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Kareem Hunt's slump has more to do with teammates than the running back

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Berry shocked at Hunt's down week against Cowboys (0:47)

Matthew Berry says he is surprised that Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt didn't get more carries against the Cowboys. (0:47)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- No game better illustrates the reasons for Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt's recent slump than last week's 28-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Hunt was first hit by the Cowboys in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage on five of his nine carries. The rookie had a total of 5 yards on those carries.

Hunt was able to make it past the line of scrimmage on his other four carries, and with the better blocking he was able to gain 32 yards.

Hunt is still producing for the Chiefs when things around him are working. His slump is more a product of what’s going on around him.

“I really don’t think that you can put that on Kareem," assistant head coach Brad Childress said. “I think we take it more as a coaching staff, the guys in front of him [offensive linemen] take it. Some days like the game [against the Cowboys] got a little left-handed where you couldn’t use the run as much as you would’ve liked to have used it.

"But I don’t think it’s for a lack of anything that he’s doing. You still see him on the second level with the ball and he’s catching the checkdowns, knocking people down for 11 yards. And when we did get him clean at the second level, he was able to get a [19-yard] run."

The Chiefs need to fix the problem because their success is clearly tied to that of Hunt. In Kansas City’s first five games, all wins for the Chiefs, Hunt averaged 122 yards rushing and scored six touchdowns, including two as a receiver.

He has an average of 47 rushing yards per game and no touchdowns over the past four games. The Chiefs lost three of the four.

Hunt still leads the NFL in rushing with 800 yards, but his once-expansive lead is down to 17 yards over Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott and 40 over Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell. Hunt could fall behind this weekend with the Chiefs on their bye.

“It’s not so much that teams have adjusted to him," running backs coach Eric Bieniemy said. "This is the NFL. Each and every week you’re going to be presented with a different challenge. The Dallas Cowboys played pretty good defense [and] did a great job of shutting us down.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about what they do. It’s how well we do a better job of executing our skills and coming out and doing the little things that are going to help us to be better. That’s one thing that we have to do. We have to make sure that we’re taking a look from within and make sure that we’re doing everything possible to help us to find a way to drag ourselves across the finish line on the right end of it."

The Chiefs can’t be expected to provide Hunt with a huge hole every time they give him the ball. Part of his job is to break tackles and gain yards after being hit.

Hunt is still doing those things well. He has 42 broken tackles as a rusher, according to Pro Football Focus. That’s the most for a running back in the NFL.

Hunt is third in the NFL in yards after contact, close behind Elliott and Bell. He had 24 of his 37 yards against the Cowboys after first contact.

The Chiefs haven’t provided him as much room to work with recently. Hunt had 376 yards before first contact in the first five games, or 3.9 yards per carry. He had 77 yards before first contact in the past four, an average of 1.3 yards per carry.

Against the Cowboys, the Chiefs had their starting offensive line intact for the first time since early in the season. Center Mitch Morse missed five games and guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif sat out four due to injuries.

The Chiefs also can give Hunt more help by not giving up on him too early. His three longest runs against the Cowboys were his last three. He never got the ball as a runner after the Chiefs took a 17-14 lead in the third quarter.

“That’s our job, scheming that thing out, putting the line in the right place and him in the right place," Childress said. “We need to work harder doing that."