The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t need to win on Sunday to clinch a playoff spot. If the New England Patriots beat the Miami Dolphins, it would guarantee Andy Reid’s squad a place in the playoffs.
With Tom Brady down four late and driving on the Dolphins, it looked like it wouldn’t matter what the Chiefs did against the Oakland Raiders. Then Miami managed to make a last second stop (with the help of a drop) and Kansas City would still need to take care of their own business. And take care of it, they did.
The Chiefs won the coin toss, took the ball and scored in less than 30 seconds! First Quintin Demps put the Kansas City on the Raiders 49 yard line with a 50-yard kickoff return. Then Jamaal Charles took it the rest of the way on the first play from scrimmage, a short pass that the electric back turned into a 49-yard touchdown.
Oakland marched down the field on the next drive, but had to settle for a field goal. Kansas City answered, though it took seven plays, ending with a measly 39-yard Charles touchdown catch. Once again he took a screen, brought it to The Black Hole and for his efforts was welcomed with a shower of beer.
Despite the Bud Light shower, Charles had given the Chiefs a 14-3 lead and he was just getting started.
But before Charles could continue building his historic day, the Kansas City defense did their part. Eric Berry stepped in front of a Matt McGloin pass and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown and a 21-3 lead.
The defense came up big again early in the second quarter when Tamba Hali scooped up a McGloin fumble. Three plays later, Charles had his third touchdown, though it was just one yard this time around.
A second Berry interception and fourth (!!) Charles touchdown — third from Smith — had the Chiefs up 35-10 and looking very much like a team that would waltz into that playoff spot.
Then things got interesting as Oakland scored 21 unanswered points to make it a four point game.
The fifth score from Charles, the most-impressive at 71 yards, followed by a Raiders fumble on the ensuing kickoff and another quick score sealed the game for Kansas City and a return to the playoffs.
Just for good measure, Knile Davis capped the Chiefs scoring in the fourth quarter, with Charles watching from the sidelines.
With the No. 1 overall seed still in play, don’t expect Reid to do anything different over the final two weeks, despite almost certainly being locked into the fifth seed.
Before we start talking about playoff scenarios, here are the players that stood out for Kansas City Sunday in Oakland.
Offense: Jamaal Charles
Are there any superlatives left for Charles? He is a one-man wrecking crew and his five touchdowns are a Chiefs record, just one of many franchise marks that he now owns.
Though he finished the day with a mortal 20 yards on eight carries, Charles had an eye-popping 195 yards receiving on eight catches, including four touchdowns in the air. Just another performance that had me shaking my head and wondering if he is human.
With Davis slowing showing he can be a reliable backup to Charles, the Chiefs should be able to keep their star somewhat fresh for the playoffs. Because as good as he was Sunday, it’s hard to imagine him leading the offense at any point over the final two weeks with just 16 touches.
Defense: Eric Berry
If seeing Charles basically rent time in The Black Hole wasn’t enough to break the Raiders spirit, Berry’s two picks had to do the trick. The first he took to the house for a score and the second was immediately followed by one of Charles’ five scores.
Any time a player tears his knee, even with today’s technology, you have to wonder if they will regain their peak form. For Berry, he looks better than he did at the end of his rookie campaign when he was shaping up to be one of the NFL’s best safeties.
He did have a silly roughing the passer penalty, but when you rush the passer as aggressively as he does, those things are going to happen. Besides that mistake he had a fantastic game and should be trouble for the Indianapolis Colts or whoever else the Chiefs end up facing in the playoffs.
Special Teams: A.J. Jenkins
When the Chiefs put a cap on the Raiders hopes of a comeback, Jenkins was right in the middle of the action. The reserve wide receiver made the low tackle on returner Taiwan Jones that popped the ball loose for safety Husain Abdullah to pick up.
Jenkins came to Kansas City in a trade for Jon Baldwin and though he may never live up to his draft position, he’s proving to be a solid addition on special teams and he could find a place in Reid’s offense.
Not only was Jenkins in the backfield twice for the Chiefs, including one carry for five yards, but he also was targeted once by Alex Smith. With the speed he has and the work Charles is doing on the ground, he could surprise teams over the next few weeks.