KANSAS CITY -- The Kansas City Chiefs have lost two of their past three games and quite easily could have lost all of them.
Oddly enough, their offense has been the biggest problem.
That prolific aerial attack led by league MVP Patrick Mahomes and All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce has been abysmal during a month-long swoon, and perhaps never worse than it was Monday night.
Kansas City was shut out in the second half for the third straight game, allowing the Philadelphia Eagles to rally for a 21-17 victory in their Super Bowl rematch.
“It’s penalties. Miscues. We’ve got to find ways to score,” said Mahomes, who threw for just 177 yards and two touchdowns with a pick in the end zone. “The defense is playing great football. Has been all year. On offense, we’ve got to find ways to finish.”
The Chiefs have scored 53 points in the second half of games this season, and their three second-half shutouts are tied for the most in the NFL all season. They had five drops against Philadelphia and their 26 dropped passes this season are also the worst in the league. And then there were the penalties, which continued to derail second-half drives.
How did the Eagles shut them down? By taking the exact opposite approach of most teams.
Andy Reid’s high-flying offense has been slowed the past few years by teams playing deep safeties, forcing Mahomes to check down to running backs and tight ends underneath the coverage. But after Isiah Pacheco ran for 66 yards in the first half Monday night, the Eagles began bringing their defensive backs closer to the line of scrimmage and daring Kansas City to throw.
“We didn’t answer the bell,” Mahomes said. “I didn’t make good enough passes in certain situations and we have to prove we can do both. It can’t be just running. It can’t be just passing. We have to prove we can do both.”
Mahomes made enough good passes, though. His wide receivers just didn’t catch them. Marquez Valdes-Scantling let a would-be 51-yard go-ahead score go right through his hands in the final minutes, and Justin Watson dropped a fourth down throw a few moments later that would have kept the Chiefs’ comeback hopes alive.
“Our defense, week-in, week-out has shown up. It makes it easier as an offense,” Watson said, “but we’ve still got to go down there and score points. We can’t expect them to do everything. Like I said, the expectation is we score every time we have it. We’ll have to go back on film and see (what happened) on the drives we didn’t.”
• What’s working: The Chiefs built their 17-7 halftime lead thanks largely to the hard running of Pacheco, whose 66 yards helped to keep the potent Philadelphia offense off the field. He only had seven carries in the second half but finished with 89 yards for a 4.7-yard average, and Pacheco now has averaged at least 4.1 yards per attempt each of his past three games.
• What needs work: The easy answer is the offense, which encompasses penalties, dropped passes and missed assignments. But the Chiefs also got poor performances from punter Tommy Townsend and his coverage unit, which failed to down his best attempt inside the 2-yard line. The Eagles used the touchback to launch their go-ahead touchdown drive.
• Stock up: Second-year CB Trent McDuffie has become one of the NFL’s best and most versatile defenders, and he probably is not getting the league-wide credit he deserves. He played a big part in holding Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown to one catch for 8 yards when he was in pass coverage, and he was dominant on the blitz, picking up a pair of sacks and forcing a fumble.
• Stock down: WRs Kadarius Toney, whom the Chiefs traded for last season, and Mecole Hardman, who they brought back in a trade this season, have hardly made their deals pay off. Both finished with two catches for 12 yards against the Eagles, though Toney was at least able to make some plays as a punt returner.
• Injuries: Hardman left with a thumb injury in the first quarter Monday night but finished the game.
• Key number: 1 -- The number of times the Chiefs allowed Philadelphia into the red zone. That drive resulted in the decisive touchdown.
• Next steps: The Chiefs visit the Raiders next Sunday for the first of their two games this season.