Third and ugh: Chiefs vow to fix short-yardage ills

While Kansas City has done enough to start 2-0, the Chiefs struggled converting in short-yardage situations last week in a squeaker over the Chargers. KC has vowed to reverse that trend.



September 23, 2022 - 3:10 PM

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is sacked by Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Drue Tranquill in the first quarter Thursday, September 15, 2022, at Arrowhead Stadium. Photo by Tammy Ljungblad / Kansas City Star

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs and Chargers were locked in a tie game early in the fourth quarter last Thursday, and Kansas City was facing fourth-and-goal with an opportunity to take its first lead of the game.

Rather than go for it, Chiefs coach Andy Reid sent in his field-goal unit.

Everything worked out in the end: The Chiefs took the lead on the chip-shot by fill-in kicker Matt Ammendola, rookie cornerback Jaylen Watson returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown on the ensuing drive, and Kansas City held on for a 27-24 victory in an important early season AFC West showdown.

Yet the conservative decision on the goal line left some head scratching inside Arrowhead Stadium, unless you consider what had transpired in the first three quarters.

One of the league’s prolific offenses, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, had faced third-and-short situations five times and converted just once.

“We can do better in that area,” Reid acknowledged ahead of a visit to Indianapolis on Sunday.

The question is how.

The Chiefs spent plenty of time working on short-yardage scenarios during training camp in St. Joseph, Missouri, and they dedicate time during practice each Thursday to them.

So it’s not as if Reid, whose penchant for throwing the ball all over the field is well known, has neglected a situation that seemingly demands old-school, smash-mouth football.

Perhaps it’s an attitude thing. Or poor play calls. Or the defense simply got ‘em on those plays.

“You try to see what went wrong, first of all,” Reid said, “whether it’s the call — whether I sent in the wrong thing at the wrong time — or there’s a mistake somewhere. We had a couple of mistakes in there. And then one of them where we didn’t have a mistake, the defense still had pretty good leverage on it.”

The only third-and-short the Chiefs converted last Sunday was their first, and they did it in the most blasé way possible, running 5-foot-11, 242-pound fullback Michael Burton up the middle for a first down.

It’s when the Chiefs got a little more exotic that things went haywire.

Isiah Pacheco was stopped on the next opportunity. Mahomes threw an incompletion on the next. And then Mahomes threw an underneath shovel-pass to Travis Kelce on third-and-goal — the play Reid referred to that was executed correctly but still failed, leading to the go-ahead field goal on fourth-and-goal.

Why not just run a tried-and-true sneak for those first downs?