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Arrowheadlines: Kansas City Chiefs News 12/28

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VICTORY MONDAY! Again. Oh, and your Kansas City Chiefs are in the playoffs and could win the AFC West. It's a thing. Here is today's news, analysis and recaps. Enjoy!

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Game Recap: Chiefs Defeat Browns, 17-13, Clinch Playoff Berth from The Mothership

The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Cleveland Browns, 17-13, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri on Sunday afternoon. With the victory combined with a loss by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Chiefs have clinched a berth in the NFL playoffs.

"I'm proud of our football team, for the job that they did today," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said after the game. "We don't really care if it's by 1 point or by 21 points. We were 1-5 at one time, so every one of these things, we appreciate. We respect the opponent for the job they did, but at the same time, it's tough to string a bunch of games together in the National Football League. This is the National Football League and we haven't forgotten about that."

Once 1-5, Now Playoff Bound - The Chiefs Have Something Special from The Mothership

They were once 1-5, now they are playoff-bound.

That's what the Kansas City Chiefs accomplished with their 17-13 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, tying a franchise record with their ninth-consecutive victory.

"There's a very small margin between winning and losing in this league," Chiefs coach Andy Reid explained after the game, "and to maintain the focus you need to win back to back like this—that's probably the thing I'm most proud of for this group, is doing that."

Every win has been a little bit different, requiring different things of different people.

They've had injuries from players who haven't been able to return, and they've had players miss games and come back—all along the way asking the next man to step up and find a way to contribute to a victory, which they have.

Chiefs vs. Browns: 10 Observations from The Mothership

3. Alex Smith finds success through the air and on the ground

Alex Smith finished the first half 11 of 17 for 89 yards with 2 touchdowns and just 1 interception.

Midway through the third quarter and on a first-and-10 play from midfield, Smith hit receiver Albert Wilson for a gain of 19 yards, which broke Smith's previous career high in yards passing (3,313, 2013) in a season.

He had touchdown strikes to Jeremy Maclin for 11 yards and Travis Kelce for 13 yards, but the 6 rushes he had for 54 yards may have been the difference for the Chiefs in the first half, and they took a 17-3 lead to the locker room.

With those runs, Smith also broke his own franchise record for yards rushing in a season by a Chiefs quarterback, which was previously 413 yards set back in 2013.

KCChiefs.com Videos: Chiefs vs. Browns: Kansas City Highlights

Chiefs stave off Browns, clinch playoff berth with 17-13 win from The Kansas City Star

"I wasn't even sure who had to win or lose," said Reid, the Chiefs' coach. "I just knew we had to win."

Fortunately for Reid, Kyle Childress — his senior assistant — quickly filled him in. Turns out their victory, and Pittsburgh's loss to the Ravens, had clinched a spot in the playoffs.

Reid relayed the news in his weekly postgame speech, a message he kicked off to the loud cheers of his players with the "dab," a popular dance/gesture that players and coaches across the country have been doing for months.

"I didn't expect that," outside linebacker Dee Ford said with a laugh. "He gets some cool points from me."

"That got me so hyped when he did that," left guard Jeff Allen said. "I couldn't believe it — no one expected it. It came out of nowhere."

So yes, this was a time for celebration, and why not?

Chiefs survive poor second half, beat Cleveland 17-13 to make playoffs from Chiefs Digest

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said the ability of the Chiefs to stay focused on the next task at hand allowed them to climb out of what appeared to be an inescapable dilemma after six weeks.

"Stay the course; don't get caught up in what's being said and who is saying what," said Maclin, who caught an 11-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season with that catch. "You have to always remember it's not a sprint, it's a marathon."

Sunday's game was the toughest the Chiefs played during their current streak. They held a two-touchdown lead at halftime, but struggled to apply a knockout punch to the visiting Browns on offense, defense or in the kicking game. They were unable to score a point in the third and fourth quarters, producing just 58 offensive yards while allowing 190 yards, with a touchdown and field goal for Cleveland.

Chiefs hold off Browns for ninth straight victory from ESPN

"We still have one more week left and there's still a lot to play for," said quarterback Alex Smith, who threw two touchdown passes in a down-to-the-wire, 17-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

When Pittsburgh lost to Baltimore moments later, the Chiefs clinched at least a wild-card spot.

They can still win the AFC West and host a playoff game if they beat Oakland next week and the Broncos lose to Cincinnati on Monday night or in their regular-season finale against San Diego.

Playoff-bound Chiefs hold on to win ninth straight, 17-13 over Browns from The Associated Press via FS Kansas City

The former Heisman Trophy winner led Cleveland to 10 straight points, then had them in possession for a go-ahead touchdown before his incomplete pass to the end zone on fourth down with 2:55 left.

Kansas City had a chance to put the game away but failed to pick up a first down, and Cleveland took over at its 30 with 1:52 left and no timeouts. The Browns picked up three first downs, and Manziel hit Darius Jennings on fourth-and-10 from the 32.

But time expired before Manziel could get off another snap, and he spiked his helmet in frustration as the Chiefs poured onto the field.

Chiefs defense survives second-half marathon from The Kansas City Star

The Chiefs' offense couldn't stay on the field and the defense couldn't get off, usually a formula for disaster.

And without Pro Bowl outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, the task became that much more complicated.

But the Chiefs came up with enough stops to post a 17-13 triumph that clinched a spot in the playoffs.

Hitting milestones ties together Week 16 highs in win over Browns from Chiefs Digest

Nine straight wins. Not many of them have been pretty, but over the past nine weeks, the Chiefs have hailed victorious. Week 16 was no different, as the Kansas City Chiefs (10-5) outlasted the Cleveland Browns 17-13.

Shortly after the final whistle blew in Kansas City, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Baltimore Ravens, solidifying Kansas City's playoff spot. This marks the first time in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals where both teams have made the playoffs in the same season.

A glance back at Sunday's highs and lows:

Chiefs win ninth straight, secure playoff spot from ESPN

Early in the season, when the Kansas City Chiefs were off to a 1-5 start, chairman Clark Hunt supported general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid, saying they would continue in their jobs no matter how much worse things might get.

Meanwhile, Reid resisted any urge to make changes to a lineup he thought was good enough to put the Chiefs in the playoffs.

The Chiefs were rewarded for those decisions Sunday when they won their ninth straight game, this one against the Cleveland Browns.

The Chiefs won, or at least didn't lose, and now they have bigger goals than the playoffs from The Kansas City Star

You could see it in the body language after the game, even from a group that just became the second team in NFL history to go from 1-5 to the playoffs. They had a big celebration in the first moments back in the locker room, but after that, they sure acted like a group that just found out the postgame meal was catered by Subway.

"I mean, yeah, we got a win," running back Charcandrick West said. "But there's more to come. We're a better team than we just played."

Basically, the Chiefs know two things now that they did not know when they woke up on Sunday.

First, they're in the playoffs.

And second, once there, they will have to play much better than this: outgained by 110 yards against a bottom-feeding team that had no obvious intention of winning in a game unsecured until the Browns went full Browns and could not get a final play off.

Notebook: Chiefs' Jeff Allen returns to action with chip on shoulder from Chiefs Digest

"I got back in there ready to roll," he said. "Once I got that first drive out of my system, it was all right. It was the same."

The status quo for Allen means bringing a level of nastiness and physical play, which he accomplished on the Chiefs' second possession.

Allen led the way around the left side on running back Charcandrick West's 22-yard scamper and leveled not one, but two defenders down the field.

Week 16 game balls: Ryan Mallett, Johnny Manziel, Julio Jones among Sunday's stars from ESPN

CHIEFS 17, BROWNS 13

Johnny Manziel. His running changed the tone of the Browns' loss to Kansas City. Manziel's first scramble came late in the first half, and his running carried the offense on a 21-play drive in the second half. He finished with 108 yards on 11 carries and joined Marcus Mariota and Cam Newton as the only quarterbacks to run for 100 yards this season. -- Pat McManamon

Chairman Clark Hunt. He supported the general manager and coach when the Chiefs started season so poorly. He was rewarded with a playoff spot Sunday. -- Adam Teicher

Chiefs in playoffs, but mystery of seed and opponent remain from The Kansas City Star

Will the Chiefs make the playoffs? Yes.

Next are the specifics, which will be determined by the seeding.

That mystery will extend into the final weekend.

The Chiefs will take three seeding possibilities into next week, when they play the Raiders at home.

They can be the third, fifth or sixth seed, which means they'll be playing on the first weekend of the postseason, Jan. 9-10.

Exuberant Chiefs overcome 1-5 start to clinch postseason berth from Chiefs Digest

"You look at 1-5 and now we're in the playoffs," backup quarterback Chase Daniel said. "The camaraderie, the attitude, the heart, the will of this team is unmatched in anything I've ever seen.

"I mean, a lot of teams would pack it in at 1-5, forget about it. But because of the leadership of this team, just keep clawing and digging. Some of them have been big wins, some of them have been close wins, like today, but it's a win and that's all we care about."

Guard Jeff Allen agreed with Daniel.

"It's been special, man," Allen said. "I know 99 percent of the world didn't believe we would turn it around and make the playoffs, but we believed."

The players' faith in each other and the coaching staff put the Chiefs in the local and NFL record books.

NFL playoff picture: Patriots, Panthers still don't have home-field locked up from ESPN

5. Kansas City Chiefs (10-5) -- The Chiefs wrapped up a playoff berth by beating Cleveland to win their ninth straight. Kansas City is still nipping at Denver's heels for the AFC West title and has a great chance to close the regular season with 10 consecutive victories next week against Oakland.

Chiefs join Royals in postseason for first time in same season from The Kansas City Star

With the winning streak and Carolina's loss, in a manner of speaking, anyway, the Chiefs have become the hottest team in the NFL.

They also became just the first team since the 1970 Bengals to recover from a 1-5 start to make the playoffs.

"How sweet it is," linebacker Derrick Johnson said.

But what resonated with Rudd and should resound with Kansas City was the distinction that tethered these Chiefs to their neighbors across the street at the Truman Sports Complex:

For the first time in more than five decades since the Chiefs moved here from Dallas, Kansas City's pro football and baseball teams are in the playoffs in the same calendar season.

"Really, really cool," Rudd said as he paused amid his rounds in a somewhat more subdued atmosphere than he'd enjoyed in New York.

Chiefs fan Paul Rudd helps team celebrate playoff berth from ESPN

Actor and Kansas City Chiefs fan Paul Rudd banged on a drum to get the crowd fired up before the team's victory over the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

Jeremy Maclin becomes Chiefs' first 1,000-yard WR since 2011 from Chiefs Digest

The seventh-year pro became the first Chiefs wide receiver to achieve 1,000 yards receiving in a season since Dwayne Bowe, the player Maclin replaced, totaled 1,159 yards in 2011.

But Maclin chose to savor something bigger than his individual accomplishment.

"I'll tell you one thing, much sweeter now that we're in (the playoffs) than that," Maclin said. "I really don't get caught up in that. It's a milestone everybody else judges me by, but it really doesn't mean that much."

Regardless how Maclin feels about achieving a 1,000-yard receiving season, it is his second straight such campaign after he established a career-high 1,318 yards receiving in 2014 while with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Jeremy Maclin up, pass rush down in Chiefs' win from ESPN

UP

WR Jeremy Maclin: He further validated the Chiefs' decisions to release Dwayne Bowe and then sign him to be their No. 1 wide receiver. Maclin made a diving catch in the end zone of an 11-yard pass for the Chiefs' only touchdown and went over 1,000 yards for the season.

Don't look now, but Alex Smith is a pretty good QB from ESPN

Many will point to the Chiefs' defense as the catalyst for their resurgent season, but Alex Smith is quietly having one of the most efficient second halves of any player in the NFL.

Since the start of Week 7, the beginning of Kansas City's win streak, Smith has a 83.1 Total QBR, which ranks second in the NFL over that time behind Carson Palmer (84.9). Despite fewer plays than most other quarterbacks, he has contributed the fourth-most points to his team's scoring margin over the last 10 weeks.

Against the Browns on Sunday, Smith certainly wasn't flashy, but he put together another efficient game that illustrates some of the hidden ways he has contributed to Kansas City's success.

Please let Andy Reid be the last person to ever dab from SB Nation

Well, it's all over folks. No, not the Kansas City Chiefs' playoff hopes. Those are alive and well after defeating the Cleveland Browns, thereby clinching a playoff spot. They're still in contention for the AFC West division lead as well.

However, dabbing might be over now that Chiefs head coach Andy Reid started dabbing in celebration.

Kansas City Chiefs 17, Cleveland Browns 13: Jamie Turner's game review from Cleveland.com

Was there anything left in the Browns?

That was today's question, as an injured, maligned and uncertain franchise staggers to the finish just eight days away. But there was a heartbeat in the second half today, even if it ended in a 17-13 loss to Kansas City in one of the NFL's most intimidating locales -- Arrowhead Stadium.

A similar underdog a week ago in Seattle, the Browns were competitive for nearly a half. Today they were 18 yards from an improbable upset when the clock ran out.

As always, we had news and analysis throughout the game, augmented by observations from reporters and columnists from cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer, as well as throughout the NFL Twitterverse.

Chiefs earn playoff berth with win over Browns from NFL.com

Marcus Peters deserves plenty of hype for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after the first-round cornerback notched his eighth pick on the season, tying a franchise record for interceptions by a rookie. He's been an outstanding fit for Bob Sutton's productive secondary.

Chiefs 17, Browns 13: Johnny Manziel beats himself up for poor passing, others label him quarterback of future for dominant rushing from Ohio.com

Manziel was despondent because he was frustrated about his poor throwing. He completed 13-of-32 passes (40.6 percent) for 136 yards with an interception and a rating of 40.6.

"I don't think I was good enough in crunch time today," said Manziel, who went 8-of-21 passing in the second half, including 5-of-18 in the fourth quarter. "I thought I was extremely sub-par and cost us some points.

"So I'm pretty sour about it right now from a personal standpoint because I think the guys around me played good enough for us to win the game today. And I didn't do enough for them."

But Manziel's teammates and opponents raved about his ability to carry the Browns (3-12) with his legs. He rushed 11 times for 108 yards, a franchise record for a quarterback, to lead a run-driven rally and threaten the Chiefs (10-5) in the waning moments.

All the NFL Playoff Scenarios After a Wild and Crazy Sunday Afternoon With Three Huge Upsets from The Big Lead

It was a wild Sunday afternoon in the NFL, where some games that looked like mismatches turning out to be anything but. The Kansas City Chiefs managed to hold off a late attempt by Cleveland, who were big underdogs, but three other teams lost as favorites of a touchdown or more:

Patriots' coin toss decision brings back memories of 1962 AFL Championship Game gaffe from FOX News

Hank Stram, who would go on to lead the Chiefs to victory in Super Bowl IV, sent running back Abner Haynes out for the coin toss with instructions to take the wind, which was gusting to 40 miles per hour.

Haynes, however, misunderstood the directions and after the Texans won the toss, uttered, "We will kick to the clock."

The field announcer for the game was the legendary Jack Buck, father of FOX Sports' Joe Buck. He brought the sound to the audience.

While Haynes' gaffe remained a part of AFL lore, he was able to live it down as Tommy Brooker kicked a field goal in the second overtime, giving the Texans a 20-17 victory and the AFL Championship.

With Cairo Santos, Kansas City Chiefs advances and places Brazil for the 1st time in NFL playoffs from Superesportes [translated from the original Portuguese]

Brazil will be represented for the first time in the playoffs of the NFL, the American football league in the United States, scheduled to begin on January 9, 2016. On Sunday night, the Kansas City Chiefs, Team Brazil Cairo Santos, secured his passage with victory by 17-13 over the Cleveland Browns, at home, and the fall of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Inside Football: Who's got next in NFL? 11 hot coordinators top list from CBS Sports

Doug Pederson (Kansas City): Alex Smith has had a career year late in his career, the Chiefs haven't lost a game in two months and the offense actually got better after the loss of do-everything star running back Jamaal Charles. Another pupil of Andy Reid -- he has sent plenty of assistants to head-coaching jobs over the years -- who seems to have grown and developed under him and could be ready for his next challenge.