Second-Half Defense Struggles Once Again

For the first half of Sunday's game in Oakland, the Chiefs' defense kept the Raiders off the scoreboard entirely.

However, not even factoring Oakland's kick return touchdown to start the third quarter into the equation, the Raiders' offense rebounded from their slow start and went onto score 16 more points.

That kind of turnaround after halftime – allowing no points and then surrendering 16 – probably isn't what Romeo Crennel had in mind from his defense. The disturbing part, though, is that the Chiefs' defense faltering in the second half wasn't a fluke occurrence. It's officially becoming a trend.

Sunday's contest marked the fifth time in eight games that an opposing offense has scored more points against the Chiefs in the second half than they did in the first. One of those five occasions was the San Francisco game, where the 49ers scored a meaningless touchdown on the final play of a blowout. So we'll set that one aside.

But the other four games came against Indianapolis, Houston, Buffalo, and Oakland. In each of those games, the Chiefs held their opponent to seven or fewer points in the first half, only for the opposing team to roar back and score ten or more points after halftime.

That's more of a technical explanation, though, which doesn't quite paint the whole picture. To put it simply, in those four games, the Chiefs have allowed a combined total of 13 points in the first half and have surrendered 74 points in the second. It's a rather glaring discrepancy.

But aside from the scoring differential, what else do those games have in common? The Chiefs lost three of them, and came dangerously close to losing all four.

In other words, defensively speaking, every game the Chiefs have lost this season has followed the exact same pattern. They've played well in the first half, especially when it comes to preventing points. But they haven't been able to sustain their play after halftime.

Chiefs defensive end Wallace Gilberry had a strong game but his teammates couldn't hold off Raider rally.
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That's particularly unusual because the complete opposite has been reflected in their wins. Against Cleveland, for instance, the Chiefs allowed 14 points in the first half, but kept the Browns scoreless after halftime. They surrendered 13 first-half points to Jacksonville, but only gave up a single touchdown in the second half, and that score was greatly aided by a suspect pass interference penalty.

Likewise, if not for a singular play with blown coverage against San Diego, the defense would have pitched a second-half shutout there too. Then we're back to the 49ers, who were completely shut down before managing to put up a score in garbage time.

Making things even stranger is that there doesn't seem to be any glaring reason to explain why the defense is unable to sustain their first half success. Time of possession may have been a factor against the Colts, as the defense spent a long time on the field. But the Chiefs actually led the TOP battle against both Oakland and Houston.

From game to game, the only thing that seems to stand out is the issue of making adjustments. When the opposing offense has early success, Crennel has been able to clamp down on them in the second half. But when it's the defense setting the tone, the other team ends up adjusting to them. And at least so far, the Chiefs have been unable to respond to it.

Regardless of all the penalties, the mistakes, or the dropped third down pass by Dwayne Bowe, if the Chiefs' defense had simply been able to stiffen up and stop the Raiders from making just one of their second-half scoring drives, K.C. would have left Oakland with a victory. If they could have done the same against Houston, we could be talking about a team with a 7-1 record.

Whatever the solution to this problem is, hopefully Crennel will be able to get it sorted out. But for now, let's just hope for a good first half from the Broncos' offense next weekend, because they'll be playing right into the Chiefs' hands. Top Stories