Through the first five games of the season the Chiefs couldn't do much wrong, especially on offense where Alex Smith was having a legit MVP campaign and rookie Kareem Hunt was running through defenses like they were cardboard cutouts. Both go a long way in explaining why the passing and rushing attacks were the league's best. That changed Sunday against the Steelers, whose defense is short on experience but long on speed, athleticism and physicality.
And any advantage the Chiefs might have when it comes to experience was overshadowed by coach Andy Reid's Achilles heel: poor game management, which made an appearance early in the fourth quarter with Kansas City trailing 12-3 and facing a fourth-and-2 from Pittsburgh's 4-yard line. Either a touchdown or a field goal make it a one-score game so there's no good explanation for going for it on fourth down, especially with more than a yard to go.
The Chiefs failed to convert and came away with no points. A series later they got into the end zone and cut the lead to 12-10 (Kansas City could have been leading 13-12) before eventually losing 19-10. After the game, Reid tried his best to explain why he didn't kick the field goal.
"I don't worry about the questions that will be asked afterwards; I do what my gut tells me to do," Reid said, via the Kansas City Star. "I thought that was the right thing to do. Again, we hadn't been down there or really moved the ball too much. If nothing else it backs them up and gives us an opportunity to come back and win the game. Which we did. We had an opportunity there to win the game. So these are the things I'm thinking about. I'm preaching to the team to stay aggressive without being stupid."
Reid is right -- the Chiefs had a chance to win the game, but they would have led with just over three minutes to go if they had kicked the field goal. In the end, maybe it didn't matter -- Antonio Brown did this on the Steelers' very next drive:
"It didn't work out, so hindsight ends up being that you wish you would have kicked it," Reid said.
The good news is that the Chiefs are 5-1 and one of the NFL's best teams. The bad news is that there's always the concern that come January, Reid's in-game gut decisions could be the difference between a playoff win or loss.