Berry close: Chiefs win another thriller, beat Falcons 29-28
ATLANTA — What a homecoming for Eric Berry.
A pick six, a pick two and a victory he’ll never forget.
After Atlanta grabbed the lead with less than 5 minutes to go, Berry intercepted a 2-point conversion pass by Matt Ryan and returned it 99 yards to give Kansas City an improbable 29-28 triumph over the Falcons on Sunday.
There were plenty of tears, to be sure.
Berry grew up in suburban Atlanta and was playing in the city for the first time as a pro. His mother was in the stands at the Georgia Dome, cheering him on. But, most poignantly, this was where he returned for treatment after a mass found his chest near the end of the 2014 season turned out to be Hodgkin’s lymphoma .
"The last time I came home during the season it was to get chemotherapy," Berry said. "I take pride in a lot of things that people take for granted, so when opportunities come my way I just cherish them and try to make the most of them."
Boy, did he ever.
In the final minute of the first half, Berry stepped in front of Ryan’s throw over the middle and returned that pick 37 yards for a touchdown that gave the Chiefs their first lead. After scoring, Berry found his mom — wearing his No. 29 jersey– and delivered her the ball. She blew him back a kiss.
"I just handed it to her and told her I’d be back," he said.
"I shed a few tears before the game, I shed a few tears during the game and I shed a few after," Berry added. "It was just a lot of emotions. I tried to contain them and let it show through my play."
The Falcons, rallying from a 27-16 deficit, went ahead 28-27 on Ryan’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson with 4:32 remaining.
Atlanta decided to go for 2, looking to stretch the margin to a field goal. But Berry read it all the way , stepped in front of the tight end and took off the other way with no even close to him, providing the Chiefs with their winning margin.
It came after Denver stole a game in similar fashion last month, returning a blocked PAT for the winning points at New Orleans.
Ryan was clearly down after the game, knowing this was one that got away from the Falcons (7-5).
"A poor play on my part," the quarterback said. "I was expecting combination coverage to the outside. Eric Berry did good job coming down off and going onto the tight end."
Those weren’t the only backbreaking plays given up by the Falcons. On fourth-and-2 from their own 45, Kansas City faked a punt and snapped the ball directly to Albert Wilson , who played his college ball in the same stadium for Georgia State. Wilson burst up the middle for a 55-yard touchdown that extended Kansas City’s lead in the third quarter.
"I had a sense it would come down to the end, and it did," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "But I reminded the team that it never comes down to one play."
Alex Smith completed 21 of 25 passes for 270 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown to Spencer Ware. Travis Kelce was Kansas City’s top receiver, hauling in eight passes for 140 yards.
Ryan was 22 of 34 for 297 yards, but his two huge mistakes doomed the NFC South-leading Falcons. Julio Jones hauled in seven passes for 113 yards, while Devonta Freeman had a couple of 1-yard touchdown runs.
Forty-one-year-old Matt Bryant closed out the first half with the second-longest field goal of his career for the Falcons, a 59-yarder that easily cleared the crossbar.
Bryant’s only longer field goal was a 62-yarder with Tampa Bay in 2006. He also tied Atlanta’s franchise record for longest field goal, first set by Morten Andersen in 1995.
The Falcons lost left tackle Jake Matthews to a left knee injury in the first half.
Trainers put a sleeve over the knee, and Matthews tested it out on the sideline with some runs and cuts. But he headed to the locker room just before halftime and didn’t return. Tom Compton finished out the game protecting Ryan’s blind side.
Kansas City’s leading receiver, Jeremy Maclin, missed his fourth straight game with a groin injury.
Chiefs: Return home for a huge Thursday night game against AFC West rival Oakland, the first of three straight games at Arrowhead Stadium before the season finale at San Diego.
Falcons: Travel to Los Angeles next Sunday to take on the Rams.