KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Miami Dolphins provided the Chiefs with a late holiday gift on Sunday, knocking off the New England Patriots and opening the door for the Chiefs to secure the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs by virtue of their 31-21 win over the Los Angeles Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said he kept his team's focus on the task at hand rather than worry about what happened in New England.
“It's not easy because you don't know the scores and you have to have mindset coming into this thing,” Reid said. “The Dolphins were a 16-point underdog going into this. It's a great example of why you play. If you're on that field, you go 100 miles per hour and you play your heart out.”
The Chiefs will have a week to rest before returning to action in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. They will face the highest-seed team among the winners of next week's wild card round. No. 3 seed New England will face either Tennessee, Pittsburgh or Oakland depending on the outcome of Sunday's games. The No. 4 seed Houston Texans will host the No. 5 seed Buffalo Bills.
Kansas City moved to 12-4 with the victory over the Chargers, marking their 11th win in the last 12 contests against Los Angeles.
The Chiefs used two big third-quarter plays in easing past the Chargers. Pro Bowl returner Mecole Hardman returned a kickoff 104 yards for a score early in the quarter, and later Damien Williams broke a couple of tackles in racing 84 yards for a touchdown that proved the game winner.
Williams credited left tackle Eric Fisher for creating the opportunity for him to break off the long run.
“I saw Fish do a great job kicking the guy out so all I had to do was hit the hole as hard as I could, which is why I was breaking all those tackles,” Williams said. “I trusted my O-line to hit it with velocity.”
Williams, in his second game since returning from a rib injury, picked up 124 yards on the ground along with two touchdowns on just 12 carries. He also added 30 yards receiving on four catches.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers kept his team in the game, however, completing 31-of-46 passing for 281 yards and two scores. But a relentless Kansas City pass rush harassed the 38-year-old much of the game, picking up three sacks along with eight quarterback hits and playing a role in forcing two interceptions.
The Arrowhead Stadium scoreboard didn't display the score of the New England-Miami game for much of the afternoon, leaving coaches and players in the dark until late in the game. A Chiefs loss couple with a Houston win over Tennessee would have pushed Kansas City to the four-seed.
“Even if that game didn't go right, we still needed to play for the game that's happening this afternoon,” Reid said. “We wouldn't have an idea. We didn't care.”
Once the Dolphins took a 27-24 lead with 24 seconds remaining, the scoreboard posted the result to cheers. That's when word filtered to the Chiefs defensive players on the field, said edge rusher Terrell Suggs.
“Then it hit us, 'Oh my God, really?'” Suggs said. “It's very flattering, but it shows good stuff can happen when you handle your own business. You focus on what you have to do, your task at hand. You can't worry about anybody else.”
Now the Chiefs have a week to rest and recuperate while waiting to see who they will face in two weeks.
“The extra week off is great to have this year,” Reid said. “You work hard for that. Being 12-4 is a great accomplishment for our football team.”