Here's What We Learned From Andy Reid on Monday from The Mothership
Q: Do you have a problem with your PAT and field goal operation?
REID: "Well, we've been a little inconsistent the last couple weeks on the snaps. We've got to fix that, so we'll go back to basics and fundamentals there."
Q: It looked like the snap on the missed field goal didn't look very good, was that the problem before that?
REID: "I'd say yes and we mishandled one, yeah."
Frankie Hammond's fumble.
REID: "Yeah, normally Frankie's very sure-handed. He got thrown in here right at the end - but listen, I'd say this for all of us - we've all got to go back and just focus on those fundamentals and take care of those as a team. We're doing some real good things, we just have to take care of a couple of little things."
Chiefs QB Alex Smith's "Fire" Impresses Coaches, Teammates from The Mothership
For the Chiefs, 2 turnovers, 5 penalties and a general lack of execution thwarted an offense that had been so good, so quick during this AFC-leading six-game winning streak.
What changed the tune on Sunday?
After gaining only 133 yards of total offense in the first 28 minutes of the game, there was one play that seem to ignite the Chiefs offense late in the first half.
Alex Smithdoesn't generally show a lot of emotion, but after his 6-yard run on third-and-3 with a little more than 3 minutes remaining in the first half, Smith got in the face of Chargers defensive back Jahleel Addae, who Smith felt like led with his head when he was laying on the ground.
This is the play that ignited the offense.
Postgame Quotes: Eric Berry, Derrick Johnson and Company Spoke With the Media from The Mothership
Safety Eric Berry
On Dee Ford's performance: "Man, it's cool. Coach talks about the guy that steps up in the game, he has to step up and make plays. So whoever's in, they're in, and you're expected to show up. So I think he did a great job of just understanding the situations we were in and talking to Justin (Houston) and talking to Tamba (Hali). He has a lot of experience in front of him so I think he does a good job of listening to the advice that they give him."
On the last drive: "Yeah, it was man. But good thing it's not a beauty pageant. It's a football game, so stuff happens. We just have to be able to adjust and I think we did a god job of adjusting going down the stretch. They made some plays and that's going to happen sometimes, but I felt like, for the most part, everybody kept their cool and just came back the next play and tried to make another play. So I just respect that in our team."
In an effort to give back to those who have risked their lives for the country and Chiefs fans everywhere, the organization partnered up with Cars 4 Heroes founder Terri Franz to surprise one soldier with an early Christmas present.
In the third quarter, Specialist Jayson Morton, a 1st Infantry Division Soldier, along with his wife and two sons, were surprised with a Ford Fusion provided by Cars 4 Heroes and the Car Santa. Morton is the lone survivor of a December 2012 helicopter crash in Zabul, Afghanistan.
"It's extremely, extremely helpful, to say the least," Morton said. "It's weird because you hear about things like this happening and you see things, but you never think something like that could happen to you.
"When I joined the military, I joined to take care of my family and other families here. For all of this other stuff to happen, it's just crazy."
Military Family Honored By Chiefs, UMKC in a Way They Won't Soon Forget from The Mothership
In January of 2007, Sergeant Milton Gist, Jr. was killed in action in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. He was part of the 1st Infantry Division.
"He was a great soldier," said Army Major General Wayne Grigsby. "He came from Task Force 177, the Steel Tigers. That was my sister Battalion when I was a Battalion Commander, so I was there as an operations officer when he was killed. Everything out there is very threatening, but this kid was a great soldier and he did a great job."
Milton left behind his mother, Anginette Morgan, his wife, Rah, and two children: a 4-year-old daughter, Jendayah, and 1-year-old son, Jakweli.
Jendayah, now 12 years old, will receive her father's GI Bill benefits, but this left Jakweli, now 9 years old, and his widowed mother to pay for his education...
...But perhaps the best part is she no longer has to do it alone.
UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton, along with 1st Infantry Division Commander Major General Grigsby, presented Rah with a four-year, $50,000 scholarship to the college—a memorial scholarship in the name of Sergeant Milton Gist, Jr.
KCChiefs.com Poll: Chiefs vs. Chargers: Top Plays
Chiefs' Allen Bailey happy to resume career year on defensive line from The Kansas City Star
When Bailey got hurt, they had won two straight and were sitting with a 3-5 record. They won the four games he missed and won his return game Sunday to bring their record to 8-5.
"It's been a couple weeks, feeling good to get back in the groove," Bailey said. "It was a pain not being able to participate and contribute. But I knew those boys would hold it down like they did, you know? They've all been playing good. Just trying to come back and keep adding to it."
Bailey had a quiet game statistically against the Chargers, registering a single tackle, but because of defensive end Mike DeVito's absence with a concussion, Bailey's return did allow them to continue rotating a deep four-man defensive front that kept everyone fresh. Poe led them with 56 snaps, but Bailey had 43 and Howard had 41.
Reid liked what he saw from Bailey, too.
Chiefs' defense anchors high moments Sunday against Chargers from Chiefs Digest
With the win, the Chiefs moved to 8-5 on the season and now sit two games behind the Denver Broncos (10-3), who lost Sunday to the Oakland Raiders, in the AFC West with three regular-season games remaining.
A look back at Sunday's game with highs and lows:
Before Houston's injury, the Chiefs gave Ford an occasional defensive series to provide Hali some rest. Ford played anywhere between five snaps (Week 6 against the Vikings) and 32 snaps (Week 9 against the Broncos) during the season's first nine games. He missed the subsequent two games because of a sore back before moving into the starting lineup in Week 13 against the Raiders.
Ford will likely continue to get some snaps when Houston returns, but he won't be an every-down player.
Chiefs' Andy Reid acknowledges need to eliminate special teams errors from The Kansas City Star
On Monday, Chiefs coach Andy Reid explained that they have to get better in this area.
"We've been a little inconsistent the last couple of weeks on the snaps," Reid said. "We've got to fix that and go back to the basics and fundamentals there."
But should the snap be automatic, even in poor weather like they've played in the last two weeks?
"I'd tell you nothing is automatic when humans are involved in it," Reid said. "So you've got to focus in on it and concentrate and work your techniques, make sure your hands are following through the proper hold. Those are the little things you need to do to stay consistent at it. Then you add weather into it, now you go back and bank on those fundamentals and trust those things."
Chiefs hope to fix recent consistency issues with field goal unit from Chiefs Digest
If the current late-season woes with the field goal unit offer déjà vu, they should.
Kansas City experienced trouble with then-long snapper Thomas Gafford during the final weeks of the 2014 season, leading to the signing of long snapper Charley Hughlett to the practice squad in Week 15.
The Chiefs overhauled the long snapper position during the offseason, signing Jorgen Hus and Brandon Hartson to reserve/future contracts and choosing to not re-sign Gafford.
The Chiefs eventually cut ties with Hus and Hartson before organized team activated (OTAs), settling on Winchester and rookie Andrew East to battle it out in training camp. Winchester emerged victorious after the third preseason game.
These aren't ideal problems for a team trying to earn its way into the playoffs, and Winchester hasn't been the entire issue. Dustin Colquitt mishandled a snap on a PAT in the previous week's game against Oakland.
What may help is that the Chiefs, for the first time in almost a month, are likely to play a rain-free game on Sunday against the Ravens in Baltimore.
They don't give points for style in the NFL, something the Kansas City Chiefs were thankful for on Sunday after their game against the San Diego Chargers.
"Good thing it's not a beauty pageant," safety Eric Berry said after the Chiefs escaped with a 10-3 victory.
Alex Smith won't set an NFL record for consecutive passes without an interception, at least not this season. The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback is working on a new streak of 15 after having his attempt to break the record ended on Sunday against the Chargers.
Smith had thrown 312 straight passes without being picked off, second in history and 46 behind Tom Brady's record, before Jason Verrett intercepted him early in the second quarter.
First-round draft bust? Chiefs' Dee Ford proves otherwise from The Associated Press via FS Kansas City
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey likes to say that it takes two years minimum, and often three or more, to determine whether a draft choice was a success or failure.
Good thing for Dee Ford.
After a rookie season in which he barely got onto the field, the young pass rusher finally showed Sunday why Dorsey made him a first-round pick. In place of injured All-Pro Justin Houston, Ford racked up three sacks of Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, then blanketed running back Danny Woodhead on the final play of the game to force an incompletion and preserve a 10-3 victory.
Quarterback Alex Smith Provides Chiefs With Grit in a Seven-Game Tear from The New York Times
After starting the season by dropping five of six games, including three losses decided by a touchdown or less, the Chiefs (8-5) have won seven in a row, holding off San Diego, 10-3, on Sunday largely on a goal-line stand by a Kansas City defense tattered by injuries.
But Smith helped the Chiefs win the unglamorous game with his legs, his spirit and his poise, as he has throughout the winning streak that put Kansas City in an A.F.C. wild-card spot.
Smith, 31, the former No. 1 overall draft choice who was traded to Kansas City in 2013 after seven generally disappointing seasons in San Francisco, completed 15 of 23 passes for only 191 yards Sunday. He threw his first interception after 312 passes, the second-longest streak in N.F.L. history.
"Obviously, the streak is over, so I don't have to answer those questions anymore," he said, smiling.
Patriots are getting healthy and again stand atop AFC's shifting playoff picture from The Washington Post
A season that began with such lofty aspirations for the Baltimore Ravens now winds down with them indeed playing meaningful games at home in December.
The problem is, those games are meaningful only for their opponents, not for the Ravens.
It is difficult to envision the Ravens, in their current state, doing anything more to dent the playoff hopes of the Chiefs or Steelers than they did to harm the postseason chances of the Seahawks.
A powerful running back out of Southern University, Hill passed away 13 games into his second professional season, 50 years ago on Dec. 14. Two days before his death, Hill carried the ball eight times for 22 yards and caught four passes for 39 yards in a loss to the Buffalo Bills at Buffalo's old War Memorial Stadium.
The cause of death was "a sudden and massive embolism" following surgery to repair a torn knee ligament suffered while making the last of those catches in the third quarter of the loss in Buffalo. The Quincy, Fla., native was 25 years old, and his death rattled the teammates who grew to love Hill after he signed with the team the year before.
"This guy had one of the biggest hearts you could imagine in a human being," said Bell, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who spent his entire career as a linebacker and defensive end with the Chiefs. "Mack came from hard times, and he just wanted to play ball."
Ravens QBs Matt Schaub, Jimmy Clausen in contention to start vs. Kansas City Chiefs from The Baltimore Sun
Coach John Harbaugh set his 4-9 Ravens up for another week of uncertainty at quarterback Monday, indicating that there's a chance Matt Schaub could return after missing Sunday's game, or the team could stick with Jimmy Clausen.
The addition of former Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett could further complicate the Ravens' quarterback situation for the final three weeks, too, but in the immediate future, there's no telling who will face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
"If [Schaub is] at 100 percent, if he's ready to go or close to it, and we feel like he can go out there and win for us, then he'll play," Harbaugh said. "If we feel like it's a better option to go with Jimmy, then we'll do that. Jimmy played well. Jimmy didn't do anything to hurt his chances of playing next week. I feel like we have two good options there."
Chiefs LB Ford revs up his motor from Sports Xchange via Lindy's Sports
The opportunities were few in his rookie season, and when he did get on the field he wasn't productive. Many pondered whether his first-round status out of Auburn was a poor evaluation by Chiefs general manager John Dorsey and his scouting staff.
Now, it appears his start could be chalked up to growing pains and moving from being a defensive end in college to an outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme with the Chiefs.
"Had I listened to the noise, I wouldn't have been ready for any of the opportunities that I was presented now," said Ford. "Through last year and this year, you have to be patient. With whatever your role is, you have to fill it out, be man enough to humble yourself and learn from two of the greatest linebackers in this league. I've been able to do some things."
Chiefs Are Real Contenders In the AFC from Football Insiders
Looking ahead, with the Cincinnati Bengals losing Andy Dalton for the season and no real answer at quarterback in Denver, this could be the season for the hottest team in the AFC to make some noise in January.
Outside of New England, who the Chiefs beat handily a season ago, name an AFC team that's considerably better than Kansas City.
It's not insane to think that the Chiefs could be playing deep into January with a chance at playing in February.
2015 NFL Power Rankings - Week 15: Chiefs, Seahawks and Steelers are trending upward from The Washington Post
5. Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) | Last week's rank: 6
The Chiefs simply don't lose any more, even if the Chargers did make things mighty interesting with their late drive to the 1-yard line Sunday. But Kansas City held on, and the winning streak should continue this Sunday in Baltimore.
For decades, living in Kansas City has meant understanding that the two biggest professional sports teams in town aren't ever going to be good at the same time. Something about the cosmic energy, maybe. They've come close, sort of...
...This year, finally, one of the bizarre coincidences in major American sports should end. There are technicalities here, because of course both teams have played playoff games in the same calendar year, just not from the same calendar seasons. It just makes sense that it will take a Chiefs team coming back from a 1-5 start to do it, because it's Kansas City.
Linebacker Derrick Johnson read to students on Monday at Banneker Elementary. Johnson's "Defend the Dream Foundation" has been transforming area schools' under-used spaces into well-equipped libraries, or as the foundation calls them, "Discovery Dens."
Johnson said his passion for learning comes from his mother, a teacher for more than 40 years.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (8-5)
The Chiefs didn't earn any style points with a 10-3 win over lowly San Diego, but it was good enough to extend Kansas City's winning streak to seven. (Last week: 7)
Ravens move to develop young players in final games of lost season from The Baltimore Sun
When Harbaugh reported to the Under Armour Performance Center early Monday morning and began to study film from Sunday's "painful" 35-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, he entered a new reality. For the first time since he became the Ravens head coach in 2008, his team is preparing for a game from which they have nothing to gain in the standings, and Harbaugh said the organization will act accordingly.
"That's what this is about right now for these young guys. Let's get out there and see how good you can get, how well you can play for the next three weeks of the season," Harbaugh said. "Our ending point this year is our jumping point next year. In our mind, next year's season has already begun. We're developing these guys. We're developing what we can be next year. So, let's go, man. Let's see how good we can get."
Steelers know another winning December will propel them into playoffs from The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The wild card is more of a viable option, but it might take 11 wins to get it done.
The Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets and Steelers are 8-5 and fighting for two spots with three games left. If all three teams win out, the Steelers will leapfrog the Jets into the sixth spot in the AFC based on winning percentage against common opponents.
"We are playing like it is playoff football for us right now," Gilbert said.
The Chiefs, who beat the Steelers in late October, have the easiest remaining schedule with games against Ravens, Browns and Raiders. The Jets have the toughest slate: the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills.
"We just have to win all the games, that's what it comes down to," center Cody Wallace said. "We can't control the outside stuff. We just have to keep doing what we've been doing the past couple weeks."
Ravens sign quarterback Ryan Mallett from The Baltimore Sun
After Joe Flacco went down with a season-ending left knee injury, the Ravens have started Matt Schaub in two games and Jimmy Clausen Sunday after Schaub suffered shoulder and chest injuries in the loss to the Miami Dolphins.
It's unclear who will start Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, but it seems unlikely to be Mallett, as he's been out of the NFL since he was cut by the Houston Texans in late October.
Why Bolts don't score TDs vs. rivals from The San Diego Union-Tribune
The Chargers have a very good quarterback. A sturdy chap, he's never missed a start 10 years into the job.
And yet, the Chargers don't score touchdowns.
The Chargers spent three draft picks last April on a running back who last year amassed 32 touchdowns for the University of Wisconsin.
He stands on the sideline when the Chargers get near the end zone.
And he watches the Chargers not score touchdowns.
The head coach, like so many head coaches the Charger hire, got the job by coaching offense.
Three years into his San Diego tenure, the offense doesn't score touchdowns.
Three AFC West games in the last four weeks, and not one touchdown for the Chargers.
Somewhere, Don Coryell weeps.
Hasselbeck also suggested keeping an eye on the improving Chiefs (8-5).
"I think Kansas City is going to be a tough out," he said. "And the reason I say it is, you mention what's happened in Cincinnati. Kansas City going to Cincinnati in the first round of the playoffs, I think Kansas City can win a playoff game on the road in Cincinnati. I don't think that's a stretch. So I think that just becomes a unique scenario there."