Notebook: Players unwavering faith in each other drives Chiefs’ winning ways

BALTIMORE – With Sunday’s 34-14 win over the Ravens, the Kansas City Chiefs are the only team in NFL history to win eight straight games after a losing streak of at least five games.

Dec. 20, 2015; Baltimore; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) signals at the line of scrimmage against the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Dec. 20, 2015; Baltimore; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) signals at the line of scrimmage against the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

A remarkable feat, of course, when considering how the Chiefs lost some of the games during the dismal losing streak.

“It is stunning once you go home and lie in bed and think about it, but when you expect to win it kind of works that way,” linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “Don’t get me wrong, you never want to start off 1-5.”

What held the Chiefs together during the losing was an unquestioned faith in each other and the family atmosphere.

Those are two areas defensive end Mike DeVito said he’s never experienced on another team in his nine-year career.

“The guys love each other in here and that’s what gets you through when you’re 1-5 to come back because that’s when teams turn on each other,” DeVito said. “This team stayed strong and we fought our way out of it. The camaraderie, just the family atmosphere in here I think is really what’s gotten us to this point.”

Johnson echoed DeVito.

“We knew we were a better team at that time when that was going on,” Johnson said, “but we didn’t lose our focus, we didn’t point fingers, which is easy to do during that time. Credit to the coaches and players.”

It is that chemistry that has forged a strong locker room while the Chiefs held together.

“I think, for one, it’s character,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of talent in the league all over and I think it really speaks to the character that we have in the locker room. Guys doing the little things, day in and day out, week in and week out, keeping great focus. I really think those are the things that are making a difference.”

The Chiefs (9-5) are now one game behind the Denver Broncos (10-4) in the AFC West with two games remaining.

That scenario leaves plenty of unfinished business for the Chiefs to take care regardless of the historic winning streak.

“It’s important right now that you stay focused at this time of the year,” coach Andy Reid said. “We dug ourselves such a hole it really doesn’t matter. We’re just barely crossing .500 here by a couple of games, so we got to keep our concentration and focus exactly right and keep improving.”

PAYING RESPECT

Chiefs rookie cornerback Marcus Peters had two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, on Sunday.

While Peters has more than let his play do the talking for him the entire season, he certainly isn’t shy to let his emotions show.

And he put it on full display in the house former Ravens great, Ray Lewis, built by paying honor with Lewis’ signature dance after returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown:

Peters said he planned before the game to do Lewis’ dance if he got an interception, but the result of the pick made it sweeter.

“I knew if I got a pick, I was going to do it regardless,” he said. “It just helps that it’s a pick-6.”

The dance also wasn’t meant to show up the Ravens’ fans; this was Peters’ way of paying tribute to one of the fiercest inside linebackers in NFL history.

“It’s one of those respect things for me,” Peters said. “That’s big to come play in Ray Lewis’ house. He was here for a long time and he did a very good job. That’s an honor, man. Salute to Ray Lewis.”

LEADING MAN

Running back Charcandrick West got the Chiefs on the board first early in the opening quarter with a 38-yard touchdown run.

West took a handoff from quarterback Alex Smith, went left before bursting up through a hole.

“The whole offensive line did a great job,” West said.

But it wasn’t just the front five the Chiefs running back complimented and he gave big praise to his lead blocker out of the backfield.

“My man, (fullback Anthony) Sherm(an), made a block,” West said. “My man doesn’t get enough credit, man.”

West finished the game with 76 yards rushing and a touchdown on 16 attempts, adding two catches for 9 yards in the Chiefs’ 34-14 win.

His signature play, however, came on his fourth carry and West made sure to give full credit to those around him.

“Without him on that play,” West said of Sherman, “him and (left guard) Zach (Fulton) made a critical block to set me free on that play.”

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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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