Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Taco Charlton’s third-quarter strip-sack of Brian Hoyer led the team to 26-10 victory on Monday night. Charlton leapt through New England offensive lineman Justin Herron to reach Hoyer, who coughed the ball up to Kansas City.
“That’s the good thing about having long arms — being able to reach around people,” noted Charlton after the game. “As I was coming around the corner, I saw he still had the ball right in front of me, so I knew it was a perfect opportunity for me to come around with my arms and knock the ball out. I saw the ball out and I decided to pull his arms back and hopefully one of our guys would come up with it — and that’s what happened. I made a big play and we were able to score off it and capitalize.”
The Chiefs extended their lead to 13-3 from the fourth-quarter turnover, breaking the ice in what had been a defensive struggle.
“Taco’s made some good plays for us, so that was one of them for sure,” said head coach Andy Reid. “It’s great for his career going forward, so that’s a positive thing for him. He’s all in for right now and enjoys being here and working hard.”
The Chiefs acquired the former Dallas Cowboys first-round pick when his next team — the Miami Dolphins — chose to waive him in April. Charlton landed in Kansas City, where he’d enter a locker room with a familiar face.
Defensive end Frank Clark played with Charlton for two seasons at Michigan (2013-14) before he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. Charlton said as soon as he cleared waivers from the Dolphins, he was on the phone with Clark.
Clark — who also had a key sack against the Patriots — said the two talked about games like Monday night’s when the Chiefs wound up being a fit.
He will be legend I promise that. pic.twitter.com/NtBlFPlaDz— Frank Clark (@TheRealFrankC_) May 2, 2020
“That’s my dog, man,” Clark said of Charlton after the game. “We’ve been around doing this stuff for a long time now, and just, to finally really be out there. I didn’t really have a lot of chance to play with Taco in college because he was so much younger than me, and I was the starter at my position. I believe he was like a three there. He didn’t even have it there, you know what I’m saying? Next thing I know, you fast forward and I’m in the NFL as a rookie in 2015 and this man is about to be a first-round pick. It was kind of one of those like, ‘Damn, man. I’m so happy just for the progress that he made up until this point.’”
The Cowboys selected Charlton with the 28th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but the team moved on from him three years into his rookie contract. Charlton had nine sacks during three years with the Cowboys and Dolphins.
He already has two in three games with the Chiefs.
“He’s still proving them wrong,” added Clark. “Everybody was looking at Taco last year and the years before that like the man couldn’t do his job, or he didn’t know how to rush the passer, he didn’t know how to play the run or whatever, and you see the man making plays. Sometimes these guys just need a chance just to show what they can do. Sometimes, it’s not them. It could be the system they in. If you know him right now, and you ask him how he’s feeling being in Kansas City, he’d tell you he’s having a blast.”
What has been appealing to Charlton had been the camaraderie and brotherhood that exists in the Chiefs locker room — and one can assume that winning helps, too.
Charlton said after the game he wants to try to make things happen for the team to better the chances of “running it back.” As you would expect, that sits well with his fellow Chief and former Wolverine.
“I was hella proud,” Clark said. “I’ve been playing with this dude, knowing this dude for almost what? 10 years plus. And just seeing him out there making the plays he’s making remind me of days back when we was younger — when I used to coach him up and tell him different things, and we used to be in practice, going back and forth, you know what I’m saying? And then just to see him, what, six or seven years later down the road doing what he does and stripping the ball and making big plays to help us win, man. You know — that’s what you want to see as one of the older guys in this league.”