AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. --The news about safety Eric Berry's lymphoma hit hard everyone connected with the Kansas City Chiefs, but perhaps no one more than running back Jamaal Charles.

Charles
Berry
The two players became close in 2011. Berry and Charles suffered a torn ACL a week apart from one another, Berry in the season opener and Charles in Week 2. They pushed each other through the recovery from surgery and rehab, along with tight end Tony Moeaki, who tore his ACL the final week of the preseason that year.

"Eric is a great teammate," Charles said. "I've been with Eric through a lot of things. We've both been through knee surgery and he was right there by my side. I know Eric is a good person, a great person. If he can do it, anybody can do it. Good thing he found it early. He was happy about this journey he's about to go through because he's one of the toughest persons I've ever been around. What a great person to go fight this.

"Having his presence gone is sad. I just want him to have the best health in the world. I want him to get himself get better. I don't care about the game right now. I just want him to be OK so I can see my friend forever."

Charles was also close with a teenager who recently drowned in rural northern Missouri. Andre Lance, 17, had befriended Charles a year or two ago at training camp and Charles posted a photo of the two together to his Instagram account.

"I want to dedicate the game to him," Charles said. "He was just a young kid. That was a sad story to find out about."

Chiefs face must-win vs. Broncos

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
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Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher says the team hasn’t had much success against the Peyton Manning-led Broncos. Will Sunday night be the breakthrough?
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's a new week, so we'll refresh your memory about what the Kansas City Chiefs are getting from their wide receivers this season.
  • Catches: 86, last in the NFL.
  • Yards, 997, last in the NFL.
  • Touchdowns 0, last in the NFL.
  • Longest gain, 33 yards, last in the NFL.
  • Targets, 141, last in the NFL.
  • Percentage of dropped passes, 6.4, last in the NFL.
Avant
These are all good reasons the Chiefs need to get newly signed wide receiver Jason Avant involved in Sunday night's game against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium.

It's a mistake to consider Avant a savior. He won't be. His best season, from his younger days with the Philadelphia Eagles, had Avant catching 53 passes for 648 yards and zero touchdowns. That was in 2012, when he was 29. Avant has 13 career touchdowns in 127 games.

This season, in 11 games for the Carolina Panthers at age 31, Avant had 21 catches for 201 yards and a touchdown.

Still, the Chiefs are desperate for help at wide receiver. Dwayne Bowe, after a midseason surge, has slumped the past two games. Donnie Avery could conceivably play against Denver for the first time in two months, but in that case how much do the Chiefs have a right to expect from him?

Otherwise, the Chiefs are getting little in terms of catches and yardage from their wideouts. So get Avant in the lineup and let's see if he can make a difference.

QB snapshot: Alex Smith

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
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A quick observation of quarterback Alex Smith and how he played in the Chiefs' 24-20 loss in Week 12:

Smith
While Smith wasn't exactly the Mad Bomber against the Raiders, he did take more chances down the field than usual. Smith completed three passes that went at least 15 yards, the most he has had in a game since Week 2 against Denver.

All three passes went to tight ends, which highlights the problems at wide receiver. With the Kansas City Chiefs needing a touchdown on their final drive, Smith was just 1-of-4 on passes intended for wide receivers.

Smith averages 7.1 yards per pass attempt to a wide receiver this season. The league average is 8.0 yards. Meanwhile, Smith averages 7.0 yards per pass attempt to a tight end or back, which is slightly higher than the league average (6.9 yards).
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Almost two years to the day of the Kansas City Chiefs’ most recent tragedy, team officials revealed one of the franchise’s best players and brightest hopes has, in all likelihood, lymphoma.

The Chiefs were hopeful the outcome for safety Eric Berry will be different. Perhaps they caught Berry’s illness early enough. Maybe his plan for treatment will make all the difference.

The Chiefs, and by extension Berry, are due that good fortune. The Chiefs, like all teams and families, have been touched by tragedy, but perhaps more than their share.

Berry
It was almost two years ago, on Dec. 1, 2012, that linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and the mother of his child and then committed suicide in the parking lot of the team’s practice facility.

The career of one of the franchise’s best players, linebacker Derrick Thomas, was cut short when he died from complications after an auto accident. Promising running back Joe Delaney drowned while trying to save the life of some children.

Another running back, Mack Lee Hill, died shortly after having knee surgery. A third, Stone Johnson, died from a broken neck he received during a preseason game.

Then there’s head coach Andy Reid, who dealt with his son Garrett's death of a drug overdose while he was coaching the Philadelphia Eagles.

Perhaps all this experience will help the Chiefs deal with yet another situation more important than football. Chairman Clark Hunt flew in from Dallas on Monday morning so he could not only speak with Berry but also be available for other players, coaches and staff members.

“I don’t think you’re ever equipped necessarily to handle what life throws at you," Hunt said. “Certainly this was completely unexpected. I do think we have a culture where we respect and support each other and really that’s the most important thing at a time like this."

Berry was the Chiefs first-round draft pick in 2010. He reached the Pro Bowl in three of his first four seasons, missing only in 2011, when a torn ACL cost him all but a handful of plays.

More than that, Berry is one of the most active Chiefs in the community. Among his many projects: Sending underprivileged Kansas City students to school with fully loaded backpacks.

“When you have somebody who’s been with you for a number of years and I’ve had a chance to get to know him personally and he’s been such a leader for our football team, it probably does pull at the heart strings a little more," Hunt said. “Putting that aside, whether it’s an employee in the front office or someone on the football field, when they’re going through a tough time we want to be there to support them."

To that end, the Chiefs sent Berry off to Atlanta, where he will undergo more testing and treatment, with more than a few words of encouragement. They know from experience that at this point, that’s about all they can do.

“The important thing for us to do as an organization and as a family is -- tell Eric that we love you, we’re thinking about you and that we hope you have a quick recovery," Hunt said. “I had a chance to speak with Eric earlier today and I just told him that my family’s going to be thinking about you and praying for speedy recovery.

“He sounded upbeat actually and very positive. As you know he’s a very focused individual and his mindset was very much of tackling this and trying to get past it as soon as possible."
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- That gift the Kansas City Chiefs presented last week to its competitors for the AFC West championship? Well, the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers didn't return the favor on Sunday.

The Broncos and Chargers won close games at home and each picked up another half-game on the Chiefs, who lost to the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night. The Broncos are in first place at 8-3 with the Chiefs and Chargers tied for second at 7-4.

Much has to play out before the division race is decided. The Chiefs play against the Broncos on Sunday night and on Dec. 28 against the Chargers, with both games at Arrowhead Stadium. The Broncos also have to play against the Chargers in San Diego on Dec. 14.

Otherwise, the teams face difficult schedules. The Chiefs also have games remaining at Arizona and Pittsburgh and at home against Oakland. The Broncos will play in Cincinnati in the season's final Monday night game. The Chargers have a brutal finishing schedule that also includes games against the Ravens, Patriots and 49ers.

While it certainly looks for now like the Chiefs ruined any realistic chance of winning the division title by failing to beat the previously winless Raiders, the race figures to take some more unforeseen turns. The Chiefs are still in position to take advantage, as long as they don't have any more slip-ups similar to the one they had in Oakland.

Chiefs fall to final wild-card spot

November, 21, 2014
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- I'll do my full, normal, weekly look at the Kansas City Chiefs' standing in the AFC playoff picture next week, after the weekend games are concluded.

Just know for now that after Thursday night's 24-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders, the Chiefs now hold the final wild-card spot in the AFC. The Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers, both 7-4, would be the AFC's wild-card teams. The Steelers hold the tiebreaker over the Chiefs because of a better record in conference games (6-3 for Pittsburgh, 5-3 for Kansas City). So Pittsburgh would be the AFC's fifth seed, Kansas City the sixth seed.

The Chiefs' first-round playoff opponent if the season ended today would be the Cincinnati Bengals. At 6-3-1, the Bengals lead the AFC North. The game would be played in Cincinnati.

Two games of immense interest for Chiefs fans this weekend with respect to the wild-card race are the ones featuring the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. Both teams are 6-4. Each plays an NFC opponent this weekend. Cleveland is at Atlanta on Sunday, Baltimore is at New Orleans on Monday night.

For those who like to fiddle with various scenarios involving the Chiefs and all the other playoff contenders, check out ESPN's playoff machine.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Kansas City Chiefs paid a heavy price for it, but at least they’ll have some time to get their act back together in time for their next game. It’s a big one. The 7-4 Chiefs will face the Denver Broncos on Nov. 30 at Arrowhead Stadium.

Smith
 The Chiefs failed to take care of business on the short week, losing Thursday night to the previously winless Oakland Raiders 24-20.

“We have a little time here to regroup and get healthy,’’ quarterback Alex Smith said. “We come back home and then we’ve got another big division game, and we are about to handle this the right way. We’re going to build from it. As weird as that is to say, you only got two choices to be able to handle something like this. We can regroup and get it together. We still got a lot in front of us.”

With respect to eventually winning the AFC West championship, the Chiefs are only a half-game behind the 7-3 Broncos. But the loss to the Raiders is potentially devastating to the Chiefs as far as tiebreakers against the Broncos. The Chiefs would even the season series against Denver by winning next Sunday night, but the Broncos are still likely to finish with a better record in divisional games, which would allow them to win a tiebreaker against the Chiefs.

Much needs to play out before all of that get decided. And perhaps the Broncos will lose on Sunday to the Miami Dolphins and give the Chiefs a gift like the one Kansas City handed out on Thursday.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Say this for the Kansas City Chiefs in their 24-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night: They went down using their best offensive players.

Tight end Travis Kelce was in for 62 of the Chiefs' 66 offensive players. Among skill players, other than quarterback Alex Smith, Kelce was followed by wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (61) and running back Jamaal Charles (60).Charles' backup, Knile Davis, was in the game for just five offensive plays.

Receiver De'Anthony Thomas played 33 offensive snaps, his highest total of the season. Thomas picked up at least some of the second-half snaps that would have gone to Junior Hemingway. He didn't play in the second half because of a concussion.

Kelce picked up extra snaps because of starting tight end Anthony Fasano's sore knee. Fasano, who sat out last week's game against Seattle, was in for just two plays against the Raiders but made the most of them. Fasano caught a pass on each of his two snaps. One, a 11-yard catch, gave the Chiefs a first down. The other, for 19 yards, was a touchdown.

Most notable of defensive snap counts:

---Nose tackle Dontari Poe, four days after a physical game against Seattle, was in for every one of Oakland's 69 plays.

---Linebacker Dee Ford, the first-round draft pick, was again ignored. Ford didn't play on defense for the second straight week and third game in the past four.
James JonesThearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)James Jones' 9-yard touchdown catch ended a game-winning, 17-play drive for the Raiders, a drive that ultimately might keep the Chiefs from the playoffs.


OAKLAND, Calif. -- Seventeen plays are but a fraction of the snaps in the Kansas City Chiefs' season. But if the Chiefs remember nothing else from the 2014 season, they’ll remember the 17 that defined Thursday night's 24-20 loss to the previously winless Oakland Raiders.

The Chiefs had owned the fourth quarter this season and they had owned this fourth quarter, too, scoring the first 10 points of the period to overcome a dismal start and take a 20-17 lead.

Then came the 17-play Oakland touchdown drive that threatens the Chiefs’ quest for the AFC West championship or even a wild-card berth.

The Chiefs might have been the ones to make the fourth-quarter defensive plays to beat the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks in their previous two games. But they couldn’t manage that against an opponent that was bidding to become the second NFL team to finish 0-16.

Cornerback Ron Parker might have been the hero against the Bills, forcing a second-half fumble and breaking up three passes on Buffalo’s final drive.

But he was penalized Thursday night on the winning drive for pass interference on a third-down play and then was beat cleanly for the winning touchdown by Oakland receiver James Jones.

Safety Husain Abdullah might have put the exclamation point on a lopsided early-season win over New England with a fourth-quarter pick-six, but he couldn’t rein in a pass that would have ended Oakland’s scoring drive with an interception instead of a touchdown.

“That’s one I’m going to think about a lot," Abdullah said.

The Chiefs will all think about those 17 plays. They threaten to ruin their aspirations of an AFC West championship. Those hopes seemed so real before the game, with the Chiefs at 7-3 and tied for first place in the division with the Denver Broncos.

Now, even a wild card seems iffy for the Chiefs. It was just understood that given an upcoming schedule that includes games with the Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers that the Chiefs had to sweep their two-game season series against the Raiders.

The Chiefs can still salvage a split by beating Oakland in a Dec. 14 rematch at Arrowhead Stadium. But that might not be enough to get them into the postseason.

The Chiefs were dealt a tough stretch of schedule. They had to fly to the West Coast on a short week and face an 0-10 opponent four days after earning an emotional win over the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks. In 10 days they’ll be facing the Broncos at Arrowhead.

But they couldn’t find the energy to handle the Raiders.

“You can sit here and make excuses," linebacker Tamba Hali said. “But they played better than us and wanted it more than we wanted it.

“Yes, it was draining, but this is the type of business we’re in. You have to turn it around and muster the same type of energy."

The Chiefs will now take the weekend off, but it will no doubt be a restless time. They could have spent the time kicking back and watching the Broncos play against the Miami Dolphins, comfortable their fate was in their own hands no matter that outcome.

Instead the Chiefs are depending on the kindness of strangers, in this case the Dolphins, to help save their season.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Whatever concern there might be out there about the fact that none of the Kansas City Chiefs wide receivers have yet to score a touchdown is wasted. The Chiefs have much bigger problems.

Davis
Charles
The Chiefs haven’t needed touchdowns from wide receivers because they’re so good at running the ball when inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. The Chiefs are third in the NFL in red zone rushing yards (164) and average yards per carry (3.57) and are tied with Seattle for red zone rushing touchdowns with 13. The Seahawks have 14 more red zone carries than the Chiefs.

Teams around the NFL are struggling to run near the opponent’s goal line. NFL teams in last week’s games rushed for a total of 10 touchdowns. The Chiefs scored three of them, all from inside the 20.

“I don’t think there’s a magic secret to it,’’ quarterback Alex Smith said. “It’s good plans and it’s going out there and playing well.”

Actually, it’s more than just that.

“We’ve got a good running back, I guess,’’ coach Andy Reid said.

Now we’re getting to the heart of the matter. At about 200 pounds, Jamaal Charles doesn’t look like he should be a good red zone runner. Big plays should be more his thing.

But Charles doesn’t get enough credit for his ability to run in tight quarters.

“A guy like Jamaal has great vision, a great feel, is hard to bring down on the first point of contact, can obviously make the first guy miss and then get himself into the end zone,’’ offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. “Having a guy like that definitely makes it a little bit better for you in that run game.”

It’s not just Charles, though. The Chiefs also give the ball at times to Knile Davis near the goal line. Davis doesn’t have Charles’ vision or patience but he is more powerful and more capable of making his own hole.

Charles had two touchdowns last week against Seattle, Davis one. Charles has eight rushing touchdowns this season, Davis five.

“We don’t really care which one is in necessarily, just that they’re fresh and ready to go,’’ Reid said.

Chiefs vs. Raiders preview

November, 20, 2014
Nov 20
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video When: 8:25 p.m. ET, Thursday Where: O.co Coliseum, Oakland TV: NFL Network

The Kansas City Chiefs have won seven of their last eight games and at 7-3 are tied for first place in the AFC West. Their push for a playoff spot begins in earnest with Thursday night's game in Oakland against the Raiders, who are making a push of their own.

The Oakland Raiders are 0-10. With a difficult closing schedule, including a Dec. 14 game against the Chiefs in Kansas City, Oakland is in danger of finishing the season as a winless team.

ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and Raiders reporter Mike Wagaman preview the game.

Teicher: Mike, the Raiders have a difficult remaining schedule. Do you think they'll win one of their final six games or are they destined to become the NFL's latest team to finish a winless season?

Wagaman: A month ago I would have said the idea was ludicrous, simply because it's next to impossible for an NFL team to go winless. It's easier to win the Super Bowl than to go 0-16. Yet that's exactly what the Raiders are staring at, and to be honest, Adam, I don't see a winnable game left on their schedule. At one point it seemed like the Week 13 game in St. Louis or the Week 16 matchup with Buffalo might be games Oakland could steal, but that's not true anymore. You'd think they'd catch one team sleeping, but even if that were true, the Raiders would have to play a near-perfect game -- something they haven't done for more than a year now.

Adam, the Chiefs own the NFL's No. 1 pass defense and haven't given up a rushing touchdown this season, but their overall run defense has been up and down. Are opponents having success on the ground because they don't want to throw against that pass rush or is there more going on?

Teicher: It's been a number of factors. The Chiefs have played almost the entire season without three of their best run defenders. End Mike DeVito, linebackers Derrick Johnson and Joe Mays would have helped, but two of them haven't played since the season opener and Mays is only now coming back. Another of their best run defenders, safety Eric Berry, missed five games. The Chiefs also made a commitment to eliminate the big pass play, to some extent, at the expense of allowing some rushing yardage. They allowed a ton of big pass plays last season and were determined to reduce that number this season. They've done it, but at a cost to their run defense.

Give us a little scouting report on Oakland's rookie quarterback Derek Carr. It's his first time facing the Chiefs. What are his strengths and weaknesses? Is he closer to being the next Rich Gannon for the Raiders or the next JaMarcus Russell?

Wagaman: Carr's development this season has been extraordinary considering the Raiders don't have any playmakers in their receiving corps and the running game has been nonexistent. Physically, he can make all the throws and has solid footwork, which has enabled him to avoid being sacked much. Carr has shown good touch on the short passes and has a nice zip on the ball on the few occasions he's been able to air it out deep. He also has a remarkable poise in the pocket and doesn't get rattled easily. Remember, Adam, this kid has been studying films of NFL teams since he was a teen, when he would study tape with his older brother David. Still, it's far too early to compare him to Gannon, who was an 11-year vet when he came to the Raiders. Carr is also clearly more serious about his craft than Russell ever was. I think the answer is that he's right about where most NFL rookie quarterbacks would love to be, firmly planted as the starter and learning both from his successes and mistakes.

Adam, when Alex Smith was in the Bay Area with San Francisco he was known as a game manager, which is code for an average quarterback who avoids making the costly mistakes. He seemed to shake that label during his first year in Kansas City, but what's gone wrong with the passing game this season?

Teicher: The Chiefs aren't getting many big passing plays. Their longest pass play of the season is 34 yards, which is the worst in the league. But they've made it work because they can run the ball effectively and run it in the red zone, they're very good in both the red zone and on third down and, perhaps most importantly, are committing few turnovers. That's where Smith comes in. He's doing an extraordinary job of protecting the ball. Eventually, they'll need more from him. They'll run into an opponent who takes away the run and Smith will have to do more. For now, he's doing exactly as he's been asked to do.

The Raiders went on a free-agent signing binge over the offseason, which makes their record all the more disappointing. Losing with youth is bad enough, but it's worse losing with veterans. Does Oakland have any young players other than Carr who might still be with them if the Raiders eventually turn their program around?

Wagaman: General manager Reggie McKenzie has taken a lot of heat, and rightfully so, for many of the free-agent moves he's made since taking over in 2012. However, Oakland's most recent draft has produced three starters -- Carr, linebacker Khalil Mack and left guard Gabe Jackson -- and a fourth (cornerback TJ Carrie) who has been a valuable fill-in defensively while doubling as the kick returner. The three starters are going to be the cornerstone for this franchise moving forward. Tight end Mychal Rivera and wide receiver Brice Butler also have shown some long-term potential. The only other younger player who has shown any kind of consistent promise is wide receiver Rod Streater, who has been on injured reserve most of the season with a broken foot. Beyond that, the rest of the youth on the roster is too unproven to make an honest evaluation. But at this point, you have to believe with the way things are going, if the youngsters had much to offer, they'd be in the lineup already.

Adam, the last time the Raiders saw Jamaal Charles, they held him to 20 yards on eight carries. He's had some big games against Oakland prior to that, and this season he looks like he's back to his old self. He doesn't get the national attention that guys such as Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson get, but does Charles deserve to be talked about as an elite back?

Teicher: Charles is for real. The Chiefs are getting next to nothing from their wide receivers and have a patchwork offensive line featuring one rookie and two street free-agent starters. Charles is still delivering for them. It is interesting that the Raiders have generally done a better job of containing Charles in the running game over the years than most other frequent Chiefs' opponents. But the last time Charles played against the Raiders, he caught eight passes for 195 yards and four touchdowns, so the Raiders need to cover him far better than they did then.
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Chiefs have to be careful of trap game

November, 19, 2014
Nov 19
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ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher talks about focusing on the 0-10 Raiders with Denver up next.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Starting tight end Anthony Fasano will return to practice Monday as the Kansas City Chiefs begin preparations for Thursday night's game against the Raiders in Oakland. Fasano did not play in Sunday's 24-20 win against the Seattle Seahawks because of what the Chiefs have called a bruised knee.

Alford
Fasano
Neither of two injured wide receivers who also did not play against the Seahawks, Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins, will practice Monday. Avery is recovering from surgery to repair a sports hernia. Jenkins has an injured shoulder.

If Fasano can play in Oakland, the Chiefs can get back to the three-tight end formations they favored earlier in the season. At tight end they also have Travis Kelce and Phillip Supernaw.

Supernaw signed only last week but still wound up playing against the Seahawks and catching one pass.

“He did OK," offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. "He did well. Limited reps but he caught the one ball and did some good things for us. It’s something that as he gets a little more comfortable in the offense and we keep him coming along. ...He definitely gave us the ability to keep some of our same personnel groups intact."

Frankie Hammond Jr. would again get most of the snaps at the one wide receiver spot if Avery and Jenkins don't play in Oakland. Hammond didn't catch a pass against Seattle.
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The official line from the Kansas City Chiefs was they were just trying to win another game, but they weren’t fooling anyone. Measuring sticks come in different sizes, and they don’t come much bigger than the challenge offered Sunday by the Seattle Seahawks, the defending Super Bowl champions.

"It was a little bit of a see-where-you’re-at," Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. "We as a group, collectively, kind of answered that a little bit."

[+] EnlargeAlex Smith
John Rieger/USA TODAY SportsQuarterback Alex Smith threw for 108 yards in the Chiefs' Week 11 win over Seattle.
The answer the Chiefs provided should resonate around the AFC West and perhaps the league as a whole. They have to be taken seriously now after defeating the Seahawks 24-20 at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs lost the turnover battle, and going minus-2 in that department should, in and of itself, mean doom for a team that gets precious few big offensive plays. They also had trouble getting a handle on a Seattle running game that between Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson alone generated almost 200 yards.

Otherwise, the Chiefs did what they've done throughout their five-game winning streak. They rushed for almost 200 yards themselves. They scored touchdowns on three of their four trips inside the Seattle 20.

Most importantly, their underrated defense shut down the Seahawks in the fourth quarter. Seattle failed to convert on any of its three fourth-down plays in the final period, including a Lynch rushing attempt that gained nothing when the Seahawks needed just a few inches.

In other words, the Chiefs just played their game.

"We talked about it all week," Smith said. "The two things we talked about [were being] physical and [playing] four quarters. It was going to be a four-quarter game, and we knew that. You never know how they're going to come [or] who's going to get called upon."

The Chiefs called on all phases of their game in the fourth quarter. They won the period with a 47-yard run by Jamaal Charles to set up the go-ahead touchdown, their defensive stops and a great effort by Junior Hemingway and Albert Wilson to down a punt at the Seattle 4.

After beginning the season with a pair of defeats, the Chiefs have climbed to 7-3 and into a tie for first place in the AFC West with the Denver Broncos. Such a thought seemed improbable two months ago, but it's more than likely the Chiefs will play the Broncos at Arrowhead on Nov. 30 with first place on the line.

"We aren't going to think a whole lot about it until it's all said and done," coach Andy Reid said.

That's how the Chiefs have revived their season, by concentrating on the task at hand and not worrying about the bigger picture.

But, try as they might not to be scoreboard watchers, they couldn't help themselves when it came to Sunday's game between the Broncos and St. Louis Rams. They could only ignore that result, a 22-7 Denver defeat, for so long.

"Obviously, when it became final there at the end, you saw it," Smith said.

The Chiefs permitted themselves that brief glimpse at something outside their control, then got back to work in finishing off the Seahawks.

In doing so, the Chiefs made a statement that was impossible to misinterpret: They're in this thing for the long haul.

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