KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Quarterback Alex Smith scampered 11 yards for a late first-half touchdown and Cairo Santos added a 22-yard field on the first possession of the game to give the Kansas City Chiefs a 10-9 halftime lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs defense yielded 23 yards to the Bucs, including 203 passing yards from Jameis Winston. But the defense held at the right times, keeping Tampa Bay out of the end zone.
Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston saw his first action of the season, starting the game and playing much of the first half. Houston played at his customary spot on the left side of the team’s defense while Dee Ford moved to the right side.
Smith and wide receiver Tyreek Hill combined for the big play of the first half, a 42-yard completion that setup the team’s only touchdown.
Smith finished the first half 10-of-13 passing for 110 yards. Spencer Ware leads the team in rushing with 9 carries for 46 yards, while Hill has three catches for 50 yards.
Convert third down
The Chiefs season-long offense woes has many causes, but failure on third down stands paramount. The team ranks 29th in the NFL in third-down conversion at a puny 34.7 percent. That stat regressed further in the first half, with the Chiefs just one for four on third down.
Different scenarios and situations ended without converting a first down. The Chiefs twice failed in short-yardage situations, with both one and two yards to go. The Chiefs also failed on a third-and-goal from the nine yard line.
Keep Kelce involved … in passing game
Tight end Travis Kelce jumped off to his customary hot start with three catches for 32 yards in the first quarter. But Kelce shows a tendency to fade away as the game progresses.
Kelce entered the game with 28 catches for 308 yards in the first half of games. But the tight end caught just 12 passes for 135 yards in the second half through the first nine games of the season. Once the game starts flowing and gets away from the opening script, Kelce slowly disappears from the game plan.
The Chiefs need to get the ball to Kelce more in the second half, but running the ball is not the answer. The jet sweep to Kelce on first and goal on the first drive doesn’t need to be in the team’s playbook any longer.
Kansas City finally converted a red zone trip into a touchdown late in the first quarter. Alex Smith scrambled 11 yards to put the team out front 10-6. That marked the team’s second touchdown in their last 32 offensive possessions. The Tampa Bay defense ranks among the bottom third of the league across the board, yielding 26.9 points per game.
The Chiefs should score against the Buccaneers defense, and they need to get touchdowns, not field goals.