Chiefs rue dropped passes, penalties in sloppy season-opening loss to Detroit
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Just about the only member of the Kansas City Chiefs who didn't drop a pass in their 21-20 loss to Detroit Lions to open the NFL season on Thursday night was Travis Kelce, and that's because he was on the sideline in street clothes.
Rashee Rice dropped one in the opening minutes. Kadarius Toney had one bounce off his hands, get picked and returned 50 yards for a touchdown, all before dropping another long pass in the waning minutes. Skyy Moore had one bounce off his hands, as did backup tight end Noah Gray and Jerick McKinnon, a running back known for his dependable hands.
Patrick Mahomes had to be wondering who he offended to see so many of his passes end up on the ground.
“Just missed connections here and there,” he said. “Something you have to continue to work on.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid took responsibility for the sloppiness on offense, which resulted in just 226 yards passing and 316 of total offense. But much like Kelce, who hyperextended his knee in practice Tuesday and was made inactive after testing before the game, Reid was standing on the sideline and had no bearing on whether passes were caught or not.
“No excuses at all. We've got guys that can play,” Reid said. “We were right there to take care of business, and you know, they got us on special teams and continued a drive and they got us on the tipped ball. It's unusual for the guys to drop the ball. That is not what I've seen from that. You do that — you take care of business here — you're all right.”
Indeed, the Chiefs had a chance to rescue victory from defeat and made it a true celebration of their Super Bowl title.
The Lions pulled ahead on David Montgomery's touchdown run with 5:05 left, and the Chiefs took over after a touchback on the kickoff. Two strong runs set up third-and-1, but rather than run straight-ahead or call a quarterback sneak, the Chiefs tried some trickery by having tight end Blake Bell take a direct snap and hand it off to Rice on an end-around.
He was stuffed for a loss and the Lions took over on downs.
Even without All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones, who is in the midst of a holdout, the Chiefs defense continued to make plays in an attempt to bail out the offense — a bizarre turn of events, given it is usually the other way around in Kansas City.
The Lions got a big early gain from Jahmyr Gibbs but then stalled near midfield, and gambling Lions coach Dan Campbell decided to go for it on fourth down. Chiefs safety Justin Reid snuck up to the line of scrimmage, and when quarterback Jared Goff tried to throw downfield, he jumped into the passing lane and batted it down.
Chiefs fans no doubt sensed victory at that point: Mahomes had the ball back with 2:30 to go, the Chiefs had big-legged kicker Harrison Butker awaiting on the sideline, and they had seen the Chiefs rally in the final minutes so many times.
This time was different. And it was more dropped passes, along with some penalties, that proved to be the problem.
On first down at the Chiefs 45, Mahomes saw Toney coming free deep down field, and his pass hit him right in the hands. But like so many other times Thursday night, it bounced off Toney for an incompletion, when a reception would have easily gotten Butker within range of a potential winning field goal.
Now facing second down, Mahomes again dropped back and saw Moore coming loose across the middle, and he also dropped the pass. But making matters worse, left tackle Donovan Smith was called for holding, pushing Kansas City back.
On third-and-20, and with time starting to become a problem, Moore dropped another pass that would have set up a third-and-manageable situation. Mahomes threw an incompletion on the ensuing play, and right tackle Jawaan Taylor was called for a false start to make it fourth-and-25 with just over 2 minutes left in the game.
Andy Reid decided to go for it, rather than use all three of his timeouts to make a defensive stop.
That pass by Mahomes also fell incomplete.
By the time Montgomery churned forward for a first down, the Chiefs had used up those timeouts, and all the Lions had to do was kneel the ball to snap their eight-game winning streak in season openers.
“It's unusual for us to drop that many passes anywhere, any time, so we'll go back and work on that,” Reid said. “You got to take care of business and these guys know that, so we'll fix it.”