With the Miami Dolphins winning earlier against the New England Patriots on Sunday, the late afternoon stage was set for the Chiefs.
A win secured a postseason spot, meaning it was up to the Chiefs to take care of business against the Oakland Raiders instead of relying on outside help.
The Chiefs more than accomplished the mission.
Individual and team records were established during the Chiefs’ 56-31 destruction of the Raiders at O.co Coliseum, thanks largely in part to running back Jamaal Charles.
Charles scored 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.
And with four touchdowns in the first half, Charles became just the fourth player since 1990 to accomplish the feat, joining wide receiver Randy Moss, running back Shaun Alexander and former Chiefs running back Priest Holmes, according to FOX Sports.
“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 (Andy) Reid for putting me in the right spot and all the guys for putting me in the right position as well.”
Charles’ five touchdowns are 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.”
The Chiefs (11-3) struck fast, getting on the board during the team’s first offensive play, a screen pass that Charles took 49 yards to the end zone.
After the Raiders (4-10) got a 34-field goal from Sebastian Janikowski, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith found Charles on a third-and-19 play with another screen pass that went 39 yards for a touchdown.
Charles finished the game with 215 total yards, with 195 coming through the air on eight catches.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs surged to a 21-3 first quarter lead on safety Eric Berry’s 47-yard pick-six off Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin.
Oakland attempted to keep pace on the next possession and got on the board following running back Rashad Jennings’1-yard plunge.
But Charles matched it with a 1-yard run of his own to pace the Chiefs to a 28-10 lead to cap off a short drive that started after outside linebacker Tamba Hali recovered a McGloin fumble at the Oakland 22-yard line.
McGloin finished the game with five turnovers (four interceptions, lost fumble) and completed 18-of-36 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns.
Charles would once again score on a screen pass from Smith to push the Chiefs lead to 35-10 and the Chiefs entered halftime up 35-17. The Raiders closed out the first half on Jennings’ second 1-yard touchdown run.
“I didn’t do much, I mean three screens for touchdowns,” Smith told reporters during his postgame media session. “I’ve never been a part of anything like that or seen that, so pretty special. Those guys, making me look good.”
The 35 first-half points were of significance for the Chiefs.
In Week 14 against the Washington Redskins, the Chiefs scored 38 points in the first half. With Sunday’s outburst against the Raiders, the Chiefs became the only team in NFL history to score at least 35 points in the first half of consecutive games.
Still, the game became interesting in the second half when the Raiders made a push against a sloppy defense, scoring 14 unanswered points to get within 35-31.
The Raiders opened the third quarter with a scoring possession when McGloin found Andre Holmes for a 6-yard touchdown.
Kansas City went three-and-out on the subsequent possession, and the Raiders quickly capitalized when McGloin found tight end Mychal Rivera for a 14-yard touchdown.
But then the Chiefs put a stop to the momentum change by returning to the player that dominated the game.
On third-and-1, Smith found Charles in the open field, which Charles turned into a 71-yard touchdown catch to push the lead to 42-31.
Smith finished the game completing 17-of-20 passes for 287 yards and a career-high five touchdowns.
The Chiefs were never threatened again and finished the scoring on tight end Sean McGrath’s 6-yard reception on a drive that followed Husain Abdullah’s fumble recovery from Raiders returner Taiwan Jones.
On the game, the Raiders had seven turnovers, which the Chiefs converted into 35 points.
Chiefs running back Knile Davis finished the scoring with a 17-yard run, his third straight game with a touchdown.
Sunday’s win assured the Chiefs at least the top wildcard spot and No. 5 seed.
“It’s great to be in the playoffs, but we also understand that’s not where it stops,” Reid told reporters. “We’ve got to finish this season the right way and we’re going to do that.”
Smith echoed his head coach.
“Any time you can clinch a playoff spot, it’s special,” Smith told reporters. “Obviously, there’s still some left to go in the division, but it’s special, that’s what you work for all offseason is to get in the postseason.”
The Chiefs and Broncos, also 11-3, are tied atop the AFC West, but the Broncos hold the tiebreaker based on the series sweep.
Chiefs players react to win and securing playoff berth
PUNCHED OUR TICKET!!!
— Donald Stephenson (@Don59Wayne) December 16, 2013
Gr8 Team Win. Can Somebody say “PLAYOFFS” — Dwayne Bowe (@DwayneBowe82) December 16, 2013
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) December 16, 2013
— Mike Catapano (@MikeCatapano77) December 16, 2013
— Eric Fisher (@Big_Fish79) December 16, 2013
— Branden Albert (@B_Albert76) December 16, 2013
Notes: Chiefs rookie right tackle Eric Fisher left the game with a shoulder injury and did not finish … “He kind of re-hurt that shoulder that he had earlier and we’ll just see how he does coming up here,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of Fisher … The Chiefs’ 56 points represent the highest scoring output in the NFL this season … Additionally, the 56 points are the most points allowed in Oakland history, according to Raiders beat writer Vic Tafur … The Chiefs were penalized eight times for 91 yards … The Chiefs are the fourth team in league history to make the playoffs a year after losing at least 14 games.