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Clyde Edwards-Helaire played major role in Chiefs’ win over Cowboys

The Kansas City running back had 12 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown.

NFL: NOV 21 Cowboys at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As Kansas City Chiefs starting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire crossed the goal line for a touchdown in his return game against the Dallas Cowboys, he pointed at linebacker Luke Gifford.

Instant penalty flag. Taunting. 15 yards to be added to the extra point.

Edwards-Helaire can hardly be blamed. Sure... perhaps it was a brief lapse in judgment. But it had been a long road back for the running back, who had missed the last five games due to a sprained MCL.

“There’s nothing to really talk through,” Edwards-Helaire said regarding the penalty after the game. “[Pat Mahomes] pitched it; I showed my personality. We’ve talked about it, being me and playing football. That’s just what it is. You get the taunting penalty. It’s 15 yards. You take it with a grain of salt at the time and go to the next play. Butker kicks a 40-yard field goal, an extra point, and we make it happen, and it’s on to the next play.”

It may have been fair to say that offensive coordinator Eric Bienieny was initially less than pleased before giving way to the celebration.

“It’s one of those things,” added Edwards-Helaire. “You have to be a real strong-minded player to play for EB, and a lot of people wouldn’t be able to. I just went to the sideline, knowing I was going to hear him. I’ve been playing for him, so I know. Then here comes [Travis Kelce], here comes the offense right behind me. It’s more than just the things that you all see; it’s a brotherhood. Me and EB going back and forth one-on-one. I buy a pair of shoes, then we’re arguing about the color. Literally, those are the things that go on throughout the week. It’s a relationship. Everybody sees one thing, but it’s one thing when it’s just us.”

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, who complimented the second-year running back for playing well and staying aggressive in his opening statement, described his conversation with Edwards-Helaire after the play.

“You can’t point; you can’t do anything,” said Reid. “The union was part of that. They agreed to all of this. Better off just go and play football and celebrate with your teammates and not mess around with the other team.”

It is unlikely Edwards-Helaire will take a taunting penalty the rest of the season, given the discipline he has shown in his two years as the Chiefs’ starting back. The back is wired to take instruction and implement it on the field — just as he did in his return performance, in which he accumulated 12 carries for 63 yards and the score.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes praised Edwards-Helaire for being a steady force in a somewhat shaky offensive performance from the Chiefs on Sunday.

“He rolled,” said Mahomes. “It was a good defensive front, a good defense, and he was finding little creases here and there to make some stuff happen — and I thought the offensive line did a great job getting him those windows. We’ll keep incorporating him more and more. I mean, he looked healthy, so just glad to have him back — and hopefully, we can find ways to throw him some passes too. He’s pretty good out of the backfield as well.”

Edwards-Helaire also caught both of his targets for 13 yards and showed a bit more elusiveness than the ground game might have offered in his absence.

Edwards-Helaire’s injury was his second in as many years. The 2020 injury came toward the end of the season, as he was developing into an integral part of the offense. 2021’s injury took place after he had put together back-to-back 100-rushing yard efforts.

The back was not shy in describing the long five weeks of rehab after the game.

“It’s hard,” said Edwards-Helaire. “Being a young player, man, and really, I vividly remember telling my brother, ‘Every time I hit my stride, it just seemed like something’s happening.’ Then you got media saying whatever, and then [my brother said], ‘Bro, you’re in the position that you’re supposed to be in, and then, whatever happens on the field, it happens. You can’t sit there and dwell on it.’

“Now, at the time, everybody’s going to tell you, ‘You can’t be mad,’ or, ‘Do this. Do that.’ Yeah, you’re frustrated. You’re mad. You want to play ball. Like I was telling them, man, I do this seven days a week. I go to the facility every day, and when somebody tells you that you can’t go do that, it’s frustrating. But you have to figure out another way to try to get that fixed, so now it was, ‘OK, I can’t do that, so I need to try to figure out [what to do].’”

Dallas Cowboys v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

As Edwards-Healire dealt with hamstring injuries stemming from the MCL issue, he did anything he could to stay involved.

“Go deeper in film, mental reps as far as watching practice,” listed the running back. “I need to mentally trick myself as far as tell my body doing it when I’m really not. That’s what makes you a pro. I feel like that’s what sets me apart from the next person. Everybody can’t say they put as much work as I did when I was hurt comparable to the next person. Everybody can speak for themselves — but I’m me. And that’s just what it is.”

With Edwards-Helaire out, his old LSU and current Chiefs teammate, Darrel Williams, became the primary back, filling in admirably. As it turned out, Williams was also playing a role behind the scenes, doing what he could to make sure Edwards-Helaire stayed positive and got his work in.

“When I got drafted here, I was like, ‘It’s a blessing in disguise,’” remembered Edwards-Helaire. “Just knowing that there’s going to be those times that, unfortunately, that I was hurt, you’re going to have guys like Dirt [Williams] calling you, making sure you’re doing the right thing off the field... We were at practice, and it’s, ‘What you did when we were at practice and how did you get it done?’ It might not be exactly like a coach. It’s more like an older brother, and that’s just what it was.”

Edwards-Helaire returned to practice ahead of the Week 10 matchup against the Green Bay Packers, but he was not ready. Some questioned if the Chiefs would wait another week with the bye ahead, but Reid saw enough from Edwards-Helaire that he felt it was time to make the call.

“Coach Reid doesn’t roll like that,” said Edwards-Helaire. “If you’re going to go out, you’re either going to practice full or you’re going to go into rehab. And it’s just simple as that.”

Edwards-Helaire said that initially after the injury, he had trouble walking. Five weeks later, his on-field performance played a significant role in a grind-it-out victory against one of the NFC’s best.