Here are some quick notes about the Chiefs’ loss to the Lions
By Matt McMullen, Chiefs Reporter
The Kansas City Chiefs fell to the Detroit Lions, 21-20, in what turned out to be a defensive struggle on Thursday night to kick off the regular season.
Here are some quick notes from the loss.
1. Despite the result, the defense put together a strong overall performance on Thursday.
The Chiefs’ defense consistently kept Kansas City in the game, holding Detroit to just 5-of-15 on third down while forcing four three-and-outs. Kansas City also tallied a red zone takeaway when cornerback Trent McDuffie forced a fumble on a tackle and safety Bryan Cook subsequently recovered it.
Additionally, Kansas City came up clutch with what could have been a game-altering play when the defense stopped Detroit on a short fourth-down attempt late in the game. Facing a 4th-and-2 at the Chiefs’ 45-yard line with two minutes and 33 seconds left in the contest, the Lions elected to go for it in an effort to put the game away. Safety Justin Reid proceeded to swat away Lions’ quarterback Jared Goff’s pass, however, flipping possession back over to the Chiefs. Reid’s play put Kansas City in position for a potential game-winning drive, but the offense simply couldn’t get going, and the Lions escaped with the victory.
In terms of the pass-rush, the Chiefs recorded 10 pressures on Goff during the game. Defensive end George Karlaftis, in particular, tallied a team-leading three pressures. To Goff’s credit, the veteran quarterback was impressive when pressured throughout the game, completing 6-of-9 passes for 72 yards.
2. Rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice’s first career reception was a big one.
Rice, who joined the Chiefs as a second-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, hauled in a 1-yard touchdown grab on Kansas City’s second possession. The score marked the first catch of Rice’s career. Rice finished the game with three grabs for 29 yards and a touchdown.
He was one of 11 players to catch a pass for the Chiefs on Thursday, joining wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (2 catches for 48 yards), wide receiver Justin Watson (2 catches for 45 yards), tailback Isiah Pacheco (4 catches for 31 yards), tight end Noah Gray (3 catches for 31 yards), tight end Blake Bell (2 catches for 12 yards), tailback Jerick McKinnon (1 catch for 10 yards), tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire (1 catch for 7 yards), wide receiver Richie James (1 catch for 6 yards), wide receiver Justyn Ross (1 catch for 6 yards) and wide receiver Kadarius Toney (1 catch for 1 yard).
That tally of 11 players with a catch tied the mark for the most in a single game for Kansas City since quarterback Patrick Mahomes became the starter in 2018, matching an output achieved twice before.
3. The Chiefs had opportunities to put the game away on Thursday.
The final result doesn’t show it, but the Chiefs had several chances to amass a two-score lead throughout the second half. Unfortunately for Kansas City, the Chiefs weren’t able to seize those opportunities and allowed Detroit to remain in the game.
Specifically, the Chiefs carried significant momentum into halftime when Patrick Mahomes engineered an 82-yard scoring drive in just one minute and 28 seconds during the closing moments of the second quarter. The score put Kansas City in front by a touchdown at the break, and with the Chiefs set to receive the opening kickoff of the third quarter, Kansas City had a chance to take a double-digit lead before the Lions possessed the football again.
The Chiefs punted on that opening possession though, and while Kansas City’s defense netted a quick stop themselves, the Lions picked off a deflected pass on the Chiefs’ next series and returned it for a game-tying touchdown.
Additionally, Kansas City later drove deep into Lions’ territory on two occasions as the game went on, but ultimately came away with just a field goal on each.
“We did have some good plays in there, but it’s a disappointing loss,” said Head Coach Andy Reid. “[That’s] a good football team that we lost to. We’ve got to play better, and we’ve got to coach better, so that’s what we’ll do.”
4. Uncharacteristic mistakes hurt the Chiefs on Thursday.
A handful of mistakes hindered the Chiefs throughout the second half of Thursday’s game, including several dropped passes in critical moments. Mahomes’ interception early in the third quarter, for example, was the result of a bobble that sent the football into the arms of Lions’ defensive back Brian Branch.
While the drops contributed to the Chiefs’ loss on Thursday, however, it’s worth pointing out that the offensive operation was consistently putting Kansas City’s pass-catchers in position to make plays. The results were frustrating in this particular instance, but it’s a fixable issue that is unlikely to persist as long as it’s addressed.
“I think they know that I’m going to keep firing it,” Mahomes said. “We’ll try to get it fixed this next week and correct it going into next game.”
5. To their credit, the Lions made plays to win the game.
The Chiefs’ miscues provided the Lions with plenty of chances to seize the game, and to their credit, they ultimately made more plays than Kansas City did on Thursday night. For starters, Detroit successfully executed a fake punt from its own 17-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. That series – which began as an apparent three-and-out – resulted in a touchdown.
It marked the only offensive points for Detroit until late in the fourth quarter, but when trailing by six points and facing a long third down in their own territory early in the fourth quarter, Goff found wide receiver Josh Reynolds for 18 yards to move the chains. This was truly one of the plays of the game, as a punt game would have provided the Chiefs with another chance to extend their lead. Instead, Detroit marched down the field and punched in the go-ahead touchdown.
It all wrapped up into a tough loss for Kansas City, but while it wasn’t how the Chiefs wanted to start the season, the important thing is that they learn from and correct Thursday’s mistakes moving forward.