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NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - INSIDE SLANT
All last week in the Kansas City Chiefs practices in preparation to face the Oakland Raiders, Jamaal Charles had a problem.
The game plan the players received from the offensive coaches was thick with screen passes. In hopes of slowing down the Raiders pass rush, the Chiefs were going to throw a few more screens to see if they could slow down the rush to quarterback Alex Smith.
When the screen pass is part of the plan, that means Charles is going to have opportunities as a receiver. First and foremost, Charles has to catch the pass and on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the Chiefs running back had the drops.
"I had to get my mind right because in practice during the week I was dropping a lot of passes," Charles said "I wanted to focus on catching the ball and doing a great job with them when they were thrown my way."
They were thrown his way -- Charles was targeted on eight passes and he caught all eight, including four that went for touchdowns. Three of those scores came on screen passes to the left of the Chiefs offensive formation. He had 195 receiving yards, the most yards by a Chiefs running back since 1965. Charles had 215 yards in total offense with four touchdown catches and a touchdown run, for five scores in all.
Charles became the first running back in NFL history to have four touchdown catches in one game. He also became the 16th player in pro football history to score five touchdowns in a game. His performance allowed him to join Shaun Alexander, Jerry Rice and Clinton Portis as the only players since the 1970 merger to score five touchdowns and gain at least 200 yards from scrimmage in the same game.
It all started with the first offensive play of the game, a screen pass left that turned into a 49-yard catch and run by Charles down the left sideline.
Saturday night the Chiefs offensive players always get a peek at the next day's call sheet. They go to bed knowing what the first call will be.
"When I saw I had a pass on the first play of the game, I was like wooooo," Charles said. "I really got to focus in. I fell asleep on it knowing I was going to be the first person to get their hands on the ball. I was happy.
"I looked that first one in and I was open."
And he was off to the end zone, untouched by the Raiders defense. It would happen twice more on screen passes and then Charles turned a wheel route into a 71-yard touchdown where he ran untouched through the Raiders defense.
For the second game in a row, Charles was on the sideline watching the fourth quarter, rather than being subjected to more tackles and hits by the opposing defense. It's one reason he felt good physically after Sunday's game, No. 14 on the season and will be full-go this coming Sunday against Indianapolis.
"When I'm healthy this offense can go a long way and this team can go a long way," Charles said. "I just take care of my body and hopefully we can go a long way."
That way will include the playoffs, as the Chiefs qualified with the victory over Oakland and now stand at 11-3 on the season. Charles can't wait.
"Some people find their peak at the beginning of the season, some people find their peak at the end of the season," Charles said. "I know that as the season goes on I get stronger and stronger. I just want to continue to do that and stay healthy."
NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - NOTES, QUOTES
--When strong safety Eric Berry returned an interception thrown by Oakland's Matt McGloin 47 yards for a touchdown, it was the Chiefs' sixth defensive touchdown and 11th non-offensive touchdown of the season. Berry had two of those six defensive scores, adding his play against the Raiders to a TD on an interception return in Game No. 3 against Philadelphia. The team's 11 so-called miscellaneous touchdowns matches the team record set previously by the 1992 and 1999 Kansas City squads. It's also tied for third among all NFL teams for miscellaneous TDs in a season behind Seattle with 13 in 1998 and Arizona in 2010 with 12 scores.
This season those scores have been huge for the Chiefs. "I'm not sure you count on them as much as you strive to get them," said head coach Andy Reid. "In this business you don't count on anything. You go out and work to earn the right to get yourself into the end zone. We don't count on that; we just work on it and we have high expectations for it."
--In the decisive victory over Oakland, quarterback Alex Smith had one of the best performances of his career. Smith threw a career-high five touchdown passes, along with completing a career high 85 percent of his throws (17 of 20) for a career-high average of 14.4 yards per attempt. He finished with a 158.3 passer rating, the highest possible under the NFL system.
"I never had a game like today," Smith said afterward. "Those guys made it easy for me. We had three screens (passes) go for touchdowns; I've never seen anything like it, let alone be part of it. The guys played great today across the board and they made me look good.
NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--RB Jamaal Charles became the first running back in NFL history to catch four touchdown passes in a single game when he pulled off that performance against Oakland. The previous record was three TD catches held by 15 other players. Charles also had the fifth-best receiving yardage day for a running back in league annals with 195 yards. It was the highest receiving total for a back since 1999.
--QB Alex Smith did not throw the ball much against Oakland, but on 20 attempts he had a touchdown pass every four throws. Smith found RB Jamaal Charles four times and TE Sean McGrath once, for a career high five scoring passes. The performance tied for No. 2 in the Chiefs record book behind the six touchdown passes that Hall of Famer Len Dawson threw against Denver in 1964.
--WR Dwayne Bowe had just 24 receiving yards against Oakland, but that was enough to move him into fifth place in the Chiefs franchise record book for career yardage at 6,355 yards. Bowe passed former WR Stephone Paige (6,341 yards). He's just six yards away from passing Carlos Carson and moving into fourth place. Carson had 6,360 yards.
--RB Knile Davis continues to get more opportunities to run with the football and he turned in an impressive 17-yard touchdown run against Oakland. Davis finished up as the Chiefs leading rusher with 34 yards on nine carries and his third touchdown in as many weeks.
--RT Eric Fisher reinjured the shoulder that bothered him earlier this season and missed most of the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against Oakland. Head coach Andy Reid said his status would be day-to-day this week.
--LT Branden Albert did not play against Oakland on Sunday, missing his second game because of the hyperextended left knee that he suffered on December 1. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said there's the possibility that Albert may get back on the practice field this week.
--TE Anthony Fasano did not play against Oakland on Sunday, missing his second game because of the concussion he suffered on December 1. Fasano was cleared for light practice last week and the Chiefs expect him to return to full practice work starting on Wednesday.
--WR Dexter McCluster did not play against Oakland on Sunday because of an infection in the area of his right ankle/foot. McCluster suffered a cut in the Washington game on December 8 and the wound got infected. He had a procedure on December 12 to drain the area. He's expected to be able to practice this week.
--OLB Justin Houston did not play against Oakland on Sunday, missing his third game because of the dislocated right elbow that he suffered on November 24. Houston returned to practice last week and the Chiefs believe he'll be ready to play this coming Sunday against Indianapolis.
--CB Brandon Flowers left Sunday's game against Oakland in the first half with a groin injury. But Flowers returned in the second half and was back on the field in the Chiefs defense.
REPORT CARD VS. RAIDERS
PASSING OFFENSE: A -- It's hard to give anything but a perfect grade to an offensive effort that produced a perfect passer rating of 158.3. That's what Alex Smith was credited with after completing 85 percent of his throws (17 of 20), for 14.4-yard average per attempt and 16.9-yard average per completion. Smith did not throw an interception, was sacked twice and had five scoring throws.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- The Chiefs didn't really need the running game against Oakland, but they were able to produce two touchdowns on the ground. Rookie Knile Davis was the team's leading rusher with 34 yards on nine carries, including an impressive 17-yard TD run where he showed speed and power.
PASS DEFENSE: B -- They had five interceptions and held the Raiders shaky quarterbacks to a completion percentage of less than 50 percent. They did allow two scoring passes and they also gave up too many big plays through the air. But what kept them from an A grade was no sacks -- they faced 41 passing plays and couldn't put Matt McGloin or Terrelle Pryor on the ground.
RUSH DEFENSE: C-plus -- Through most of the game the Raiders went with an unbalanced line on early downs, bringing in an extra tackle and putting six men of beef on the line of scrimmage. The Chiefs gave up 91 yards to Rashad Jennings and two TDs, but no one else in silver and black really hurt them. Oakland came into the game leading the NFL in rushing with an average of 134.4 yards per game. They got 130 against the Chiefs.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- The Chiefs presented the Raiders with a perfect opportunity to fake a punt, when they did not cover the flyers on either side of the punt formation. Oakland said thank you and completed a 22-yard pass for a first down. Kicker Ryan Succop was sailing his kickoffs into the end zone for most of the game, but at one point he hit a dribbler that ended up rolling out of bounds inside the 5-yard line. That would have been nice placement for a punt, but this was a kickoff and it cost the Chiefs 20 yards in field position. The rest of the special teams didn't really produce much of anything.
COACHING: A -- Reid's players and staff faced a tough situation in the preparation week, coming home from an east coast trip with a big victory, and then turning around and going to the west coast for the next outing. If ever there was the opportunity for the Chiefs to possibly drop their guard, it would be their visit to Oakland. Instead, the Chiefs came out and grabbed the game by the throat on the first offensive play and never let go.