2016 was a fun year. A REALLY fun year.
At the end of a season (at least, one where there’s no Super Bowl title, which, uh, is usually the case) it’s easy to lose sight of the moments we enjoyed as the year went on. For me, though, it’s very important to keep in mind the things that made football entertaining. Because that’s the principal (principle? I’d look it up, but I’m lazy and kind of a bad person) reason I watch football: I want to be entertained.
And I was entertained a LOT this year. 2016 brought plenty of moments of pure fun and moments of pure joy (those are two different things, mind you), and I want to talk about those moments.
Keep in mind this is a personal list. These are MY top 10 best moments of the season. Yours would likely be different, and I’d love to read about them in the comments below. I was going to attempt to do this all in one article, but let’s face it... there was too much to say. So let’d do moments 6-10 today and save moments 1-5 for next time (hopefully tomorrow). In the meantime, here are a few honorable mentions.
Justin Houston dominates Denver’s offensive line
We were all a little nervous after Houston had a relatively quiet outing his first game back. Then, on national television, he basically breathed fire onto the Denver Broncos for an entire half of football. I have never seen a defensive player take over a game to that extent. It was a reminder that a healthy Justin Houston is quite literally one of the best five defensive players in football.
Pick Party against the Jets
This one very nearly made the top 10 for me, as I was in attendance at the game. There was something magical about watching one pass after another get intercepted by the Chiefs. At a certain point, it started to feel like every time FitzHarvard dropped back to throw it was more likely to be intercepted than caught by a Jets receiver, and the crowd would buzz with anticipation (and was awarded more than once with a pick).
Tyreek Hill gets his name chanted, rewards fans with a touchdown
Everyone has heard about this moment, and many would rank it as one of the top moments of the season. For me, it falls off the list due to the fact that I didn’t even notice it was happening at the time. I think this was one of those moments that becomes unforgettable for people who are present to see it (we’ll talk about that later on when you see what my number one moment is), but for this guy, it was only cool to hear about after the fact. That takes you down a peg.
All right, we’ve got a lot to talk about. Let’s dig right in.
Number 10: LDT and Morse Bury a Headhunter
I’m going to be really honest with you: I don’t like the Chargers’ Jahleel Addae. Maybe he’s a really nice guy in real life, but on the field he’s a scumbag, headshot-taking, concussion-causing, I’m-trying-to-injure-you schmuck. It’s just the truth. This is a guy who Alex Smith, a pretty low-key dude, got face-to-face with due to a ridiculous cheap shot (one of many) on an attempted slide by Alex. Seriously, I don’t think he belongs in the league, and I don’t say that about anyone (even Von Miller and other “sometimes” cheap shot artists).
Which is why it was so very satisfying to watch LDT (and to a lesser extent, Mitch Morse) completely BURY Addae on Tyreek Hill’s first NFL touchdown. Let’s watch.
So who wants to watch LDT (and then Morse) run over professional headhunter Jahleel Addae like a freight train? pic.twitter.com/RB6eL5pzyj— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) September 13, 2016
I have watched that GIF at least a hundred times, and I still smile when I see that. Among the things that make it great: the fact that he didn’t see it coming, the fact that he thought he was going to be a hero, the fact that LDT clearly knew exactly who it was he was going to bury and definitely put a little extra sauce into it, and the fact that Morse wanted SO BADLY to be a part of laying Addae out that he jumped on for good measure.
It wasn’t even close to one of the more important moments of the season, but it was absolutely one of the most fun.
Number 9: Derrick Johnson Eliminates all Life in Oakland
I love Derrick Johnson. I love the way he talks, I love the way he leads, I love the way he seems to fall out of the sky and right into the path of incoming runners, I love the way he sidesteps blockers like a matador a half-dozen times a game... seriously, I love that man. It’s probably a bit unhealthy at this point.
Seeing DJ go down this season was one of the hardest things we had to experience as fans, and we’ll never know just how important that injury was (do the Chiefs lose to the Titans with a healthy DJ? Hhow about the Steelers?). But before DJ went down, he did this (h/t to Clay Wendler for the eternal happiness of Jim Ross):
Good god almighty Derrick Johnson @ArrowheadPride https://t.co/gdU0976s5K— Clay Wendler (@ClayWendler) October 16, 2016
Everything about that is perfect. The fantastic recognition. The closing speed that no old inside linebacker is supposed to possess. The DJ shimmy, which is arguably my favorite celebration in sports everywhere (and happens only rarely after a major blowup). I’m not thrilled that the Raider in question got hurt, but you have to admit seeing Tamba Hali and Dee Ford survey the carnage (watch Tamba look at the back and then look at DJ) like, “sweet merciful God, man, what have you done?” is pretty fantastic as well.
This play put an exclamation mark on the Chiefs taking everyone’s preseason darling and elite offense Oakland Raiders and chewing them up in their house, walking away with a 26-10 win where Oakland’s offense looked anemic and their defense looked... uh... what’s worse than anemic? Anyways, if you didn’t jump up and shout when DJ did what DJ does here, you have no soul.
Number 8: Alex Smith Goes Full Leonidas
There are any number of moments from the ridiculous Week 1 comeback against the San Diego... um... Los Angeles (yeah, that’s weird. Really weird) Chargers that could make this list. Spencer Ware would be part of many of them. Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce as well.
But for just one week, Alex Smith dropped the game manager, buttoned-down appearance, chucked the team on his back (along with Ware and his broad shoulders), and hauled them to a desperate overtime victory on an option plunge into the end zone.
Looking back, that entire game feels surreal for many reasons. But none more than the lasting image we all took from it, which was Alex shedding his conservative demons for just a moment to be a man of absolute primal ferocity.
#Chiefs QB Alex Smith shouted in celebration after scoring OT-winning TD for 33-27 win over #Chargers. @KCStar pic.twitter.com/zWW6n6BUCU— David Eulitt (@davidphotokc) September 11, 2016
That, my friends, was a fun moment. And for at least a week, there was peace in Chiefs Kingdom with regards to Alex Smith (well, not really. But history is revisionist. Get used to it).
Number 7: Chris Jones Double Ownage
I am really excited about Chris Jones. As a rookie, Jones became one of the better interior pass rushers in the league (true statement, come at me “sacks are all that matters” crowd), based in large part on his unnatural brute strength and above-average athleticism to pair along with it.
There were moments in every game this year when Jones took an NFL offensive lineman and either chucked him aside like yesterday’s paper, drove him backward like he was made of cardboard, or stepped around him like a (insert simile here, I’m fresh out) using his superior quickness. He’s a joy to watch, and should only get better from here as he improves on his pad level and play recognition.
I could have picked any number of times I shrieked with delight over Jones ruining a formerly proud man’s day, but none stood out more than this moment against the Raiders.
When you get owned twice in one play by Chris Jones. This is my new favorite gif of the year. pic.twitter.com/1kO4CLuCzV— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) December 15, 2016
I’d explain why that makes the list... but do you really need me to? In short, this play represents to me what makes Jones so special. He uses his strength to hold up against the initial double team (however brief it may be, it’s tough to not move an inch), then uses his frighteningly effective swim move (he has a variety of moves that is rare for a rookie) and athleticism to go right by the guard.
And then, to top it all off, the guard thinks he’ll get payback for being embarrassed by taking a shot when Jones isn’t looking and... nope. Just nope. He gets flattened by a guy who barely has time to set his feet.
Chris Jones. Remember the name.
A Moment of Pure Joy, Featuring Jamaal Charles
I’m not going to talk about how much Charles means to me as a player again. I’ve done it plenty on this site, both when he got injured against the Bears in 2015 and when it was finally determined for good that he wouldn’t be returning in 2016 (here, and here, respectively). So there’s really thing left to say other than he’s my favorite Chief of all time (a fact I did not even realize until this season, maybe too late) and watching him is special.
It might seem weird that I’m including anything about Charles in what has otherwise been a happy walk down memory lane, but I want to bring you back to earlier this season, when the Chiefs ran over the Raiders and looked like they were about to evolve into a smashmouth team.
Charles looks like Charles to me. Still gets vertical and is 5 yards past the LOS before you have time to say "someone missed their gap." pic.twitter.com/K7d0BNkthF— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) October 17, 2016
It was just one run in a fairly quiet performance for Charles, but for just a little while I thought he was back. I thought we were getting the fairy tail. I thought we’d see that Charles/Ware tandem that felt (at the time) completely unstoppable, never mind what he would look like sharing a field with Tyreek Hill.
But he looked like HIM. He was cutting with ease, bursting to top speed instantly, and doing all his usual “I’m running on the same surface as you humans, it just looks cooler” stuff. He took a short pass and used his magical 6th gear to destroy a linebacker’s angle and gain extra yards. He was back.
Of course ... that ended how it ended. But I cannot talk about this season without talking about those moments when I thought Jamaal Charles was going to be on that field doing what he does again, because it was as happy as almost any moment I’ve ever had watching the Chiefs. I’d rather watch Jamaal Charles run the ball once than anyone else a hundred times, and the optimist in me will remember that I got to see it just a few extra times this season.
We’ll crank out the rest soon. I’ve already picked my top five, but feel free to tell me some of yours below. Maybe it’ll even bump one of mine (though I seriously doubt it). I will say one thing for this season: there was no shortage of great moments.