KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs defense finished the regular-season on a red-hot streak, helping leader of the pack Tyrann Mathieu in landing the NFL's AFC defensive player of the month award on Thursday.
Mathieu tallied 25 tackles in December including a sack while picking off two passes and breaking up six others. The Chiefs won all five games they played in December while allowing a league-best 10.4 points per game.
The safety turned in another dominant performance in Sunday's 31-21 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Mathieu collected seven tackles with an interception and two passes defensed. That victory paired with Miami's upset over New England propelled Kansas to the No. 2 seed in the AFC and a first-round bye.
“I've never been a part of that in my life,” Mathieu said after the game of the whirlwind finale of the Chiefs' win and the Patriots' loss. “One of the best decisions I've made was to come here. It's been going well."
Rookie receiver Mecole Hardman underscored Mathieu's value and popularity within the locker room, donning a No. 32 Mathieu jersey after the game.
“He's been playing good,” Hardman said. “I've been watching him since I was little, so it's only right."
Mathieu and the defense played pivotal role in the team's six-game winning streak concluding the season, providing the club plenty of momentum heading into the playoffs.
“It's going to be fun,” Mathieu said. “I love playing football. I love the challenges. I love everything that comes with it. I know that my teammates feel the same."