Chiefs keep eye on bigger goal, not drought of winning in postseason

Jan. 3, 2016; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs players wait in line during pregame introductions at Arrowhead Stadium. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Jan. 3, 2016; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs players wait in line during pregame introductions at Arrowhead Stadium. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The subject of the Chiefs’ last playoff win can’t be avoided.

Expect the topic to provide material for media and and fan discussions until the Chiefs accomplish what they haven’t done since Jan. 16, 1994.

But an area where the subject won’t be broached comes as no surprise because the locker room is focused on the present, which means the Houston Texans in Saturday’s opening round of the playoffs.

The side note of the last Chiefs’ postseason win, which occurred more than two decades ago with different personnel and coaching staff, won’t heavily reflect on the current team.

“I don’t think this team’s carrying that weight, to be honest,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “Those were the other 22 years and 22 teams. This is us.”

Safety Eric Berry said he knows of the franchise’s last postseason win because people have approached him about it, but Berry reinforced Smith’s stance.

“We have to control what we can control,” Berry said. “It’s one play at a time, one game at a time and we’re just going to handle it the same way we handled it in the regular season.”

If the Chiefs take that approach, there is a good chance to end the drought when considering odds makers currently have the Chiefs favored by four points.

The Chiefs also carry a wave of momentum, closing the regular season with a franchise-record 10 straight wins.

While the Texans are a tough team and took a similar route to the postseason by going 6-2 in the second half, the Chiefs have been on a mission since the offseason.

“We’ve been hungry from the get-go,” Berry said. “I really don’t know how to explain it but I think you can see it throughout our play. I think our play speaks for itself.”

Not all the wins were pretty, but football games aren’t beauty pageants.

The Chiefs won with gritty performances, and that is more than fine for a passionate fan base, most of whom also roots for the Kansas City Royals.

All the Royals did was recently end a 29-year drought without a playoff win in 2014, and the capped it off with a World Series crown in 2015, the first championship in 30 years, to bring an entire region together.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid is aware of the fan support of his team and often makes it a point to mention the “Sea of Red” at away and home games.

But Reid admits he wasn’t fully aware of the Chiefs’ playoff drought until a reporter raised the issue during Tuesday’s press conference.

“I didn’t know the record – I mean, I didn’t know the whole playoff thing – but we appreciate their support,” Reid said. “We’re playing for Kansas City and they’ll be there, they show up everywhere, it’s a crazy deal.”

While the Chiefs’ supporters have waited a long time, they can take solace knowing this version of the Chiefs made believers out of doubters in 2015 after overcoming a 1-5 start.

It took laser focus to accomplish that task and the players won’t deviate from the path to exorcise demons of past playoff teams.

“We’re just trying to go out and win a ballgame,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “I don’t think we need to add any more weight to it, it’s already big enough. I think everybody understands that.”

There are also championship goals, of course, but to do that requires putting the subject that won’t go away to rest until it actually happens.

The importance of winning Saturday keeps the wheels in motion for what the Chiefs are shooting for.

“It’ll be one more step closer to our goal,” rookie cornerback Marcus Peters said. “That’s the Super Bowl, man. That’s how it’s going to be for me. If we go out there and take care of business, we play the next week. Then, we play that week. Hopefully we can get to Santa Clara.”

TALE OF THE TAPE

OFFENSE

• The Chiefs rank sixth in rushing (127.8 yards per game) and 30th in passing (203.4 yards per game).
• The Texans rank 15th in rushing (108.2 yards per game) and 18th in passing (239.6 yards per game).

DEFENSE

• The Chiefs rank eighth against the run (98.2 yards allowed per game) and ninth against the pass (231.1 yards allowed per game).
• The Texans rank 10th against the run (99.8 yards allowed per game) and third against the pass (210.4 yards allowed per game).

THE LAST TIME

The Chiefs defeated the Texans, 27-20, in Week 1 at NRG Stadium.

Saturday marks the eighth meeting between the Chiefs and Texans, and first in the postseason. The Chiefs lead the regular-season series 4-3 and have won the past two meetings.

The Chiefs are 3-2 in games played at NRG Stadium.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid is 5-0 in his career against the Texans and quarterback Alex Smith is 3-0 as a starter against the Texans.

CONNENCTIONS

• Chiefs cornerback Phillip Gaines played collegiately at Rice.
• Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel served in the same capacity with the Chiefs (2010-11) and was the Chiefs head coach in 2012.
• Texans linebacker coach Mike Vrabel played the final two seasons of his career with the Chiefs (2009-10).
• Texans defensive assistant Anthony Pleasant served as the Chiefs defensive line coach for three seasons (2010-12).
• Texans starting strong safety Quintin Demps played for the Chiefs in 2013, appearing in 16 games and led the team with four interceptions. He also played for Andy Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles (2008-09).

QUOTABLE

Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton on Andy Reid’s leadership:

“We’re going to follow him up the hill.”

Running back Charcandrick West on finding out the last time the Chiefs won a playoff game:

“Man, I didn’t know that. We need to change that.”

Chiefs offensive lineman Donald Stephenson on making the postseason:

“Everybody basically turned their backs on us, told us we weren’t good enough to make the playoffs.”

Texans coach Bill O’Brien on Chiefs rookie cornerback Marcus Peters:

“He has eight interceptions, and he’s got a ton of pass breakups, so I’d say he’s passed those tests.”

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Herbie Teope is the lead Chiefs beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and The Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @HerbieTeope.

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