On back of defense, Chiefs climb into first place
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Seattle Seahawks kept driving deep into Kansas City territory. They kept getting stonewalled. First they were held to field goals, and then they were held to nothing.
The result? The Chiefs earned a 24-20 victory over the reigning Super Bowl champs.
Not only did the spirited performance on a bone-chilling Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium extend their winning streak to five games, it also pushed Kansas City into a tie with Denver atop the AFC West. The Broncos were stunned by St. Louis while the Chiefs were putting away Seattle.
"It means a lot," said Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe. "We know what they did last year and we know they are still a real good football team. For us to come in and get a win, it’s big for us. We know where we are now, and how much we have to go to get to where they were last year. It was real big for us."
But don’t think for a minute the Chiefs think they’ve arrived.
Asked when he had heard that Denver had lost, Poe replied: "I heard about 10 seconds ago. You just told us. I mean, it’s an even better day now. But we have to keep fighting."
Kansas City’s turnaround has been nothing short of remarkable.
After getting slapped around by Tennessee in their opener and losing at Denver in Week 2, the Chiefs (7-3) have won seven of their last eight. Their only loss in that span came in San Francisco, a game against another tough team that could have gone either way.
Now, they head to winless Oakland for a Thursday night matchup knowing another victory would set up a pivotal Sunday night showdown against the Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium.
"It feels good to know that we were able to bounce back after a poor start at the beginning of the season," Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali said, "but we have a lot of work to do."
In the passing game? Perhaps. On special teams? Maybe. But the truth is, there aren’t a whole lot of holes in the Chiefs right now, especially when it comes to defense.
The Chiefs still have not allowed a 300-yard passer through the first 11 weeks, including games against Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers. They also haven’t given up a touchdown on the ground, the only team in the NFL to accomplish that this season.
In fact, the next-fewest touchdowns allowed on the ground? Four, by several teams.
Seattle marched deep into Chiefs’ territory midway through the fourth quarter, but Kansas City stuffed running back Marshawn Lynch at the 2-yard line. The Seahawks gambled on fourth down, and Wilson overshot Doug Baldwin in the corner of the end zone to turn the ball over.
"It comes down to finishing," Seahawks offensive tackle Russell Okung said. "It was a big grinder, and we weren’t able to come through. Hats off to the Kansas City defense."
It was the first of three fourth-down attempts that Kansas City repulsed.
The next came at the Kansas City 36, when a challenge by Chiefs coach Andy Reid overturned the spot on a pass reception that would have given the Seahawks a first down. Instead, they were stuck with fourth-and-1, and Lynch was plugged up by the Kansas City defense for no gain.
The final fourth-down stop came with a couple minutes left, and was the least dramatic. The Chiefs had pinned Seattle deep in its own territory, and Poe’s sack and left them with fourth-and-18. Wilson’s desperation throw was incomplete and the ball went back to the Chiefs.
All they had to do was run out the clock to wrap up the victory. Wrap up a tie for first in the AFC West, too.