Hill now has nine touchdowns on the season, which is four more than any other player on the team. "He's very intelligent," said Reid when asked why Hill has developed so quickly. "I'm not sure people know that but his aptitude tests are way up there. He picks things up easily. We're moving him all over the place. And he wants to be good. There has to be a want-to involved with that. He wants to be the best one out there."
Coach Andy Reid said the streak puts Kelce in rare company, but the believes the tight end can accomplish more. "It’s important that he just stays on top of it," Reid said. "You can even do better. There are are some plays there that he wished he’d have back." Kelce joked after the game he expects to gain 100 or 200 yards every game.
First thing’s first. The Chiefs have beaten their third straight playoff team, and their most recent triumph was against a team many believed to be the best in the conference. The Chiefs controlled the line of scrimmage Thursday night and outplayed and outcoached the Raiders for the second time this season.
Tyreek Hill, whose presence in the 2016 NFL Draft was a reminder of the league’s controversial handling of abuse, knows that another violent incident in his personal life could be career-threatening under the league’s "forgive-but-don’t-forget" approach to such incidents. It’s a situation the Kansas City Chiefs rookie understands and vows will never happen again.
This isn’t a shocking development for the Chiefs, who entered the game ranked sixth in the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage defense. Opponents had gotten touchdowns on 48.8 percent of the trips to the 20. "Everything is fast in the red zone," Ford said. "It’s quick. If everybody does their job and makes the plays their supposed to make, this is what happens."
The West's winner will almost certainly receive a first-round bye and host an AFC divisional-round playoff game. There's a good chance that the West winner could have home-field advantage in the AFC Championship Game as well — the New England Patriots have two tough road games remaining this season against Denver and Miami.
Johnson, a four-time Pro Bowler, threw his helmet in frustration after the injury. He had to be helped off the field without putting any weight on his foot, and the Chiefs immediately ruled him out for the game. "A sad deal there,'' Reid said. "I felt a little bit of a letdown when it happened."
In the last three weeks alone, they beat a top-three defense, a top-three offense, and a top-five offense. Two of those wins were on the road. The other gave them a season sweep against the Raiders, who have lost only one other game. The Chiefs have beaten both Super Bowl teams on the road, and three teams that are currently tied for first place in their divisions. They have won 21 of their last 25 games, a stretch that started a month before the Royals’ parade. "Everything we want to achieve is right in front of us," receiver Jeremy Maclin said.
The next men up at inside linebacker would be 2015 fourth-round pick Ramik Wilson, who has generally played well this season, and 2015 fifth-round pick D.J. Alexander, who is primarily a special teams player. With Johnson out, the Chiefs also turned to safety Daniel Sorensen, their nickel/dime linebacker. The Chiefs already have two contributors, Justin March-Lillard (hand) and Josh Mauga (shoulder), on injured reserve. But teams are allowed to bring one player a year off IR, and the Chiefs have not done so yet.
In holding the Raiders to just one field goal in those two red zone trips en route to a 21-13 AFC West-altering win, the Chiefs showed championship mettle. Carr completed only one of his six passing attempts for zero yards in those two drives, the second of which ended with an aborted field goal attempt after a bad snap.
The Chiefs are also a threat to win the AFC and advance to the Super Bowl because of the speedy rookie. Kansas City has been wildly inconsistent with the ball this season but suddenly looks capable of generating enough offense. That includes Hill's work as a kick returner, of course.
"I’m pissed," Raiders left tackle Donald Penn said. "We had control and we gave it to somebody else. You don’t have too many times where you’ve got control like that and you can just take it."
Hill didn’t seem bothered by the cold, scorching the Raiders for a 36-yard TD reception before bringing a punt back 78 yards for another score. It made him the first rookie since Gale Sayers in 1965 with touchdowns on the ground, through the air and on punt and kickoff returns in a single season.