Notebook: Winchester returns after father’s death

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Long snapper James Winchester returned for Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay just one day after funeral services for his father, Michael Winchester. The elder Winchester tragically died following a shooting Tuesday at the Oklahoma City airport where he worked.

Kansas City Chiefs long snapper James Winchester stands for the national anthem before the team's game against Tampa Bay, his first game since the tragic shooting death of his father Michael WInchester. (Photo courtesy Chiefs PR, Chiefs.com)

Kansas City Chiefs long snapper James Winchester stands for the national anthem before the team’s game against Tampa Bay, his first game since the tragic shooting death of his father Michael WInchester. (Photo courtesy Chiefs PR, Chiefs.com)

The team held a moment of silence before the game honoring Michael. General manager John Dorsey attended memorial services for Michael on Saturday and traveled back to Kansas City afterward with James.

Kicker Cairo Santos said the entire organization supports Winchester through this difficult time.

“Dorsey went down and spent Saturday with him. It was a tough day,” Santos said. “He made sure he got back to us safe at the hotel. (Team chairman and CEO) Clark (Hunt) showed great support with what we did before the game today.”

Tackle Mitchell Schwartz said Winchester’s decision to play shows his character and commitment.

“Whatever he would have chose, we would have been onboard for,” Schwartz said. “I respect his decision. It is great to have him back. He is a great guy and we are going to provide all the support we can for him.”

Tight end Travis Kelce agreed.

“I can’t commend that guy enough,” he said. “The stuff that he’s been dealt this week, it’s hard. It makes football seem pointless. It’s life.”

“My hat goes off to him for being here and doing that,” Reid said after the game. “We had another death in the family with Justin March-(Lillard) and his dad passing away.

“That’s a heavy load for a young guy to take,” Reid added. “There’s not a whole that you can say other than be there.”

A GoFundMe.com campaign is available online for contributions to the Michael Winchester Memorial Fund.

LOSING THIRD DOWN

Third down proved a decisive down once again for the Chiefs on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs offense finished the game 4 of 8 on third down, but it was a 1 1-for-4 performance in the first half that dug the team into a hole.

The inability to stop the Buccaneers kept the Chiefs from climbing out of that hole. Tampa Bay converted 11 of 16 third-down opportunities for a sizzling 69 percent success rate. The Bucs ranked 10th in the league coming into the game at 42 percent.

Reid said the reasons for Tampa Bay’s success were fairly obvious.

“They did a nice job of protecting and they did a nice job of completing the ball on the outside,” Reid said.

The Chiefs recorded just one team sack when Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston fumbled of his volition without contact.

Linebacker Justin Houston said the pass rush didn’t do its job.

“We didn’t do a good job rushing the quarterback,” Houston said. “He had plenty of time in the pocket. We didn’t get in the pocket at all, no penetration. We have to do better.”

KELCE CATCHING

Kelce picked up a 44-yard reception from quarterback Alex Smith early in the fourth quarter, setting a new career mark for his longest completion. Kelce finished the day with seven catches for a season-high 108 yards.

Four of those catches came in the second half for 76 yards. Through the first nine games of the season, Kelce’s best production came earlier in games, particularly the first quarter.

Kelce entered Sunday’s game with 28 catches for 308 yards in the first of half of games, but only 12 catches for 135 yards in the second half of games.

WILSON PICKING UP

Wide receiver Albert Wilson posted just 12 catches for 94 yards and no touchdowns through the first eight weeks of the season. In the last three games Wilson added 11 catches 86 yards and two touchdowns.

Wilson’s touchdown came on third-and-goal from the 3-yard line, breaking some of the Chiefs’ bad luck on third down in the red zone. That was the Chiefs first red zone touchdown since the first half of the win over Indianapolis Oct. 30.

“It’s always great to get a touchdown, but without the W it’s kind of pointless,” Wilson said.

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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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