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Chiefs beat Raiders 56-31 behind career day from Charles, clinch playoff berth

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness ….” Charles Dickens, the opening line from A Tale of Two Cities.

In the highest-scoring game in the 110-game history of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders series, the Chiefs used a smoking-hot start to the game and a suffocating fourth quarter to win 56-31 and move back into a first-place tie with the Denver Broncos in the AFC West. The Chiefs also clinched their first playoff berth since the 2010 season.

Both critics and fans of Kansas City (11-3) will be unable to talk about anything but the performance of running back Jamaal Charles, and how the Chiefs played a game that was a real-life example of Charles Dickens famous opening line to his classic story. Their best was awesome, but their worst flashed people back to the 2012 team.

The Chiefs showed the BEST OF TIMES in the performances of quarterback Alex Smith and Charles. Smith was magnificent Sunday, completing 17-of-20 passes for 277 yards and a career-best five touchdowns in his triumphant return to the Bay Area, his first since being traded from San Francisco to KC this past offseason.

Smith posted a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3, and if any of his critics across the bay says it was all Charles, even if you take away the throws to #25, Smith had a 116.4 rating. Not too shabby for a “game manager”. Besides, nobody got all over Peyton Manning when he threw four touchdowns to Eric Decker three weeks ago in the Broncos 35-28 win over the Chiefs at Arrowhead.

After the game, Smith was modest and deflected most of the credit to Charles.

“I didn't do much,” Smith said. “I mean three screens for touchdowns? I've never been a part of anything like that or seen that.”

Charles was downright otherworldly, rushing for 20 yards and 1 touchdown, but catching eight passes for 195 yards and four touchdowns. Charles is the first player in NFL history with at least four TD receptions and one TD run in a single game.

Charles joined Shaun Alexander, Jerry Rice and Clinton Portis as the only players since the AFL-NFL merger to score five touchdowns and gain at least 200 yards from scrimmage in a single game.

His five TDs tied Abner Haynes’ franchise record, ironically set against the Oakland Raiders back in November of 1961 when the Chiefs were still known as the Dallas Texans. Charles ended up just one short of the NFL record of six touchdowns, set by Ernie Nevers (November, 1929), Dub Jones (November, 1951) and the Kansas Comet, Gale Sayers (December, 1965).

But the most impressive part of his day was that he did all of this in just three quarters of play. Charles was given the fourth quarter off, otherwise he might have scored seven times.

Continuing the best of times theme, the Chiefs defense and special teams forced seven Raiders turnovers which lead to 35 points for the Chiefs. Eric Berry got in on the scoring parade with a 47-yard interception return for a touchdown that put KC up 21-3 with five minutes left in the first quarter.

There is also:

  • The 56 points are the most ever given up by the Raiders in their history
  • The Chiefs have now posted the highest score of any team in the NFL this season (take that, Peyton!)
  • The Chiefs scored 35 points in the first half which followed the 38 scored last week against Washington. They are the only team in NFL history to do that and they've now done it twice. The 2002 Chiefs of the Trent Green/Priest Holmes era also accomplished that feat.
  • The Chiefs tied the NFL record of 11 wins by a team that lost at least 14 games the year before.
  • With 399 points scored on the season, the Chiefs are the #3 scoring team in the NFL and #4 in point differential, generally one of the key statistics for predicting playoff success.
  • Berry’s touchdown return was the Chiefs 11th of the season, tying the franchise record (1992, 1999)

For much of the first half and all of the fourth quarter, the Chiefs had played a nearly flawless game. But for some unknown reason the WORST OF TIMES on defense and special teams reared its ugly head. And many of the concerns and weaknesses the defense has shown over the last five games came up again.

From the 8:00 mark of the second quarter through the 5:00 mark of the third quarter, the Chiefs defense couldn’t tackle, couldn’t cover, and made Raiders QB Matt McGloin look like the second coming of Kenny Stabler. Honestly, during two of the Raiders offensive series in the second half, he looked more like Peyton Manning!

With the Chiefs comfortably leading 35-10 in the second quarter, the Raiders scored 21 unanswered points, mostly aided by boneheaded mistakes and penalties by the defense and special teams.

The Chiefs had several personal fouls and pass interference penalties that extended Raider drives. The play that had most Chiefs fans throwing their remotes at the TV was a 4th down play for the Raiders who were lined up to punt the ball to KC.

Inexplicably, the Chiefs failed to cover either of the Raiders “gunners” – the players who line up the farthest from the center and who run down to cover the punts and tackle the punt returner.

The Raiders noticed this error, audibled to a fake punt, and fullback Marcel Reese – a thorn in KC’s side all day long – completed a 22-yard pass to uncovered gunner Chimdi Chekwa for a first down. The crowd – as well as the Raiders – were back into the game.

Another defensive problem reared its head when the defense once again gave up a touchdown just before halftime and then allowed the opponent to take the first possession of the second half and drive for a score.

The KC offense began the second half with one of their only three-and-out series and by the time they got the ball back, Oakland had scored those 21 straight points and were only down 35-31. The Black Hole was shaking, rocking and rolling.

But then on the next Chiefs series, Smith and Charles connected on another screen pass and 71-yards later, Charles waltzed into the end zone 15 yards ahead of any Raider defender. 42-31 Chiefs and about to get bigger.

On the ensuing kickoff, the special teams made up for a couple of bone-headed plays in the first half. Chiefs’ receiver WR A.J. Jenkins and rookie linebacker Josh Martin hit Raiders returner Taiwan Jones at the Oakland 29-yard line forcing what appeared to be a fumble, but the officials ruled that Jones was down by contact, so no fumble.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid challenged the call and it was reversed. The officials ruled that Hussain Abdullah had recovered the fumble for KC, giving the Chiefs possession on the 29-yard line.

Four plays later, Smith connected on a 6-yard pass with tight end Sean “Duck Dynasty” McGrath for his fifth TD pass of the day. In just a few moments, the 35-31 nail biter was 49-31 and the Raiders lost all their energy and fight.

The fourth quarter was a replay of domination by the Chiefs defense – the kind of play that the team rode to their 9-0 start – and for the second consecutive week, the Chiefs back-ups finished the game.

Running back Knile Davis and quarterback Chase Daniel took over for Charles and Smith in the fourth quarter. Davis, much to the delight of Chiefs Nation, ran with fresh legs and power and for the second week in a row, and bulldozed his way into the end zone on a 17-yard run that made the score 56-31 Chiefs.

The Chiefs return to Arrowhead next Sunday to face the Indianapolis Colts, the team many think the Chiefs will be facing in the first round of the playoffs if the Broncos win the AFC West title and get the first round bye.

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