We should have remembered that the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts only play weird games — especially when they’re in Indianapolis. This one was sloppy and poorly executed from the first punt to the clock management at the end. The Chiefs had so many opportunities to salt this one away and found incredible ways to botch them — especially in the all-important third phase.
Here are a few who stood out in a game that we soon hope to forget.
Note: Applying the labels “winners” and “losers” is not intended to be a judgment on the talent or character of any of these players. It’s just a simple way to grade their performance in a single game. No disrespect is intended.
Darius Harris: Thrust into action due to linebacker Willie Gay’s suspension, Harris had a pretty big game, leading the team with 13 tackles. Harris was strong against the run all afternoon, helping contain the Colts’ one true offensive weapon — running back Jonathan Taylor — to under 100 total yards. Kansas City fans should take some comfort in knowing the team has a potentially strong backup who can get this defense through three more games.
Nick Bolton: The best defensive player on the field was the man paired with Harris. Bolton was a monster against the Colts, showing he could be an effective blitzer with two sacks of Colts quarterback Matt Ryan. But his most impressive play might have been stopping Taylor in mid-air (and driving him back) on an important fourth-down play to give the Chiefs’ offense a chance.
L’Jarius Sneed: Seven tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery were a few of the stats Sneed racked up on Sunday. But he was inches away from a couple of other massive plays that could have completely changed the game. The first was on the strip-sack he caused. Sneed (and a couple of his teammates) had a chance to get to the football and potentially score. Then when he taste recover another fumble (caused by Carlos Dunlap), Sneed was a shoestring tackle away from returning it for six. It turned out that both of these plays set up the Kansas City offense to score, so neither play was a real blemish on Sneed’s excellent day. But those two plays — along with a diving attempt at a pass in the fourth quarter — would have put Sneed in weekly award territory.
JuJu Smith-Schuster: The team’s presumed No. 1 receiver caught five of eight targets for 89 yards. His fourth-quarter 53-yard catch-and-run was the longest offensive play of the day for either team. It was good to see quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the former Pittsburgh Steelers wideout build on their chemistry and confidence by moving the chains on a big play. Hopefully, it’s a sign of good things to come.
Skye Moore: Moore’s muffed punt turned a defensive three-and-out into an easy Indianapolis touchdown. On his next punt return, he chose not to field it inside the 10-yard line. The Colts downed it on the 1-foot line. That time, his play led to a three-and-out for the Kansas City offense. The rookie looked lost on punt returns, seemingly struggling to locate the football in the air (and on the ground). When a player has struggles like Moore did, head Andy Reid will typically try to get them more opportunities right away. It didn’t happen on Sunday. Maybe we’ll see that in Week 4.
Rashad Fenton: The Colts didn’t have that much success on offense — especially in the first half. But when they did complete a pass, it was often against the fourth-year cornerback. As well as the rest of the young Chiefs defense has played, it appears that Fenton might be the guy who gets picked on.
The entire special teams unit: Outside of a punt that they were able to down inside the 5-yard line, Dave Toub’s group did hardly anything right; Moore’s adventures returning punts were just the beginning. A missed extra point, a missed field goal, a botched fake field goal and a fumbled kickoff return were part of a day that featured bad decisions and poor execution. Given the roster spots and emphasis dedicated to Toub’s guys, there isn’t really any excuse for them to be this bad — even for one week.
The offensive line: Sure… Mahomes was only sacked once. But given the opponent, he was under duress wow too much It was the failure of the running game, however, that really stood out. Chiefs’ running backs combined for 29 rushing yards, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire somehow ending up with no yards at all — although he did have a rushing touchdown and some solid receiving work. This should have been an opponent that the Chiefs’ offensive line (and the entire team) could have handled. There were widespread problems in this game — and many of them started up front.