HOUSTON – The Chiefs cruised to a 30-0 win over the Houston Texans on Saturday, marking Kansas City’s first playoff win since Jan. 16, 1994.
But the luster of ending a playoff winless drought was softened by the loss of a major player on offense.
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin went down with a knee injury after hauling in a 7-yard catch midway through the third quarter and did not return to the game.
“You never want to see somebody go down,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “We know how much Jeremy means to us.”
Chiefs medical personnel rushed on the field and immediately looked at Maclin’s right leg. He got up from the ground with help, but did not put pressure on his right leg as team staffers took him to the bench area.
A team doctor stayed with Maclin while another member of the Chiefs staff waved for the cart, which took Maclin inside the tunnel to the locker room.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the game Maclin suffered a strained knee and is scheduled for an MRI on Monday.
Maclin was observed in the locker room after the game walking with a slight limp, but he did not require the use of crutches.
The Chiefs will now await the results and hope for the best when considering Maclin has previously dealt with a torn ACL to his right knee in 2013 and 2006.
The loss of Maclin, who finished the game with three catches for 29 yards, against the Texans touched wide receiver Jason Avant.
Avant and Maclin were teammates with the Philadelphia Eagles for six seasons before being reunited in Kansas City.
“To see him go down was kind of a sad effect for me for the rest of the game,” Avant said. “I know that he’s going to be all right and we got to continue to focus on the job at hand like he’d want us to.”
The Chiefs turned to rookie wide receiver Chris Conley, who immediately went to work knowing he had big shoes to fill in the passing game.
“He’s a great player for this team, he’s a guy who always does what he’s asked to do and a guy who’s a playmaker,” Conley said of Maclin. “First thing that’s going through my head is I got to step up and I got to do what he would do.”
Conley responded four plays later when he capped off an 11-play, 94-yard touchdown with a 9-yard touchdown.
The play proved the Chiefs could rely on Conley, who has been preparing throughout the season to be the next man up.
“It’s kind of one of the things they told me when I came in, is that in any situation that may happen on the field,” Conley said, “they’ve been prepping me for that to step in to take those reps at any position and do whatever I have to do.”
Smith complimented Conley after the game, pointing out the rookie stays after practice to get extra work and stays ready.
Still, replacing Maclin the rest of the playoffs won’t be that easy if he is out for an extended period. The Chiefs experienced that once the past season when Maclin missed Week 7 with a concussion.
“It’s different,” Smith said. “For Chris, it was kind of his first real time going. We all kind of have to pick up. A guy like that when he’s not playing or he’s missing, we all got to pick up the slack.”
Maclin finished the regular season as the Chiefs’ leading receiver, totaling 87 catches for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns.