Chiefs got by with less than their best

By Steve Sell
November 11, 2014

I’m glad I didn’t get around to posting my thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs’ game with Buffalo before the teams met on Sunday.

I had a column in mind how the Bills have been the proverbial thorn in the side of the Chiefs. I was going to write how the Chiefs were due for a clunker after a nice stretch of five wins in six games, including victories over New England and San Diego, two that a lot of folks probably didn’t see coming.

I was going to write that Buffalo would dominate the game and come away with a comfortable, maybe an even double-digit victory.

Glad I didn't do that.

For three quarters, though, I thought I was being proven right. The Bills’ offensive and defensive lines were insulting the Chiefs’ manhood by pushing them around like rag dolls. Alex Smith was running for his life and the Bills were running up and down the field, but self-destructing much to the relief of the Chiefs.

But it all turned with a Jamaal Charles TD run on a well-designed fourth-down play that featured his amazing speed and cutback ability. And not too soon after the Chiefs’ special teams delivered, recovering a fumbled punt that Smith turned into a bootleg TD run for the clincher.

Let’s face it. The Chiefs were punished for a good deal of this game as they couldn’t match the Bills’ nasty streak. This looked more like the first game of the season when the Chiefs were physically inept against the woebegone Tennessee Titans.

But they found a way to win Sunday, always a good sign. Despite being outgained 364-278, they picked up a crucial road win to go along with those achieved in Miami and San Diego. To me this was an important swing game, since Seattle will enter the madhouse known as Arrowhead Stadium next Sunday as a favorite because of its Super Bowl ring it currently admires. A loss to the Seahawks and the Chiefs would be 6-4 with six left to play.

If the playoffs began today, the Chiefs would be in. Who would have thunk it after the 0-2 start? Teams the Chiefs were even with at the start of the day, including Buffalo, went down — Miami and Pittsburgh lost their fourth games. The Chiefs actually are ahead of three-loss Cincinnati because the Bengals have a tie. 

This is a testament to coach Andy Reid and his staff. Last year’s 11-5 record was the result of a pillowy soft schedule and a 9-0 start. But this season is the litmus test because the Chiefs are playing a much-tougher schedule, which includes four games against the NFC West, arguably the more talented division in football. 

We still have an eternity left — seven games. Two of those, though, are against rival Oakland, which is winless and always finds ways to beat itself. They also have divisional games left with Denver and San Diego, but both are at home. San Diego probably doesn’t relish the idea of playing in December in frosty KC. If the Chiefs can split road games against Arizona and Pittsburgh, they might get in.