Seven field goals a sign of trouble for Alex Smith, Chiefs

Why the Bengals are headed to the playoffs

Jim Basquil and Tom Waddle break down the Bengals' 36-21 win over the Chiefs.

CINCINNATI -- The Kansas City Chiefs kicked seven field goals Sunday and every last one of them was a monument to their failure.

Their failure to handle the defensive pressure brought by the Cincinnati Bengals' defense. Their failure to compete with one of the NFL's best teams, which didn't kick a field goal but did score five touchdowns. Their failure to follow the first five teams since 1970 that kicked seven field goals in a game.

Those teams all won.

Not the Chiefs. They bogged down time after time against the Bengals, and the math isn't going to be favorable when one team is scoring five touchdowns, the other kicking seven field goals.

The Chiefs lost 36-21, falling to 1-3 and into desperation mode only one-fourth of the way through the season.

The common theme for the Chiefs in their three-game losing streak is their inability to handle the pressure dished out by the opposing defense. Two weeks ago against Denver, it manifested itself in five costly turnovers.

Last week in Green Bay, it was seven sacks of quarterback Alex Smith and going three-and-out on four of their first five possessions.

In Cincinnati, it was the repeated failures to score touchdowns plus five more sacks.

"At times, we handled it well," said Smith, who was 31-of-45 for 386 yards but, amazingly, nothing into the end zone. "Had a good plan for it. Certainly they made their plays against us.

"It's never going to be perfect on the road against a defense like that. They're going to get some. Hopefully you get them a few times. I felt like we did."

On the seven drives in question, the key factor that forced the Chiefs to kick a field goal: a dropped pass (under defensive pressure), a sack, another sack, an inexplicable running of the clock late in the first half and a delay of game penalty, a running play that went for negative-eight yards, three incomplete passes, a penalty.

The Chiefs were actually decent on third downs for a change, 7-of-16 or 44 percent. But these seven third-down plays were disasters because the Chiefs couldn't adequately handle Cincinnati's pressure.

"On first and second down, they're good personnel-wise, so they don't get crazy," Smith said of the Bengals. "They're well coached. They play fundamental defense and they get you in third down and here comes the crazy stuff. That's kind of been their deal and it's always tough here at their place with the crowd noise. They're good at it. They're a veteran group and they disguise well and all of the sudden at the snap, they've got guys coming."

That's three games in a row where the Chiefs had their day ruined by an opponent that brought relentless pressure. It makes sense that next week's opponents, the Chicago Bears, will at least attempt the same tactic.

Perhaps the Chiefs can find a way to break through. If they compile 461 yards and commit only one turnover, as they did against the Bengals, going without a touchdown certainly can't happen again.

Look for the Bears to see whether that's true.