Chiefs’ offensive line issues among lows from Sunday’s loss

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Dec 7, 2014; Glendale, AZ; Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell (93) sacks Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 7, 2014; Glendale, AZ; Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell (93) sacks Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs dropped a third straight game Sunday and sit on a 7-6 record after losing 17-14 to the Arizona Cardinals.

It wasn’t long ago Kansas City appeared in the driver’s seat for a playoff berth after Week 11’s win against the Super Bowl defending champion Seattle Seahawks.

But Sunday’s loss cast doubt over the team’s postseason chances with three games to go.

The gravity of the situation strikes home after the Chiefs were one of the hottest teams in the league from Weeks 3-11, a span when Kansas City won seven of eight games.

Quarterback Alex Smith didn’t want to dwell on the playoffs picture after Sunday’s game, but he knows the only way to get back on track doesn’t involve another loss.

“We got to get a win this next week,” Smith told reporters during his postgame media session. “We got to rebound from this and get a W. I don’t know all the scenarios and really don’t care. It’s not our deal. So much of that stuff is out of our control. We do control this next week and who we’re playing and how we go play, and how we go prepare, so we really need to focus on that.”

The Chiefs return to Arrowhead Stadium to host the Oakland Raiders, a team that started the Chiefs’ losing streak in Week 12.

So while the Chiefs hope for a rebound in Week 15, the spotlight inevitably falls on five lows and highs from Sunday’s game.

LOWS

• Arizona sacked quarterback Alex Smith five times Sunday, boosting his times sacked total in the last two games to 11. Smith has also endured a beating during the three-game losing streak, hitting the ground in the arms of defenders a total of 13 times during that span. Smith has been sacked 38 times on the season. Speaking of sacks, starting left guard Mike McGlynn looked good early on a pulling block to help seal the right edge on a Jamaal Charles run, and then the wheels fell off. McGlynn was beat twice for sacks, the first from defensive lineman Calais Campbell and the second from Frostee Rucker.

• The Cardinals entered Week 14 with the 31st ranked running game, averaging 74.8 yards per game. The Chiefs allowed the Cardinals to gain 141 yards, anchored by running back Kerwynn Williams’ 100-yard effort. Arizona elevated Williams from the practice squad two days before the game. The Chiefs run defense, which should’ve received a boost with Joe Mays in the starting lineup Sunday, has surrendered a whopping 738 yards rushing in the last four games.

• What do cornerbacks Sean Smith and Phillip Gaines, and inside linebacker Josh Mauga have in common? Each had what appeared to be easy interceptions fall through their hands. The Chiefs once had every bounce go their way during a five-game winning streak, but now can’t afford to make these mistakes.

• Two questionable penalties aside, the Chiefs were penalized nine times for 75 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals. Chiefs coach Andy Reid summed it up best during his postgame media session. “Nine penalties are absolutely ridiculous for a football team and everything else that went with it,” Reid said. “These are fixable things. We just got to put our nose to the grinder and get it done.”

• Kansas City’s offense started hot when compared to the previous two games, and appeared to establish rhythm, evidenced by the ability to convert on third down. The Chiefs were 3-of-4 on third down efficiency in the first half, leading to a 14-6 lead. The Chiefs then went 3-of-10 in the second half as the offense had no answer for the Cardinals stacking the box against the run and daring the Chiefs to throw.

HIGHS

• The Cardinals paid tribute to Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry by wearing No. 29 white t-shirts on the field during pregame warm-ups. The Cardinals also donated $10,000 to the Eric Berry Foundation. The Chiefs placed Eric Berry on the non-football injury list on Nov. 24 after a mass was found in his chest. He flew to Atlanta shortly thereafter to be tested for lymphoma. Test results are pending.

• Running back Jamaal Charles continues to prove he is one of the league’s toughest players. Charles left the game briefly with an ankle injury that appeared worse than it turned out. The All-Pro running back was bent backward in a pile and was taken to the locker room. He eventually returned and finished the game with 111 yards (91 rushing) and two touchdowns.

• Outside linebacker Justin Houston notched two sacks, adding to his league-leading total of 16. Houston also notched a forced fumble on Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton, giving Houston his third forced fumble on the season. Houston, who is playing the 2014 season in the final year of his contract, finished the game with three solo tackles, the forced fumble and two quarterback pressures. The latter adds to his season total of 19 quarterback pressures, which ties a career-high.

• Rookie wide receiver Albert Wilson drew the start Sunday over Donnie Avery at the split end position and established career highs in catches (four) and yards receiving (53) on eight targets.

• Tight end Travis Kelce recorded seven catches for 110 yards on nine targets. Sunday marked the second-year pro’s first career 100-yard receiving effort.