Chiefs continue to squeak by against league’s lowly teams
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Andy Reid insisted that the Kansas City Chiefs were “fired up” after their win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
Plenty of other people were left scratching their heads.
The Chiefs trailed the only one-win team in the NFL at halftime, eventually went to overtime and needed to force a fumble there to set up the winning touchdown in the 30-24 escape. And while it clinched a seventh consecutive AFC West title for the Chiefs, it left some wondering whether they can do any damage when the playoffs roll around.
“I mentioned it to the team, you can’t in today’s world — the NFL — you can’t go by the record. Everything is so close, the parity, and you’re off by like a fingertip catch or maybe a penalty or a turnover. It’s just one thing,” Reid said. “It has never been where there have been so many close games as there are now that have been determined by one score.
“The tape tells you the story,” he added. “You put on the tape. We knew it was going to be a battle. We felt that going in. Like I said, a well-coached team with good players. It was important that we kept going through four quarters.”
The wins all count the same, even if some look a whole lot better than others. And the Chiefs (11-3), who remain tied with Buffalo for the AFC’s best record, have had quite a few that didn’t look particularly good.
There was the win over the Chargers, when Jaylen Watson returned a pick 99 yards for a TD to help Kansas City avoid defeat. The game against the Raiders, when they trailed 20-10 at halftime and desperately rallied for the 30-29 victory. The squeaker over the Titans when their backup quarterback, Malik Willis, completed all of five passes. And just last week in Denver, when the Chiefs held on for a harrowing 34-28 victory over the Broncos.
It seems that nothing comes easy for Kansas City, even against the league’s worst teams.
“It’s not our identity. It’s not what we want,” Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon acknowledged. “But along the course of the season, things happen. It’s not pretty. It’s not the nicest. But we find a way to win and that’s all that matters.”
Still, it begs the question: Do the Chiefs play down to the level of the opposition? And can they continue to do that and hope to jump the Bills over the final three weeks for the No. 1 seed and the lone first-round playoff bye?
“Obviously we know we have a lot to work on, to clean up at least with the turnovers and the penalties,” Patrick Mahomes said, “but you have to celebrate. We still won the AFC West, and you have to enjoy that. I told the guys to do that. Enjoy it for a plane ride home tonight. We’ve got a short week this next week, so enjoy it and we’ll get right back to it.”
Mahomes completed his final 20 passes against the Texans, finishing 36 of 41 for 336 yards with two touchdown throws, a touchdown run and no interceptions. He now has 4,496 yards passing, putting him on pace to break Peyton Manning’s NFL record of 5,477 yards set during his 2013 MVP season with the Broncos — and in 16 games, too.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Mental mistakes have been a problem. The Chiefs were penalized 10 times for 102 yards against Houston, and they fumbled three times while losing two. That’s nine straight games with at least one turnover for Kansas City.
“You’ve got to work your fundamentals and techniques,” Reid said, “and you’ve got to trust them when you’re out there.”
McKinnon has become one of the best playmakers for Kansas City. The backup running back had seven catches for 112 yards and two scores against the Broncos, then had eight catches for 70 yards and a score to go with the winning touchdown run in overtime against the Texans.
Harrison Butker missed a 51-yard field goal that would have won the game in regulation for Kansas City — no chip-shot but well within his range. After going 25 of 28 on field goals last season, the big-legged Butker is just 16 of 21 this season. He’s also missed three point-after attempts.
The Chiefs came out of the game without any new injuries. They also could have Mecole Hardman on the field Saturday against Seattle after the wide receiver came off injured reserve last week and returned to practice.
7 — The Chiefs’ run of consecutive division titles ties the Los Angeles Rams of 1973-79 for second best in NFL history behind the New England Patriots, who won the AFC East 11 consecutive years beginning in 2009.
The Chiefs play the Seahawks on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium.
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