The Chiefs lost roughly one-third of their yardage output when they lost Jamaal Charles to a season-ending knee injury. Then, something amazing happened -- they rallied around their remaining running backs, kept pounding the ball, and became an ever scarier offense. It served as a galvanizing moment for a team that’d go 11-1 without their preeminent NFL ballcarrier.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY SportsDenny Medley
Eric Berry opted to insert two separate needles with every treatment he received. The first distributed cancer-fighting agents into his bloodstream. The second? An I.V. line, which kept the star safety hydrated enough to lift weights and work out in preparation for a return that was never guaranteed. Berry battled through, beat Hodgkins lymphoma, and returned to the Kansas City Chiefs one pound over his normal playing weight. What a story.
Getty ImagesWesley Hitt
Best play of the season
Everyone pitched in to replace Charles’ rushing output in 2015 — even their mammoth nose tackle. Dontari Poe’s one-yard scoring rumble in Week 11 was a thing of beauty. It was also the fattest of fat guy touchdowns; at 346 pounds, Poe became the heaviest NFLer to ever find the end zone. He threw in a dab for good measure.
Getty ImagesSean M. Haffey
Worst loss of the season
K.C. felt confident they’d snag their first win over the Peyton Manning-led Broncos. That confidence was tested when Manning led a last-minute, game-tying drive. And it was shattered when Charles inexplicably fumbled with 27 seconds to go, handing the Broncos a game-winning score.
Denver Post via Getty ImagesAAron Ontiveroz
No single player changed Kansas City’s fortunes quite like Jeremy Maclin did. Consider that the Missouri product became just the eighth receiver in team history to top 1,000 yards. He tallied the most catches (84) by any Chief not named Tony Gonzalez (96 in 2008). And his eight scores were eight more than the entire receiving corps managed all last season. He was worth every penny of his $55 million contract.
Getty ImagesScott Halleran
Best offseason acquisition
He had off-field concerns. He was benched for the better part of his junior season. But general manager John Dorsey still rolled the dice on Marcus Peters with the 18th pick in the 2015 draft. The Washington product rewarded their trust with a Defensive Rookie of the Year-caliber season (eight interceptions, two forced fumbles, one touchdown) that’ll make him the cornerstone of their defense for years to come.
APEric Christian Smith
Char-who? Charcandrick, that’s who. The undrafted second-year back out of Abilene Christian is no longer an unknown. He amassed 844 total yards since taking over for Charles and could still merit carries when No. 25 returns. That's how good he looked on the field in 2015.
Getty ImagesAlan Crowhurst
Andy Reid can motivate players. He can turnaround seasons. He can assemble rosters and revive careers. But for some reason, the Chiefs’ head coach can’t manage the game clock. Their season-ending loss in New England was just the latest example of Reid’s Achilles heel; he let minute after minute unnecessarily bleed off the clock, further strangling his team’s fourth-quarter comeback hopes. It was maddening and saddening all at once.