The Chiefs might have finally lost one guy too many.
And the one who finished the game but isn’t 100 percent is the bigger issue.
With quarterback Patrick Mahomes limping on a bad left ankle, the Chiefs lost for the first time this season, with the Colts stealing a 19-13 win on the road.
After getting rolled up on by a teammate, Mahomes was no longer the same, unable to make plays on the move the way he did early in the night.
Without that element, and without injured wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins and seemingly half the defense, the Chiefs weren’t able to play the kind of dynamic football we’re used to seeing.
With time and a chance to heal, it’s possible they’ll get back to themselves. But if Mahomes is ailing, it will be so much harder for them to continue to outscore opponents — particularly good ones.
Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:
1. Frank Reich is not a good coach. Frank Reich is a great coach.
He helped the Colts from a 1-5 start to the playoffs last year, has endured the surprise retirement of his franchise quarterback, and walked into Kansas City without his best defensive player (Darius Leonard) and both starting safeties.
While his football acumen shows his background with Chiefs coach Andy Reid (also a great coach), his ability to manage people in difficult circumstances is the biggest indicator of his skill.
Plenty of coaches with better circumstances win less often, and Reich’s ability to keep the Colts competitive (and then some) is impressive.
Sunday, he made the simple decision to go death-by-a-thousand-cuts against an injury-depleted Chiefs defense.
It worked well, with a fourth-quarter field goal drive the best example. The Colts (3-2) ran on 12 of the 14 plays on that one, chewing up more than eight minutes of clock. Settling for three points was a letdown, except it had a bigger impact than the score could measure.
2. If the Chiefs have a weakness, it’s an offensive line that’s ordinary at best.
With all their skill position talent, it’s easier to hide, but missing left tackle Eric Fisher (out following core muscle surgery) makes a difference.
They allowed too much pressure to a Colts defense that’s undermanned as well, and failed in the ultimate job of any line — keeping the flies off their quarterback.
3. On the other hand, the Colts were able to exert themselves, thanks to a line that made the quick transition last year from one of the worst to one of the best.
Since they don’t get recognized often enough, it’s worth it to say their names whenever you get a chance. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo, left guard Quenton Nelson, center Ryan Kelly, right guard Mark Glowinski, and right tackle Braden Smith have combined to become a group that creates the personality of a team.
It’s far from glamorous, but neither are the Colts. Which makes the whole thing work.
4. When kicker Adam Vinatieri was struggling, there was speculation he might retire, or the Colts might make that decision for him.
Sunday, he did his job, hitting three short field goals (32, 32, and 29) when points were scarce.
Trusting the league’s all-time leading scorer is easy in theory, but after he missed five kicks in the first two weeks, it would be understandable to worry.
But like so many things about his team, he seems to fit what the personality Reich’s trying to establish.
5. The Chiefs have some obvious firepower, but a bit of fire as well.
NBC’s cameras caught tight end Travis Kelce and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy having a rather animated conversation on the sidelines. At the end of the exchange, Kelce gave Bieniemy a shove, and it didn’t appear playful.
The two later hugged it out, but sometimes a collection of high achievers with big personalities will create some friction. The difference with the Chiefs (at least in the global sense) appears to be their ability to handle it.