Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles: Every Game Is Playoff Mode


After the Kansas City Chiefs’ 31-13 win over the Oakland Raiders, smiles returned to the locker room.

Alex Smith (18-of-30, 297 YDS, 2 TD), who arguably authored his best passing performance of the season, benefited from praiseworthy protection. Meanwhile, Mike McGlynn stayed anchored to the sideline.

In all likelihood, those two things probably weren’t coincidental.

When asked about the added emphasis on downfield opportunities, Smith noted:

"I mean the key is to do it when they’re there. They are built within the play call. When you get presented the opportunity, you’re certainly not back there trying to force a bunch of deep balls. You’ve got to let them come. I thought we did a good job of that today. Stayed aggressive all day with the play calling and I think the offensive line played great then those guys making plays downfield."

Kansas City’s quarterback, who connected with 10 different targets on Sunday, affirmed that pass protection paves the way for stretching the field.

Being that the aerial attack opened up, Jeff Linkenbach, in the eyes of a number of Chiefs fans, left Arrowhead a likely candidate for Week 15 MVP. He wasn’t perfect, but the veteran performed infinitely better than McGlynn—who regularly struggles versus stunts and blitzes—had in previous weeks.

After the game, Linkenbach claimed that he was prepared for Sunday’s start, adding:

"Yeah, you practice every week as a starter. Everybody does so you are always prepared and Coach gave me a call and said you’re going to go. So I was ready to go and showed up and got a win."

Like Linkenbach, Travis Kelce’s afternoon wasn’t without its blemishes, but the good outweighed the bad. On the heels of his second fumble in as many weeks, the tight end snagged a 20-yard touchdown, pinballing between defenders before crossing the goal line.

Recounting the highlight, Kelce said, “We know versus certain coverages who is going to get the ball and who has the chance of getting the ball and it kind of clicked on me to make sure I run my route to win and sure enough, Smitty (Alex Smith) came right to me.”

Kansas City’s win was far from a one-sided effort, though. The defense doubled as a pass-rushing blitzkrieg, corralling Derek Carr for four sacks and serving up eight punt returns for ankle-breaker De’Anthony Thomas. The fleet-footed rookie averaged 19.5 yards per return, including an 81 yard, sideline-straddling touchdown.

Tamba Hali, who tallied his sixth sack of the year, credited the pass-rushing productivity to a comfortable cushion (on the scoreboard):

"For all the guys that put in work pass rushing and trying to get to the quarterback, this is what we look forward to. Guys like Donald Ford, his name is Donald, Donald Ford and Josh Martin, Justin (Houston) all of those guys they love rushing and that’s all we want."

By his own lofty standards, Jamaal Charles didn’t post the numbers that fans are accustomed to seeing. However, Andy Reid likely wanted to limit his touches, as the perennial Pro Bowler battled knee soreness throughout the week.

He was tested for a concussion during the game, but No. 25 assured media that he passed protocol. Trainers also ran through a series of tests with Justin Houston, but Reid later clarified that the linebacker was simply poked in the eye.

Asked about the Chiefs’ mentality going forward, Charles replied:

"Yeah, every game is playoff-mode. Every game, you’ve got to come with it; it’s like lose or go home. We’re hungry, this team is young but we’re still trying to keep some of these guys around here. It’s the playoffs, every week we play with a playoff-mentality."

Player quotes obtained via press release.