BY DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports journalist
KANSAS CITY, Mon. (AP) – The Kansas City Chiefs would be the first to tell you that the bottom line is all that matters.
All but twice this season they came to the right end.
But the defending champion is also the first to tell you that the bottom line doesn’t always tell the full story. So much can be seen in the results of this season.
The Chiefs won seven games in a row with one possession, two clearly ahead of the previous NFL record, including one against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – their Super Bowl opponent on Sunday.
But not all of them were as close as critics would like to believe. Four games was two games five minutes ahead, and for the most part the Chief’s offense could shut things down without breaking a sweat.
“We’ve won a lot of games this year with different players playing games, offensive, defensive or special teams,” said Anthony Hitchens, chief linebacker. “I keep saying that. We find a way to win, and that’s what good teams do. “
Perhaps their success in hand-to-hand combat is a direct result of the championship pedigree that emerged from last season.
The Chiefs suffered a loss to Tom Brady and the Patriots in the AFC championship game when they were notoriously unable to stop New England in overtime and never gave Patrick Mahomes and their own offensive a chance with the ball. It was the latest in a string of late game breakdowns that left critics wondering if they would ever reach the big goal.
Well the chiefs did. And they did it while still struggling in one-score games. The Chiefs hit a 12-4 record in the regular season, but they were only 5-4 in possession-decided games and none of their games on their playoff march – other than their rally to San Francisco in the Super Bowl – was wounded being so close.
That season was a whole different story.
The Chiefs defeated the Chargers 23:20 in Week 2. Then, starting with a game against the Panthers in early November, the Chiefs began seven close wins in a row. Carolina missed a field goal that the Chiefs would have beaten. They put together a winning ride against Las Vegas and then held enough head start to beat Tampa Bay.
They followed with victories over the Broncos, Dolphins and Saints. And by the time they saw the Falcons miss a 39 yard field goal to escape with a 17-14 win in Week 16, they’d locked the number 1 in the AFC and a first-round playoff reunion .
“This team is definitely resilient,” said backup quarterback Chad Henne, who took office when Mahomes suffered a concussion in the divisional round against Cleveland, said the clock on a 22-17 win.
“We came back to win some games in the fourth quarter,” said Henne. “Or the defense gets a big stop for us and we get the ball back with a chance to win too.” Definitely resilient. These tough games and the best shot we’ve got from any team will definitely help us prevail. “
Therein lies the result of all these close games: The Chiefs are never nervous when things get tense.
“We may not have made it with our team in 2018,” said Mahomes of the playoff win against the Browns, “but we went through these difficulties.” We went through these battles. “
To illustrate the dominance Kansas City has shown in one-ball games, the Buccaneers were 3-3 in these situations during the regular season, including consecutive defeats to the Rams and Chiefs by field goal.
“In this league you just have to be aggressive all the time. The teams are just too good, ”said head coach Andy Reid. “You have to do your best to score points and stop them.
“That really matters. There’s so much parity in this league, so little margin between winning and – even during the regular season. You won’t be using many four-cornered stands. You won’t.” I will roll. “
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