Notebook: Jeremy Maclin bouncing back from injury

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The 19-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans stings, but the re-emergence of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin as a key cog in the Kansas City Chiefs offense must certainly ease the burden for coach Andy Reid.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin makes a reception during the team's 19-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium Dec. 18, 2016. (Photo courtesy Chiefs PR, Chiefs.com)

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin makes a reception during the team’s 19-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium Dec. 18, 2016. (Photo courtesy Chiefs PR, Chiefs.com)

“I think he had a pretty good day,” Reid said. “There’s always a few pluses in a bad result. I thought he did okay.”

Maclin hauled in six catches on eight targets for 82 yard. That matches his season-best for catches and establishes a new high-watermark for yards on the season

The eighth-year veteran missed all but one series over five games with a groin injury, but his struggles began earlier in the season. Maclin caught 30 passes for 376 yards through the first seven games of the season. Those mark the worst per game averages since his rookie season.

Maclin said he felt good against Tennessee.

“I was able to make some plays down the field a little bit today but it wasn’t enough though,” Maclin said. “But I feel pretty good.”

The most encouraging numbers from Maclin’s stat line against the Titans may be his efficiency. Maclin caught six passes on eight targets, posting a catch rate of 75 percent. Maclin averaged a career-low 52.5 percent catch rate entering Sunday’s game.

The veteran also showed the leadership after the game the Chiefs need for a playoff run.

“Everything we want is still right there ahead of us,” Maclin said. “We just need to go out, get back to the film room, get back to practice, correct our mistakes and learn from them.”

A “WAKE-UP CALL”

The Chiefs locker room stood eerily quiet following the game, with players coming to grips with losing a game they thought they had won.

“It sucks,” tight end Travis Kelce describe succinctly. “This one sucks.”

Linebacker Ramik Wilson said the team needs to find a path forward from the loss.

“This was a big wake-up call,” Wilson said. “We’ve got to learn to finish. When we have momentum, we have to finish.”

Linebacker Dee Ford said the team knew to expect a tough battle with the Titans.

“We knew we couldn’t sleep on anybody coming into this game,” Ford said. “They just made more plays than we did.”

Reid told his team after the game it’s still in a good position.

“You can sit here and point fingers, you can do all that stuff that bad teams do, or you fix the problems,” Reid said. “We’ve got to make sure we do that.”

RED ZONE INTERCEPTION

Among the many plays that could have reversed the result of the game, Alex Smith’s end zone interception looms large.

The Chiefs faced a third-and-7 from the Titans 7-yard line with 6 minutes, 8 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Smith fired a pass toward Maclin in the back of the end zone. Cornerback LeShaun Sims jumped the route for the interception, killing a potential scoring drive.

Smith shouldered the responsibility for a poor decision and throw.

“I felt like Maclin had the one-on-one,” Smith said. “Just throw it late and forcing it. That’s one of those ones, if you throw you have to throw early before the guy turns his head around.”

Maclin said Sims guessed right.

“Down there he gambled, he guessed right and jumped inside,” Maclin said. “It was a route that’s locked, so kudos to him.”

NO CHALLENGE

Reid held his red challenge flag and appeared ready to throw it following a goal-line run to the pylon by De’Anthony Thomas. The officials ruled Thomas out just shy of the end zone, but replays suggested Thomas may have broken the plane of the end zone before stepping out of bounds.

Reid said the coaches upstairs told him the ball didn’t cross the goal line.

“That’s the way we saw it,” Reid said. “Normally what they would do is call it a touchdown and then review it. The guys upstairs told me it didn’t cross, so that’s where I went with it.”

The run setup up third-and-goal for the Chiefs. The team failed to score on two runs up the middle by Spencer Ware, and turned the ball over on downs.

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Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and the Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.


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