Points were at a premium Sunday afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium, as the Chiefs were in a defensive slugfest against the Buffalo Bills.
The Chiefs entered the game ranked second in third down efficiency (51.9 percent), but struggled against the stout Bills defense, finishing the game converting 2-of-12 third downs.
But the Chiefs (6-3) shook off the offensive hiccups and saved the best for the fourth quarter, reeling off 14 unanswered points to secure a 17-14 comeback win against the Bills (5-4).
“There are games you’re going to have like this when everything is not pretty and you got to play through it,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters after the game. “There’s a certain toughness that it takes not only to play in the National Football League, but being able to come back from a deficit like that.”
Down 13-3, one of the team’s All-Pro took the lead on mental toughness to overcome the sluggish nature of the game.
Running back Jamaal Charles, who was bottled up by the Bills suffocating front four through the first three quarters, pulled the Chiefs within three points after a 39-yard run on a fourth-and-1 play early in the fourth quarter.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid called a misdirection pitchout, which quarterback Alex Smith flawlessly executed to get Charles in open space on the left side of the offensive line.
The Bills appeared to sell out on an inside run, leaving Charles on the outside to burst through the first level and into daylight.
Charles overcame a slow start to rush for 98 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries for the game. He added 20 yards receiving on three catches.
The two teams slugged it out following Charles’ touchdown on the next two subsequent possessions before disaster struck the Bills.
The Bills had pinned the Chiefs deep inside the 10-yard line after rookie returner De’Anthony Thomas field a punt inside the 5-yard line, which led to a three-and-out series for the Chiefs offense.
Punter Dustin Colquitt kicked the ball to Bills returner Leodis McKelvin, who fielded the ball at Buffalo’s 31-yard line.
But Chiefs rookie wide receiver Albert Wilson and fullback Anthony Sherman converged quickly.
McKelvin fumbled the ball, leading to Sherman recovering at the 26-yard line to put the Chiefs in business in Buffalo territory.
Charles gained 18 yards on the first play of the drive to set up Smith, who sprinted around the left side for what turned out to be the game-winning 8-yard touchdown run.
The capacity to overcome the deficit in a hostile environment, and then hold on for the win impressed Reid.
“Our guys showed that today, real grit there that second half,” Reid said. “Nobody hung their head, nobody was pointing fingers, they were all positive. You just had this feeling good things were going to happen. We were just hoping we’d have enough time left on the clock to get that done.”
Smith overcame six sacks to complete 17-of-29 passes for 177 yards in addition to the rushing score.
While Smith took a beating against one of the top defensive units in the NFL, winning took care of any aches and pains.
“Right now you feel great,” Smith told reporters after the game. “You don’t feel anything. We have a great group of guys, guys that stick together and these wins are just sweet when you come out on top.”
The Chiefs extend to a four-game winning streak and have won six of the last seven games since starting 0-2.
The second to last Buffalo possession began with 4:35 remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Bills came out of the series with a lesson learned.
Don’t pick on Chiefs defensive back Ron Parker.
The fourth-year pro came up with two nice passes defensed inside the Chiefs’ 20-yard line while locked up against Bills rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
Parker, who possesses 4.36 40-yard dash speed, shadowed Watkins for most of the game.
Parker also prevented a Bills rushing touchdown early in the third quarter when he stripping the ball from running back Bryce Brown, who fumbled out of the end zone for a Chiefs touchback.
The play prevented what would’ve been the first rushing touchdown allowed on the season by the Chiefs defense.
Parker finished the game with eight tackles (six solo), three passes defensed and a forced fumble.
BOWE LEADS RECIEVERS
Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe came up big in the game with a season-high eight catches for 93 yards, which also marked a season high, on 12 targets.
Bowe more than carried the receiving corps throughout a game where yards were tough to come by.
Reid told reporters after the game running back Cyrus Gray suffered a torn ACL, tight end Demetrius Harris suffered a fractured foot, running back Jamaal Charles dealt with a stinger, tight end Anthony Fasano a knee contusion and wide receiver Junior Hemingway a hip contusion.
“He should be OK, though, down the road here,” Reid said of Charles.
Gray’s loss will be felt on special teams where he served as punter Dustin Colquitt’s personal protector. Gray also served as a lead blocker on kickoff returns.
The Chiefs have rookie running back Charcandrick West on the practice squad.
The Chiefs losing Harris affects tight end depth on the active 53-man roster, especially if Fasano’s misses time. The Chiefs have tight end Brandon Barden on the practice squad.
The Chiefs host the defending Super Bowl champions Seattle Seahawks in Week 11 at Arrowhead Stadium.
The game is scheduled to air at noon CST on FOX Sports.