It’s officially panic time for the Kansas City Chiefs after another lackluster offensive showing in a season full of them, this one coming on Christmas Day in a 20-14 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium.
The 14 points were a season-low for the Chiefs, and their fifth-fewest in a game started by Patrick Mahomes.
This wasn’t even a game where you can fully blame the wide receivers for letting Mahomes down. They certainly weren’t helping matters, but the two-time MVP had multiple mistakes in the game. One of them was a pick-six to Raiders cornerback Jack Jones in the second quarter.
That play came immediately after the Raiders defense returned a fumble for a touchdown when Andy Reid tried to get cute with his play-calling as the offense was deep in its own territory.
Kansas City’s best pass play of the game was arguably Tommy Townsend’s fake punt to Justin Watson on 4th-and-5 for 11 yards that set up a Harrison Butker field-goal attempt before halftime, but he wasn’t able to convert it.
Even when the play-calling was fine, Mahomes looked completely out of sorts. He had a moment in the fourth quarter when he double-clutched and tried to hit Noah Gray without stepping into the throw, but Tre’von Moehrig stepped in front and nearly picked it off.
The play was initially ruled an interception, but replay determined the ball moved when Moehrig hit the ground. The Chiefs got into the red zone on that same drive, but the possession ended on an incomplete pass to Rashee Rice in the end zone on 4th-and-goal.
There has been a feeling that the Chiefs would be fine by the time the playoffs started. We’ve all seen them figure things out during the regular season and get hot on the biggest stage possible.
But this season looks and feels different than even what happened during their brief lull in 2021. The receivers are providing no help, leading to Mahomes making mistakes that hasn’t happened since he was at Texas Tech.
The response from fans and analysts to this game is that Kansas City’s offense is broken with no clear signs of being fixed.
By the time the fourth quarter had started, Mahomes had covered 917 yards on runs and scrambles against the Raiders defense.
The Chiefs finally found the end zone for a second time when Mahomes hit Watson to cut the deficit to 20-14 with 2:42 remaining.
Unfortunately, the vaunted Kansas City defense couldn’t get a stop. Zamir White, who started in place of the injured Josh Jacobs, had runs of 43 and 15 yards to give the Raiders two first downs to seal the win.
White had 123 yards on 37 carries all season coming into Monday’s game. He carried the ball 22 times for 145 yards against the Chiefs, more than making up for a non-existent Raiders passing attack.
Aidan O’Connell finished 9-of-21 for 62 yards. He had zero passing yards after the first quarter in a game the Raiders won. All of those yards came on a single drive that took 15 plays and picked up 82 yards, leading to a Daniel Carlson field goal.
The Chiefs still haven’t locked up a playoff spot, though they don’t appear to be in danger of missing out on the postseason because the Denver Broncos have reverted to their losing ways after a hot stretch during the middle of the season.
But this is going to be the first time Mahomes and the Chiefs don’t have a first-round bye in the playoffs. The only time they weren’t the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs was in 2021, but they still got to host the AFC Championship Game because the Tennessee Titans lost in the divisional round.
Mahomes has proven himself to be capable of doing impossible things. This season, though, is starting to look like the Chiefs have too many flaws for even him to overcome.