Chiefs make playoffs with historic streak

Chiefs Playoffs

JANUARY 2016 – During the Marty Schottenheimer years, the Kansas City Chiefs went to the playoffs in six straight seasons, 1990-95, losing the 1993 AFC Championship game 30-13 in Buffalo.

The Chiefs are 8-15 postseason all-time, losing their past eight games. They have gone 22 years without a postseason victory.

Chiefs players are well aware of that history and hope to change it this January.

“I’ve heard about it and all that other stuff, but at the end of the day I’m big on the present and future,” wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said.  “I try not to harp too much on the past. Those are things that we can’t control. Those are things that have already happened. All we can control is what goes on going forward. I’ll tell you this, if we achieve what we want to achieve, what we have our minds set on, we have to win some playoff games.”

The Chiefs want to do more than break the playoff victory drought.

“Obviously, that’s our goal, to win the Super Bowl,” tight end Travis Kelce said. “That’s why we’re here. That’s why we work every single day. Obviously we know about the history of the Chiefs. It’s in the back of your head and you want to change it. But you can’t think about it. You just have to go day by day and put in the routine and just go out there on Sundays and play your heart out.”

In the fourth of six straight playoff seasons, the Chiefs beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime, 27-24, in a 1993 wildcard game, and then upset the Houston Oilers, 28-20, on the road before falling at Buffalo. That team was led by Hall of Famers: quarterback Joe Montana, running back Marcus Allen and linebacker Derrick Thomas.

For the 2015 Chiefs to break the eight-game postseason losing streak, they will have to do it with a roster cobbled together to overcome several serious injuries, most significantly, the season-ending knee surgery in October to Jamaal Charles, from which their “next man up” philosophy was born.

“That’s what it’s about, the next guy up will pick up the slack and we just roll with it,” defensive back Ron Parker said. “You’ve seen that on the offensive side of the ball with Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, and now we’re seeing it with Dee Ford right now. Our roster’s full of talent.”

No team makes it until January without injuries.

“In this league, injuries happen,” Maclin said. “You assemble the best 53 men and that’s what you go out there with on game day. In our eyes, everyone we’ve got on our roster is capable. When they call your number, there’s no slowing down. You keep going full speed.”

The Chiefs overcame a 1-5 start to reach the playoffs, becoming only the second NFL team to accomplish that. The 1970 Bengals began the season 1-6 before finishing on a seven-game winning streak. This year’s Chiefs one-upped that team by becoming the first NFL team to lose five straight and then have a nine-game winning streak.

“That (poor start) really made us as a team,” Parker said. “You take a great group of guys who fight through adversity like we have, it’s something special. We’ve got something special going on out there.”

Said running back West, “This is a special team. I really believe that. You can see that when you watch us play together. It’s a family out there. Everybody’s not selfish, worrying about individual stats. We’re playing to win. That’s special.”

After losing five of six, the Chiefs were written off by most.

“We never gave up,” Parker said. “We just came in here every day, practiced hard, played it one day at a time.”

In the playoffs anything can happen where one loss eliminates a team.

“It’s hard to predict,” defensive lineman Dontari Poe said. “When you’re 1-5 and you win nine straight, you’ve done a great job of taking it one game at a time.”

Chiefs players never questioned their abilities.

“I think it’s a credit to the type of guys we have in this locker room,” Maclin said. “When you’re 1-4, 1-5, it’s easy to start doubting yourself. We knew what we were capable of. We know that each (game) gets bigger from here on out.”

The Chiefs are just the fifth team in NFL history to reach the playoffs in a season which they had lost five straight games.  In addition to the 1970 Bengals, who lost to Baltimore in the first round of the playoffs, the 1986 New York Jets, 1997 Minnesota Vikings and the 2014 Carolina Panthers were the others.

The 1986 Jets lost their last five regular season games, falling to 10-6 on the season, but rebounded to beat the Chiefs 35-15 in the wildcard playoff game before losing in overtime 20-17 to the Cleveland Browns.

The 1997 Vikings finished their season the way the Chiefs began this one, with five straight losses before winning their final regular-season game. They squeaked by the Giants 23-22 in the wild card game before losing 38-22 to the 49ers.

Last year’s Panthers, who went more than two months without a win, dropped six straight at mid-season to fall to 3-8-1 before winning four straight to win the NFC South despite a losing record. They beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-16, who started third-stringer Ryan Lindley at quarterback after injuries to Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton, in the opening round before the Seahawks knocked them out 31-17.

The past three teams with five-game losing skids to qualify for postseason won their first playoff game. The Chiefs hope to join that group. But none of them won more than one playoff game.

“That’s why you play this game, to win the Super Bowl, to have that chance at the end of the season,” Poe said. “The season didn’t start the way we like it, but to win in November and December, you have a chance.”

Kansas City history has been made as this is the first time the Royals and Chiefs have reached the postseason the same year. The Royals won the World Series. The Chiefs are the “next man up.”

Article by Marc Bowman

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