Chiefs look to hit ground running after bye week

Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt leads the NFL with 800 yards rushing but hasn’t scored a TD on the ground since Week 3. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If running the ball and playing defense is a recipe for success, the Kansas City Chiefs will have to improve greatly in the second half of the season.

 

While the Chiefs (6-3) started the year fairly strong in both of those areas, each has taken a step back during the past month. But the Chiefs are hoping they can fix their ailments quickly, beginning Sunday when they play the New York Giants at noon at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

The Giants (1-7) are 28th in the NFL in run defense, giving up 125.9 yards per game, and that could be the remedy the Chiefs need for a slumping run game. Third-round pick Kareem Hunt burst onto the scene in Week 1 against the Patriots with 148 rushing yards, and he followed that up with 172-yard performance against the Chargers in Week 3.

Through the team’s first five games, Hunt ran for 100 yards or more four times and scored four touchdowns on the ground. But he hasn’t had a rushing touchdown since Week 3, and after starting the season 5-0, the Chiefs have lost three of their last four. In those losses, Hunt has averaged just 48 rushing yards per game.

“Honestly, I could have 50 yards, and as long as we win, I’m happy,” Hunt said.

Obviously, Hunt hasn’t had much to cheer about lately. His production began to tail off when center Mitch Morse and guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif went out with injuries. Morse missed five games with a foot sprain and Duvernay-Tardif missed four with a sprained knee.

“You can’t go backwards running the football,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “That’s not the situation you want to be in. I’ve got to make sure I’m designing things the right way, giving guys the opportunity. We’ve got to go out and we’ve got to function. We’ve got to run those individual battles out there, and we’re not getting that part done.”

The Chiefs entered Sunday ranked 12th in rushing offense at 116.7 yards per game, and even with his recent slump, Hunt led the NFL in rushing entering Sunday with 800 yards on 155 carries (5.16 avg.) Though he has averaged 5 yards per carry this season, Hunt only played in a little more than half of the team’s plays in the loss to the Cowboys.

“That’s the biggest thing,” Hunt said of winning. “If I have success, that’s what it is. But I just like helping my team win and doing whatever it takes.”

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