went wrong.
Colts quarterback Matt Ryan entered the game with a 7.4 passer rating when pressured, and so the Chiefs brought a lot of it.
With creativity. The Chiefs heavily blitzed Ryan, getting home five times.
It’s the aftermath of one of them that became problematic.
Following Nick Bolton’s second sack in the fourth quarter, Chris Jones began jawing with Ryan, and head referee Shawn Smith threw a flag to extend the Colts’ final drive.
Would love to know what Jones said, by the way, because a verbal personal foul, in that situation, isn’t typical.
2. The very un-special teams
Is there a grade worse than F?
The special teams, collectively, had possibly its worst game in the Dave Toub Era.
And from the jump, no less.
Skyy Moore let a punt slip through his hands, and the Colts pounced on the loose football inside the 5-yard line. Three plays later, the cashed the turnover into a touchdown.
It was just an omen.
Fill-in kicker Matt Ammendola missed an extra-point and a 34-yard field goal attempt, and the latter was a key gaffe in the fourth quarter. Isiah Pacheco fumbled a kickoff return, though he got it back. And the Chiefs totally botched a fake field goal attempt.
It’s tough to win games when your special teams are out-played that badly in four phases.
3. Where is the run game?
There’s no team in football with a better run-blocking offensive line than the Chiefs.
That’s courtesy of Pro Football Focus grades, which rank the Chiefs as heads-and-shoulders better with run blocking than even second-place Denver through two weeks.
But the production just doesn’t match those figures. Which turns the pointer finger to the running backs. There’s not been much to provide optimism over the initial three weeks, but Sunday was particularly underwhelming.
The Chiefs rushed for 58 yards, and Mahomes accounted for 26 of those.
4. Run defense
The Colts dug themselves a hole to open the season, but it’s not at the fault of their best playmaker. Jonathan Taylor still averaged 5.4 yards per carry in the initial two weeks, and regardless of the record, the Colts’ offense is always going to go through their workhorse running back who paced the NFL in rushing by more than 500 yards a year ago.
He couldn’t find much room against the Chiefs defense, and this is becoming a theme we haven’t talked enough about. The Chiefs have vastly improved with their run defense with good showings in all three weeks.
Jonathan Taylor rushed for just 71 yards on 21 carries.
5. Orlando Brown had a day he’d like to forget
Orlando Brown bypassed an extension that would have put him in line with a top-five paid left tackle in the NFL.
Which left him in a prove-it year, awaiting to re-visit the contract conversation next offseason.
He won’t want to bring up Sunday’s outing in that conversation.
Brown had a rough go of it while lined up opposite defensive end Yannick Ngakoue for most of the day. On one second-quarter drive alone, Ngakoue beat Brown three times — once for a sack and another time hitting Mahomes’ arm on a pass attempt. On the opening snap of the third quarter, Brown tried to get a head start, whistled for a false start.