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Chiefs lose to Chargers 30-24: Insta-reaction as Kansas City turns ball over four times

Kansas City Star logo Kansas City Star 9/27/2021 Sam Mellinger, The Kansas City Star
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams catches the ball for a touchdown ahead of Kansas City Chiefs free safety Tyrann Mathieu at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, September 26, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. © Nick Tre. Smith/The Kansas City Star/TNS Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams catches the ball for a touchdown ahead of Kansas City Chiefs free safety Tyrann Mathieu at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, September 26, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — They spend a lot of time here talking about the noise. Arrowhead Stadium is the loudest place in the NFL, and whether you believe it or not, you can buy a T-shirt that says so.

Normally, that noise is deafening. It leaves the ears throbbing and the chest exhausted. It is occasionally not safe for children.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against the Los Angeles Chargers in the third quarter at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, September 26, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. © Jill Toyoshiba/The Kansas City Star/TNS Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against the Los Angeles Chargers in the third quarter at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, September 26, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Here’s a different kind of noise: the Chiefs being booed at home.

It happened at least twice in a 30-24 loss to the Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, a game that leaves the five-time defending AFC West champions in the disorienting position of last place.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill was on the ground after Los Angeles Chargers defensive back Tevaughn Campbell punched the ball out of his hands, which was then picked up by Chargers cornerback Michael Davis in the first quarter at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, September 26, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. © Jill Toyoshiba/The Kansas City Star/TNS Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill was on the ground after Los Angeles Chargers defensive back Tevaughn Campbell punched the ball out of his hands, which was then picked up by Chargers cornerback Michael Davis in the first quarter at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, September 26, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri.

There will be overreactions, because that’s what we do, but we’re three games into a season in which the Chiefs have labeled themselves as inconsistent and too often sloppy.

The Chiefs will always be among the NFL’s best teams as long as Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu remain both employed and in their primes. They can stay sloppy and still be a playoff team. The NFL loves its parity, but star power like that is the antidote.

The playoffs have not been the goal for years. Since even before Mahomes got here, actually. The Super Bowl is the goal, and we’ve seen enough now to know the Chiefs are not a Super Bowl winner right now, not like this, not with a defense regularly missing coverages and an offense that’s developed a habit of making mistakes.

The only thing wilder than the problems snowballing is that the Chiefs are still somehow talented enough to be close.

Complain if you want about a critical fourth down pass interference penalty against DeAndre Baker, but even without that the Chiefs made enough mistakes that they deserved to lose.

They turned it over on each of their first three possessions, including an interception that bounced off a wide open receiver’s shoulder pads. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Tyreek Hill each fumbled, the defense remains broken in the red zone, and the Chargers’ pass rush did a much better job bothering Mahomes than the Chiefs did to Justin Herbert.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marcus Kemp watches as Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. intercepts a pass that slipped through Kemp's hands in the first quarter at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, September 26, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. © Jill Toyoshiba/The Kansas City Star/TNS Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marcus Kemp watches as Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. intercepts a pass that slipped through Kemp's hands in the first quarter at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, September 26, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri.

These things are hard to measure, and it’s true that without a fluky interception that bounced off a wide open receiver’s shoulder pads the first half may have played out differently. But there are no ifs in football, and it was probably the worst the offense has looked in a half since at least the 2018 AFC Championship Game.

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throws in the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, September 26, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. © Jill Toyoshiba/The Kansas City Star/TNS Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throws in the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, September 26, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri.

The turnovers were disastrous. Three straight. Mercy. But even on their two other first half drives the Chiefs were a jumbled mess that was broken up too infrequently by positive plays.

Mahomes is very obviously still adjusting to the new offensive line, and the line to him. His tendency to not trust protection is often covered by his supernatural talents, but there are also times it kills plays before they have a chance. He just looks uncomfortable on too many drop backs, and nothing around him works without his comfort.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes attempts to bypass Los Angeles Chargers outside linebacker Kyzir White at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, September 26, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. © Nick Tre. Smith/The Kansas City Star/TNS Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes attempts to bypass Los Angeles Chargers outside linebacker Kyzir White at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, September 26, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri.

The problems will be debated and studied and screamed about all week, and as Andy Reid likes to say, this group wins together and it loses together. There isn’t anyone on the team above criticism right now, or who can’t easily find some ways they need to get better.

The whole thing is disjointed. They are playing what might be described as the opposite of complementary football right now, with one mistake or one position group seemingly with the knack for making the exact wrong mistake at the exact wrong moment.

This group has earned the benefit of the doubt. This core has played in three straight AFC Championship Games and two straight Super Bowls. Every problem they have is magnified by most of their games being the opponent’s Super Bowl, but the Chiefs need to get to a place where they see that as a feature and not a flaw.

After making a catch, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce runs for a first down in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, September 26, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. © Jill Toyoshiba/The Kansas City Star/TNS After making a catch, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce runs for a first down in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, September 26, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri.

These issues would be there even with the team winning. The issues will prevent the Chiefs from winning playoff games, if they get there. The season’s first crisis came earlier than anyone could have expected.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is stopped by a host of Los Angeles Chargers defenders at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, September 26, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. © Nick Tre. Smith/The Kansas City Star/TNS Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is stopped by a host of Los Angeles Chargers defenders at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, September 26, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Time to see if they have enough to answer.

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