KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs’ postseason may have ended on a disappointing note following a 45-44 first-round loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
But the 2013 regular season brought numerous individual and team accomplishments to remember.
Here are 10 moments likely to bring a smile or laugh when looking back at the past year.
Sep 15, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Ron Parker (38) recovers a fumble during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Week 2: Parker shines in single play
Down 17-13 early in the fourth quarter, the Dallas Cowboys started a possession at their own 20-yard line with a promising drive, advancing to the 38-yard line in four plays.
On third-and-5, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo dropped back to pass when cornerback Ron Parker, a first-year Chief, broke though.
And in a single game-changing play, Parker sacked Romo for a 7-yard loss, forced a Romo fumble and also recovered it.
The Chiefs went on to win 17-16 in the home season opener at Arrowhead Stadium in front of 76,952 fans.
For Parker, a third-year pro claimed off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 1, his big play left a lasting personal impression.
“It felt great,” Parker told reporters during the postgame locker media session. “It was my first big NFL play since I’ve been in the league. It felt really good; I’m still feeling the juice off it now.”
Sep 19, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs receiver Donnie Avery (17) and Dwayne Bowie (82) douse coach Andy Reid with a cooler of Gatorade in the final minute of the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Chiefs defeated the Eagles 26-16. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Week 3: Triumphant return
The hype swirled in the week leading to Andy Reid’s return to Philadelphia, a game broadcast under the national spotlight of primetime TV on the NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football.
But the Chiefs made sure Reid left his former city as a conquering hero.
Down 3-0 in the first quarter, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick threw a short pass intended for tight end Brent Celek.
Chiefs inside linebacker Derrick Johnson jumped the route and tipped the ball in the air, which was then snatched by safety Eric Berry, who streaked down the left sideline untouched for a 30-yard pick-6 interception.
The Chiefs went on to a 26-16 win and Reid’s players couldn’t have been happier.
“I think we knew how much this meant to him,” quarterback Alex Smith said during his postgame media session. “He never would say it the entire week on the short week, but I think guys were fired up for him. He puts in just as much as we do and I’m happy for him to get this W.”
Running back Jamaal Charles, who totaled 172 yards (92 rushing, 80 receiving) and a touchdown, agreed.
“It was a big roar, a big cheer, we were cheering Andy (Reid) on,” Charles told reporters after the game. “He wanted to get this win, he may not tell anyone but at the end of the day, he had the biggest smile on his face.”
Week 4: The challenge
The New York Giants and Chiefs were in a slugfest, leaving the game in doubt late in the third quarter and the Chiefs holding a slim 10-7 lead.
On third-and-17, the Giant got a first down when quarterback Eli Manning found wide receiver Victor Cruz for a 17-yard gain.
However, Cruz appeared to be short, which prompted Andy Reid to challenge the on-field ruling of a first down.
After further review by referee Terry McAulay, the play was reversed leaving the Giants a yard short and forcing a punt on fourth-and-1.
Fielding a 59-yard effort off the leg of Giants punter Sean Weatherford at the 11-yard line, Chiefs punt returner Dexter McCluster electrified Arrowhead Stadium with an 89-yard touchdown.
The touchdown broke open the game and the Chiefs went on to score 21 unanswered second-half points en route to a 31-7 victory.
Still, McCluster’s return doesn’t happen if not for Reid’s timely challenge. Following the game, Reid gave all the credit to the coaching staff in the booth.
“The coaches upstairs did a nice job with that,” Reid said during his postgame media session. “I have a lot of trust in those guys. They called it. That was a pretty big challenge there, and they were very accurate with what they saw.”
Week 5: Cooper dominates
Chiefs rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper had been coming on leading to Week 5’s game against the Tennessee Titans.
And he continued his big-play abilities early in the first quarterback when he recorded a special teams fumble recovery for a touchdown to give the Chiefs a 7-0 lead.
Oct 6, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Cooper (31) intercepts a pass intended for Tennessee Titans wide receiver Nate Washington (85) during the second half at LP Field. The Chiefs won 26-17. Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Cooper saved his best for when it mattered the most.
With a little more than six minutes remaining in the game after the Chiefs took a 20-17 lead on a Jamaal Charles touchdown, Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick dropped back to pass on first-and-10.
Fitzpatrick threw a short pass intended for wide receiver Nate Washington, but Cooper stepped in and wrestled the ball away.
The play was challenged, but upheld.
Kansas City went on to add a 33-yard field goal from kicker Ryan Succop en route to securing a 26-17 win.
Cooper’s final stat line for the game showed three passes defensed, a tackle, an assist and the interception.
And Cooper’s overall play led to glowing remarks from his head coach during the postgame media session.
“He did a nice job, a really nice job,” Reid said of Cooper’s performance. “He competed out there. That’s a good receiving corps. Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick) was on fire there that second half and he got in there a competed and didn’t back down at all. He challenged receivers.”
Week 6: Destruction
Heading into the final quarter, the Chiefs held a 14-7 lead over the Oakland Raiders.
Oct 13, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (left) celebrates with outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) after a sack against the Oakland Raiders in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won the game 24-7. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
The Raiders started a possession on their own 18-yard line with 10:46 remaining in the game and quickly got to midfield before the wheels came off.
On first-and-10, Raiders guard Lamar Mady was flagged for offensive holding, pushing the Raiders back 10 yards for a first-and-20.
The subsequent play saw outside linebacker Tamba Hali sack quarterback Terrelle Pryor for a 12-yard loss, making it second-and-32.
Oakland’s misery continued when Pryor was flagged for a delay of game penalty, resulting in second-and-37. The second-down play then led to an 11-yard sack by safety Eric Berry for an amazing third-and-48.
Of course, not many plays in the NFL, much less on a Madden video game, are designed to pick up 48 yards and the Raiders third-down play became a harmless incompletion, forcing Oakland to punt on fourth-and-48.
Meanwhile, that series highlighted a dominating performance by the Chiefs defense, a unit originally awarded 10 sacks on the game before a midweek statistical change dropped the total to nine.
[Related, via ArrowheadPride.com: Chiefs defense in one word: Destruction]
The Chiefs also recorded three interceptions, including a pick-6 by safety Husain Abdullah.
And on Abdullah’s game-sealing interception for a touchdown, the Chiefs fan base set a then-record for the world’s loudest outdoor stadium, recording a 137.5 decibel reading.
“Man, the crowd is awesome,” Abdullah said during the postgame locker room media session. “They were gunning for the record the whole game and they finally did it. They get all the credit in the world.”
Kansas City’s 24-7 win in front of 76,394 fans snapped a six-game home losing streak to the Raiders.
Week 7: Misdirection
Trailing 10-7 to the Houston Texans midway through the second quarter, Kansas City began a drive pinned at its own 3-yard line.
The Chiefs flipped field position by marching down the field, using a methodical 15-play, 97-yard drive that ended on quarterback Alex Smith’s 5-yard touchdown run to give Kansas City a 14-10 halftime lead.
Smith’s scoring run proved so good, even the broadcast booth thought it was a designed read-option play. And NFL analysts from various media outlets took to Twitter or during on-air halftime shows to rave about how Smith faked out the Houston defense.
Still, something didn’t seem right to the naked eye from the Arrowhead Stadium press box and a debate immediately ensued on press row if Smith’s touchdown run was actually a botched play.
Prior to rushing for the touchdown, it appeared Smith wanted to hand off to running back Jamaal Charles, who cut to Smith’s right while the quarterback turned to the left.
So while the discussion raged through social media and message boards, the reality eventually arrived during postgame and locker room media sessions following the Chiefs’ 17-16 win.
“There was probably a little miscommunication there,” Reid told reporters when asked about the play. “It worked.”
Smith took a coy approach.
“Yeah, no I mean we ran it earlier in the year,” Smith told reporters with a big grin. “It’s some stuff we had and I thought it was great timing. I love that stuff down there. I think it’s a great place for it.”
Leave it to Charles for the truth.
“Yeah, we made that play up,” Charles said with a laugh. “I went the wrong way. I was moving around and all the formations were moving all day, and I just forgot which way to go. My mind went blank and I’m just glad that Alex was able to execute the play and score.”
Week 9: Turning the tide
If two things proved true though the previous eight games leading to Week 9’s game against the Buffalo Bills, it’s the Chiefs had a knack for winning ugly games and coming up with big plays when it mattered.
The Bills entered the third quarter with a 10-3 lead and were facing a third-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Punch it in for a touchdown meant an opportunity to seize control of the contest with a potential 17-3 lead.
Buffalo quarterback Jeff Tuel had played a solid game leading to this point and he led the Bills 79 yards from the opening series of the second half to the Chiefs’ 1-yard line.
On first-and-goal and second-and-goal, the Chiefs stuffed Bills running back Fed Jackson.
Nov 3, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith (27) intercepts the ball and runs it back for a touchdown during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Chiefs beat the Bills 23 to 13. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
On third-and-1, Tuel threw a short pass intended for wide receiver T.J. Graham, but failed to see cornerback Sean Smith sitting on the goal line.
Smith picked off Tuel and raced untouched the other way for a 100-yard interception for a touchdown.
The Chiefs used that momentum to secure a 23-13 road win.
Still, Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson was alone in the back of the end zone after running by Smith, who appeared to let him go.
Fortunately for the Chiefs, Tuel locked on Graham and never saw the wide-open Johnson or Smith for that matter.
“Stevie ran a great route,” Graham told reporters during the Bills postgame locker room media session when asked what happened on the pick-6. “He actually beat the guy (Smith) so bad, the guy was in the same spot from the beginning.
“And running an underneath route, he was still in that spot. It just happened that he beat him so badly, he was in the same spot. That’s basically what happened.”
Ultimately, the end result is all that mattered.
“It was like Christmas,” Smith told reporters in the postgame locker room of being in the right spot at the right time. “You know, you go downstairs as a little kid and there’s a big box right there. That’s how I felt.
“If he threw it right to me, the main thing I just wanted to do was focus and catch the ball. Because I knew once I caught it that no one was catching me.”
Week 13: Davis sets record
On a two-game losing streak and facing the Denver Broncos for the second time in three weeks, the Chiefs looked great early.
With the score tied 7-7 after a Denver touchdown in the opening minutes of the second quarter, rookie running back Knile Davis settled in before fielding the subsequent kickoff 8 yards deep in the end zone.
After getting through the first wave of defenders, he hit the open field around the 32-yard line, made a cut to the right and raced down the right side of the field for a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to the joy of 77,065 fans in attendance at Arrowhead Stadium.
“Once he got in the open field, I could tell that he was out,” Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub said of Davis’ return during a later weekly media session. “Early on, he had to make a guy miss in the hole, then he broke a tackle.
“A lot of it was him, there were a lot of good blocks at the same time. He did a lot of things on his own. He actually almost came to a stop, then accelerated and still outran everybody. That’s what made it so impressive.”
Davis’ effort marked the longest kickoff return for a score in team history and also set the club record for longest return for a touchdown of any type (kickoff, punt, interception or fumble).
The 108-yard return also tied the second-longest return in NFL history, the longest coming from Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson’s 109-yard effort on Oct. 27, 2013.
The euphoric feeling in Arrowhead would eventually deflate, as the Broncos defeated the Chiefs 35-28.
Week 14: Special teams prove special yet again
The Chiefs snapped a three-game losing streak in emphatic fashion, stomping the Washington Redskins 45-10 at FedExField in Landover, Md.
And for the first time all season, the three phases of the Chiefs – offense, defense, special teams – fired on all cylinders for a complete game.
But the true tip of the hat goes to a special teams unit that exploded to produce two returns for touchdowns.
Wide receiver/punt returner Dexter McCluster got the party started with a 74-yard touchdown in the second quarter to put the Chiefs ahead 31-0.
And defensive back/kickoff returner Quintin Demps answered a Redskins touchdown with a 95-yard return for a touchdown to make the score 38-7.
On the game, the Chiefs amassed 300 total yards in returns. McCluster had seven punt returns for 177 yards and established a single-game team record for most punt return yards.
The efforts of McCluster and Demps marked the second time in Chiefs history a kickoff return for a touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown occurred in the same game.
Former Chiefs wide receiver/kick returner Dante Hall last achieved the feat against the St. Louis Rams in 2002.
So how good was the Chiefs special teams in 2013?
Good enough to establish an NFL single-season record for highest kickoff return average with 29.9 yards (1,316 yards on 44 returns), breaking the previous mark of 29.4 yards by the Chicago Bears in 1972.
Week 15: Charles goes off
Given how running back Jamaal Charles exploded in Oakland, the Raiders would be wise to work on defending the screen pass for their next meeting against the Chiefs.
Charles had a historic day to remember, scoring five total touchdowns to become the first player in NFL history with at least four receiving touchdowns and one rushing score in a single game.
The five touchdowns tied for the fourth-most in a game in NFL history, falling one short of tying Ernie Nevers, Dub Jones and Gale Sayers, each of whom had six.
“I can go around and pick out a lot of players here, coaches for the job that they did, I think Jamaal was special just by numbers and how it ranked amongst things that have been done in the league and with the Chiefs,” Reid told reporters during his postgame media session. “The receiving yards, the receptions for touchdowns, I mean he just had one of those days. Five touchdowns, that’s something.”
Of Charles’ four receiving touchdowns, the one that stands out the most is his one-handed grab in the first quarter.
On third-and-19, quarterback Alex Smith threw a screen pass slightly high. But Charles reached out with his right hand, snatching the ball out of the air without breaking stride before tucking it in and racing 39-yards for a touchdown.
“The coaches do a great job of putting me in great position,” Charles told reporters after the game. “And it was a blessed day for me to have a successful – probably my best game in my career – so shout out to coach Reid for putting me in the right spot and all the guys for putting me in the right position as well.”
The Chiefs defeated the Raiders 56-31 and secured a playoff berth.