KANSAS CITY -- Perhaps the Kansas City Chiefs finally solved their second-half woes Sunday against the Raiders in Las Vegas.
Or maybe they just did what Andy Reid has been imploring them to do for the past month.
Despite falling behind by two touchdowns early, the Chiefs were able to rally for a 31-17 win largely because they committed just four penalties and were turnover-free for the first time since Week 5 and the second time all season. The result was an offense led by Patrick Mahomes that started to resemble their high-scoring teams of the past five years.
“We’ve shown that we can move the ball,” Mahomes said, “but penalties and drops, and me not getting to the right guy at the right time (were problems). … Little things have kind of stalled our drives, but we got to it. Kind of went back to fundamentals this week, and we kept pressing and pushing, and we’re going to try to keep going the rest of the season.”
While the offense finally came online, the defense continued to do its thing. Steve Spagnuolo’s bunch only allowed a field goal after those two early touchdowns, keeping intact its streak of allowing 24 points or fewer in every game.
“We knew our defense would do a good job of maintaining and keeping us around,” Mahomes said.
The Chiefs still have not put a complete game together since Week 3 against Chicago, but the fact their offense ended a three-week streak of second-half shutouts was a step in the right direction.
And making it even more impressive is the fact Kansas City turned things around on a short week -- after an emotional Monday night loss to Philadelphia in their Super Bowl rematch -- while on the road against a divisional rival with a holiday thrown into the mix.
That kind of focus is another hallmark of Chiefs teams the past few years.
“We went down 14 points. It’s a tough thing to come back on that, but our guys battled back and I’m proud of it,” Reid said. “We started off a little bit slow and the guys just started making plays and really worked through their fundamentals.”
• What’s working: The Chiefs defense has excelled at bringing pressure from the secondary, particularly with second-year pro Trent McDuffie, who had two sacks last week against the Eagles. On Sunday, his blitz and batted pass in the fourth quarter stalled the Raiders’ drive in Kansas City territory, helping the Chiefs defense to preserve the victory.
• What’s not: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who dropped a potential winning TD pass a week ago, continued to have almost no positive impact on the Kansas City offense.
Sure, he helped the running game with his blocking, but he had one catch for the loss of a yard against the Raiders, and he has only had more than two catches in a game once: three against the Chargers.
• Stock up: Rashee Rice has become the go-to wide receiver in the Kansas City passing game. Not only did he catch a game-high eight passes for 107 yards and a score, he did it in a variety of ways: The second-round pick showed an ability to track the deep ball, made a highlight-reel grab with a defender tightly guarding him, and turned a short pass into a long touchdown reception.
• Stock down: WR Mecole Hardman was inactive with a thumb injury after playing poorly in the four games since the Jets traded him back to Kansas City. Throw in the return of WR Richie James from a knee injury, and his success in the return game, and it is difficult to see where Hardman will make an impact going forward.
• Injuries: RB Jerick McKinnon was inactive with a groin injury. WR Skyy Moore hurt his knee, LT Donovan Smith tweaked his neck and RG Trey Smith hurt his foot, but Reid said none of those injuries was serious.
• Key number: 125 -- Reid became the career regular-season wins leader in Kansas City, breaking a tie with Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram. Reid is also the winningest coach in Philadelphia history, and the only one to hold that title with two franchises.
• Next step: The Chiefs visit the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night.