Kansas City Chiefs: Mental toughness crucial to victory


The Kansas City Chiefs reeled off yet another victory and to everyone’s amazement, have now won six straight games after starting the season 1-5. It has been an incredible run by the Chiefs, and now puts them at 7-5 and in the top wild card position in the AFC.

It has been an incredible turnaround. The same team that blew leads to the Denver Broncos in the final seconds and the Chicago Bears in Week 5, the team that lacked any fire and intensity is now playing hard, dominating opposing offenses and most importantly winning games.

What can we put this down to? Mental toughness. Head coach Andy Reid has instilled a determination, a never-say-die attitude which has seen the Chiefs fight for their season when everyone has given up on it, including many here at Arrowhead Addict. Well, unlike its fickle fan base, Kansas City have resurrected their year to the extent that they can now begin to dream of not only making the playoffs, but finally winning a playoff game. It’s been more than a long time coming.

What was extremely evident in Sunday’s victory over the Oakland Raiders was this aforementioned mental toughness. As Lyle Graversen wrote on Monday morning, the win over Oakland was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination. The first half was particularly poor with the Chiefs surrendering three sacks, two fumbles (with a fumble by Frankie Hammond Jr. recovered) and lacking any ability to pressurize Derek Carr and the Raiders’ potent passing offense.

The most disappointing play occurred late in the second quarter. Tight end Travis Kelce received the ball after pivoting away from coverage from Alex Smith, and moved up the field. With just under a minute left on the clock, Kelce simply needed to step out of bounds, stop the clock and take the yardage given. Instead, he cut inside to earn an extra few yards. However, the ball was stripped from by Charles Woodson, who then returned the ball to the Kansas City 36-yard line. Carr later found Michael Crabtree in the end zone, giving Oakland a 14-7 half time lead. That is poor football. Period.

However, after the disappointing first half, Reid and his Chiefs got their act together in the second period, bar extra point attempts (What the hell was going on there?). Bob Sutton made adjustments in his blitz packages to get pressure on Carr, and Smith and the offense moved the ball very effectively, especially in the short passing game.

Carr was picked off three times in the second half, with Marcus Peters and Josh Mauga making big returns putting the Chiefs in excellent field position. Ex-Raider Tyvon Branch also picked off Carr and returned it for a touchdown which essentially secured the victory. Both offense and defense stepped up significantly in the second period, and it is because of this unrelenting will to win at any cost that Reid has instilled in his team.

While the victory was not pretty, it was a victory nonetheless, and a victory that was hard earned through adversity. Injuries have decimated an already sub-par offensive line, Justin Houston was unavailable, and the Raiders outgained the Chiefs by 150 yards.

However, despite such issues, Kansas City got the W. That is a pure sign of the Chiefs’ grit, determination and pure will to win.

It was a nerve-wracking, anxious game, but a game that has now put the Chiefs in total control of the AFC wild card race. Reid has been criticized for his management of this side, especially during the six-game losing streak. Well, it’s now time to give him his due. He’s given this team a fantastic mental attitude. A mental attitude of winning.