Chiefs’ Justin Houston dominating performance leads Sunday’s highs

Dec 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) celebrates after a sack against the hargers in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) celebrates after a sack against the hargers in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs finished the season on a high note with Sunday’s 19-7 win against the San Diego Chargers.

The victory proved bittersweet, however.

While Kansas City kept the Chargers out of the playoffs, the Chiefs were also knocked out by the Baltimore Ravens’ win over the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“We ended up missing the playoffs,” coach Andy Reid said. “So while it’s fresh on the players’ minds I think it’s important that they feel how important every game is in this league. There’s so much parity in the league. These games are so close that you take this in the offseason, is it one more rep that you put in or you work a little harder at camp.”

The Chiefs started the season 7-3, which included wins against the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, before going 2-4 to close out the season.

Kansas City endured a three-game losing streak in Weeks 12-14 and never recovered.

“We were 7-3 at one point sort of got in a little slide on the backend of the season,” quarterback Chase Daniel said. “Uncharacteristic of us as a team and what we believe in, but at the same time you end the season on a high note with a victory. You have a winning season. You’re not 8-8. You build momentum going into next year.”

Looking forward to next year and wondering what could’ve been will be on the team’s mind despite Sunday’s win.

Here are five highs and lows from the season finale:

HIGHS

• Outside linebacker Justin Houston totaled four sacks on the game and established a single-season franchise record with 22 sacks, breaking the previous mark of 20 set by Derrick Thomas in 1990. Houston becomes just the 10th player in NFL history to record 20 or more sacks in a single season. As a team, the Chiefs recorded seven sacks, which tied the most times Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has been sacks in a single game on his career.

• Philip Rivers passed for 291 yards, but being close doesn’t cut it. The Chiefs pass defense finished the season not allowing a 300-yard passer, a remarkable statistic considering the pass-happy nature of today’s modern NFL. The statistic becomes even more noteworthy when knowing the Chiefs faced league gunslingers Peyton Manning and Rivers a combined four times, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger. The Chiefs last accomplished the feat of not allowing a 300-yard passer on the season in 2000.

• Cairo Santos connected on 4-of-5 field goal attempts, finishing the season 25-of-30 and 112 points. Santos established a franchise rookie record for most points in a single season, which was previously held by Jan Stenerud (108 points in 108). Santos’ 25 field goals ties Ryan Succop’s record for most field goals as a rookie kicker in a single season.

• Chase Daniel displayed poise en route to a nice showing in the first half, completing 13-of-17 passes for 117 yards, adding 16 yards rushing on three carries. The offense had nice tempo and rhythm with Daniel at the helm through the first two quarters.

• The Chiefs recorded back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since the 2005-06 seasons. Coach Andy Reid is 20-12 in his first two seasons in Kansas City, becoming the fourth coach in team history to record 20 or more wins in back-to-back seasons. Reid, however, is the first coach in team history to record 20 wins in his first two seasons as the head coach.

LOWS

• The Chiefs finished the regular season without a wide receiver touchdown, but the team came very close to break that dubious distinction. Dwayne Bowe caught an 11-yard pass from Chase Daniel and appeared to cross the plane. The play bounced into the end zone where tight end Travis Kelce made a clear recovery. The officials reviewed the play and determined Bowe did not cross the plane before fumbling, but Kelce’s recovery stood. The last Chiefs wide receiver regular-season touchdown came against the Chargers in Week 17 of the 2013 season on a Daniel 2-yard pass to then-Chiefs wide receiver Dexter McCluster.

• The statistic didn’t come back to haunt the team like in previous weeks, but the Chiefs went 2-of-12 (17 percent) on third down conversions.

• The red zone woes from Week 16 continued into the final regular season contest where the Chiefs made four trips in the red zone, but scored a touchdown just one. The other three possessions resulted in field goals.

• How the starters have fallen. Wide receiver Donnie Avery and cornerback Marcus Cooper were healthy inactives for Sunday’s game. Sunday marked the third straight inactive for Avery, the second straight for Cooper. Avery was never same after undergoing a sports hernia procedure in early October, while Cooper lost his starting job after the Week 6 bye.

• The offensive line allowed four sacks on Chase Daniel, putting the season total at 49 (Alex Smith sacked 45 times). The offensive line in the last two seasons has allowed 90 total sacks (Smith 84, Daniel 6).

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