The Kansas City Chiefs have turned the tides.
To Sunday’s game vs. the Las Vegas Raiders, they came in having had no scores in the second half in their past three outings, with an NFL-low 5.3 points in that half.
“We’re kind of shooting ourselves in the foot,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said. “We’ve all got to pick it up a notch there in the second half.”
In their 31-17 win against the Raiders, the Chiefs elevated their game after halftime, scoring 17 points in the second half.
In the fourth quarter—the stanza where they had only one touchdown all season prior to Sunday—they secured 10 points.
Running back Isiah Pacheco, a 2022 seventh-round pick, who continues to add significant value on his four-year, $3.7 million contract, broke the streak.
Both Reid and Mahomes emphasized how crucial Pacheco’s score was. It not only gave the Chiefs their first lead of a 14-14 game but also their first points of the second half since Oct. 22.
Pacheco had that one-yard touchdown less than five minutes into the third quarter to cap a drive in which he had 34 total yards on six touches.
“He ran really hard,” Reid said.
Rookie Rashee Rice ran hard too. He led all receivers in the game with 107 yards.
And three plays into the fourth quarter, Rice gave the Chiefs their second touchdown of the second half, scoring from 39 yards out while recording more than 30 yards of it after the catch.
The 2023 second-round pick demonstrated his YAC ability and his growing rapport with his star quarterback.
“We’ve only scratched the surface,” Mahomes said. “He’s going to be a great receiver in this league.”
Although the Chiefs broke their second-half offensive funk, their struggles came early instead.
During a scoreless first quarter, they ran just four offensive plays and totaled just 11 yards.
As a result they trailed the Raiders 14-0.
“They got up on us quick,” Mahomes said.
But in the second half, Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones said they eliminated the mental errors and improved their tackling.
That led to a Chiefs comeback that was reminiscent of last year’s first contest against the Raiders. Las Vegas led 17-0 in Week Five of 2022 before losing 30-29.
Heading into this year’s first contest against the Raiders, Mahomes stressed the need to improve fundamentals to avoid a second-half lapse.
He said he did a better job of taking the checkdown plays when deep ones weren’t available and praised the offense’s ability to show better fortitude when it is no longer operating off the opening script of 15 plays.
“In the second half, it comes down to who wants it more,” Mahomes said. “The guys did a great job of that today.”
Indeed, they scored their first points of their last 17 second-half drives.
Kansas City broke one streak, but it extended another.
They are now 4-0 at Allegiant Stadium. That is not only the home of the Raiders but also Super Bowl LVIII.
That destination looks much more likely if the Chiefs offense can use Sunday’s victory as a springboard to improve its second-half play.
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