With the Kansas City Chiefs already clinching their spot in the playoffs, the team didn’t have much at stake during their 13-12 Week 18 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. However, that wasn’t the case for all of the Chiefs’ players.
Kansas City defensive lineman Chris Jones entered the regular season finale with 9.5 sacks on the year — just half a sack shy of earning a huge $1.25 million contract incentive. While he came close to achieving that goal several times in the first half, Jones finally got the job done on this play midway through the third quarter.
“It was great to get Chris [Jones] that sack,” said head coach Andy Reid after the game. “The one sack took him a little bit but if he ain’t hurt, he’s getting there, so he really played a good game.”
After a lengthy offseason contract holdout which lasted until after Week 1 of the regular season, Jones and the Chiefs agreed to a new one-year contract loaded with multiple incentives, including one for recording 10 sacks this season. Fast forward 17 weeks later, Jones was determined to achieve the milestone in the final game of the regular season in which Reid happily obliged him.
Chiefs' Chris Jones talks about the on-field conversation he had with Chargers QB Easton Stick while pursuing his 10th sack: "I'm gonna get your ass." pic.twitter.com/VGRZ6J4eW5— Jesse Newell (@jessenewell) January 8, 2024
“I was only supposed to play for one quarter,” Jones explained. “Then one quarter turned into two quarters, then two quarters turned into, ‘Please coach let me get one more drive.’ So, I’m thankful for coach Reid. He allowed me to play because this was more so our bye week, and I didn’t have to play. But, the team allowed me to play, so I’m super thankful.”
On the flip side of this situation, tight end Travis Kelce did not suit up for Sunday’s game. The future Hall of Famer was just 16 yards short of another 1,000-yard season which would’ve marked the eighth consecutive 1,000-yard season of his career — the most of any tight end by a wide margin in NFL history. Although Reid was willing to give Kelce the opportunity to gain the necessary yardage just like he did with Jones, he says his All-Pro tight end didn’t feel right achieving the milestone in that fashion.
“Travis is a humble, humble guy,” Reid said. “It’s different because of the financial part of it with Chris. He didn’t want it to be selfish or come across as selfish. I mean all the players wanted him to play, but he just goes, ‘You know what, I don’t like the way it feels.’ He’s not into that, and so he chose not to play. I completely understand it, but that’s him. I mean most guys would have gone out and probably done it, but he said I’ve got a lot of records and this one here, I’m not going to do it this way.”
The two situations highlight the unique dichotomy of Week 18 for the Chiefs as they balanced a cautious approach in preparation for the playoffs with rewarding their players for their hard work throughout the season.
Having said that, the Chiefs’ celebratory embrace for Jones after recording his million-dollar sack shows how important these things are for the team. It made for a nice way to cap off the regular season as they officially begin their postseason title defense during next week’s Wild Card Weekend.
Chris Jones reached a top speed of 14.85 mph running to the sideline on his celebration, which would be his 2nd-fastest speed on any play today.@StoneColdJones | #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/z6nDOuZfFE— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) January 7, 2024
“You can see by the response of the players that it meant a bunch,” Reid noted of the sideline’s reaction to Jones’ sack. “Not only to him but to the guys, they were all on board pulling for him. That’s kind of the neat thing about that.
“But yeah, you know, that is a couple of cheeseburgers right there that he made.”