KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The environment at Arrowhead Stadium rivaled a stereotypical Seattle day: bleak and clammy. The Chiefs’ (6-5) offense contradicted the weather and was red hot for the majority of the afternoon, and Kansas City outlasted the Buffalo Bills (5-6), 30-22.
The precipitation and cold weather may have kept some fans home, as Arrowhead was a little over three-quarters full at opening kickoff.
Some moments during the game were enough to make some of the fans’ toes warmer, while some others drew surrender cobras. Here are some of the warm moments and the not-so-warm moments from Week 12’s matchup.
• Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and quarterback Alex Smith paired up for some uncharacteristically long plays. Maclin hauled in nine receptions for 160 yards and one touchdown. His three long ball catches all resulted in touchdowns.
The Mizzou product’s first long reception of the day was a 37-yard catch in the second quarter. On the ensuing play, full back/running back combo Spencer Ware waltzed into the end zone from 3 yards out. Long catch No. 2 was Maclin’s lone touchdown off a 41-yard pass from Smith. On Kansas City’s first drive out of the half, Smith aired it out to Maclin for 32 yards. Two plays later, tight end Travis Kelce caught a 15-yard reception near the back of the end zone and immediately “Hit the Quan” afterward.
Maclin’s 160-yard performance is the best he’s had this season, and goes down as the third best, in terms of yardage, in his six-year career.
• Maclin’s career day wouldn’t have been possible without Smith and his long pass attempts. Smith threw 19 of 30 for 255 yards passing and two touchdowns. The 255 yards passing was nowhere near his best of all-time, nor his best of the season, but it was enough to get the job done.
• The defense came in clutch with two forced fumbles and their subsequent recoveries. On Buffalo’s second drive of the game, nose tackle Dontari Poe forced Bills running back LeSean McCoy to fumble and nose tackle Jaye Howard recovered the ball. Early in the third quarter, linebacker Tamba Hali completed the strip sack and Poe recovered the ball.
• Even though Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins went off on the Kansas City secondary in the first half, he was completely removed from the stat sheet in the second frame. He was targeted one time in the second half with no receptions.
• Beating the Bills gave the Chiefs the edge in the Wild Card race.
• All-Pro outside linebacker Justin Houston was clipped in the left knee by a Chiefs player. He limped off the field and was taken to the locker room. Houston was declared questionable to return as the first quarter expired. He was eventually declared out.
The former Georgia Bulldog compiled 22 sacks on the 2014 campaign, marking the second-best effort in NFL history. Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan holds the record with 22 1/2, a feat accomplished in 2001. This season, Houston has accumulated 7 1/2 sacks, a mark that leads the team.
• Watkins embarrassed cornerback Sean Smith in the first half. At half, Watkins hauled in six catches for 158 yards receiving. That would have accounted for his second best NFL game of his career. His best game came in Week 9 against Miami when he caught eight passes on eight targets for 168 yards receiving.
“Look, those guys get paid, too,” Smith said. “Sammy Watkins made some tremendous plays out there. He’s an amazing athlete with great talent, and he showed why he is one of the top tier receivers his is today.”
• By the time the whistles blew at the end of the first quarter, the Chiefs were down 10-0. It didn’t seem fairly likely that Kansas City would come out of that hole. Statistically speaking, Kansas City rarely comes back from 10 point deficits.
• Kicker Cairo Santos was 3 of 4 on field goals on the day, with the one imperfection, a 54-yard attempt, coming off a doinked kick off the crossbar.
“I thought it was going in,” Santos said. “It felt good off my foot and flew well, it’s just tough out here today. It was raining all day so the balls were water logged and heavy so not carrying as far. I did what I can control and it was unfortunate we couldn’t make that one.”
• Several Chiefs sustained injuries during the day, aside from Houston. Chiefs starting left tackle Eric Fisher was ruled out with a head and neck injury. Rookie center Mitch Morse was ruled out with a concussion. Left guard Jeff Allen went out in the first quarter with an ankle injury, but returned to the game late in the second quarter.