KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Since Andy Reid arrived as the head coach and Alex Smith as quarterback last year, the Kansas City Chiefs are 0-4 when they needed a late touchdown to win a game. They are 0-2 in those situations this season, failing to score late in last month’s game in Denver and then again in their most recent game at San Francisco.
The solution on the surface might seem obvious. The Chiefs need to find a new coach and a new quarterback.
While that’s a bit drastic, both Reid and Smith share some blame in the matter. Reid, as the play-caller, can do better than what he dialed up in the loss to the Broncos. The Chiefs had gotten the ball for the last time at their 34 with 3:20 remaining, down 24-17. They quickly moved to the Denver 9, where they had a first and goal with 1:45 left.
So far, so good. The situation at this point becomes tricky for Reid and the Chiefs because there is danger in getting the touchdown too quickly and leaving ample time for Peyton Manning and the Broncos to counter.
But the Chiefs were still far too conservative, as if not scoring the touchdown at all was an acceptable outcome. Their next three plays consisted of a short pass to Donnie Avery and two Knile Davis runs. The only time the Chiefs took a shot in the end zone was on fourth down and then Smith’s rushed throw for Dwayne Bowe was deflected at the line and never had a chance.
“I’ve got to make sure I’m dialing up better plays there,’’ Reid said. “The bottom line is we’ve got to finish when we’re put in those positions. We can obviously do better.’’
The Chiefs, down 22-17 with 2:12 to go, again needed a touchdown late in the game to beat the 49ers two weeks ago. From the Kansas City 20, the Chiefs ran two plays, an incomplete pass intended for A.J. Jenkins and an interception where Smith tried to squeeze a difficult and delicate throw to Anthony Fasano in between two defenders.
The interception smacked of desperation, the kind of throw Smith might have needed to try on fourth down, but not second down.
Smith this week acknowledged as much.
“So much of the two-minute drill is about getting some completions, moving the chains early,’’ he said. “You can’t press. That’s the whole thing. Time is winding down, but sometimes the gut instinct is to press and that’s when mistakes happen. We probably did that a little bit, I probably did that a little bit instead of getting us going.
“We need to do a better job certainly.’’
He’s right about that, too. The Chiefs’ two victories this season have been comfortable by NFL standards, by 19 and 27 points. They won’t always have that luxury, and many times, they won’t even have a lead of any margin late in the game.
They’ll need some successful two-minute drills in order to be the team they want to be and, starting with Reid and Smith, the Chiefs have much to improve there.