KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The sting of Thursday night’s defeat isn’t likely to linger too long.
“We’ve got to learn from what happened here, and then you move on,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters during a Friday morning conference call. “That’s just how this league works. There are some definite things we can learn from this and make us a better team. We need to make sure we do that though.”
That is a standard response from the Chiefs head coach following a loss, but he is absolutely correct in this situation.
The Chiefs (7-4) don’t have time to wallow in self-pity from losing 24-20 to the previous winless Oakland Raiders with an upcoming AFC West showdown against the Denver Broncos in Week 13.
And an area arguably demanding Reid’s full attention to improve from a Thursday night full of errors surrounds the Chiefs’ slow start.
The Chiefs went three-and-out on the first two possessions and recorded a dismal 1-of-9 on third downs in the first two quarters en route to a 14-3 halftime deficit. The Chiefs finished the game 2-of-14 (14 percent) on converting third downs.
“You’d love to start fast,” quarterback Alex Smith told reporters after Thursday’s game. “We talk about that all the time. It’s a matter of going out there and doing it. I think really, we look back, especially those first couple of series before it (rain) started coming down. We lacked execution. We put ourselves in some bad spots, and didn’t convert on third downs.”
Tight end Travis Kelce agreed.
“We’ve got to come out fast and be on our Ps and Qs,” Kelce told reporters in the postgame locker room. “No penalties, catching the ball, running the routes to win, things like that on offense. We’ll look at the film and see what we need to do.”
Reid, for his part, continued to stress the importance of putting his players in a good position to execute the play calls as a way to combat sluggish starts on both sides of the ball.
The Chiefs also dealt with a slow start two weeks ago against the Buffalo Bills in a game that saw the Bills take a 10-3 halftime lead.
“There are things you can do as a coach with play calls, and then the guys have to execute,” Reid said. “We’re all in it together that way. We weren’t as well coordinated as we needed to be yesterday (Thursday).”
The Chiefs, of course, can use the next eight days as a mini-bye week to re-energize in addition to taking lessons learned from Week 12.
The time off will also allow injured players such as cornerbacks Jamell Fleming (hamstring) and Chris Owens (knee), and wide receivers Donnie Avery (groin) extra days to get better to boost availability for Week 13.
“We have a little time here to regroup and get healthy,” Smith said Thursday night. “We come back home, and then we’ve got another big division game, and we are about to handle this the right way.”
Smith said he and his teammates will build from Thursday night, another standard response to a loss.
But it’s not like the Chiefs have much choice given the tightening playoff chase with each passing week.
It’s either dwell on the past or shift gears and focus on the upcoming opponent.
“You only got two choices to be able to handle something like this,” Smith said. “We can regroup and get it together. We still got a lot in front of us.”