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It’s in the book

It was the best of halves it was the worst of halves. The crowds that filled the stadium brought a level of enthusiasm that rocked the venerable bowl. A sea of red filled television screens across the land some no doubt anticipating the crowning of the home team as the best team in the land. The Atlanta Falcons lost Sunday leaving the Chiefs with the target of only undefeated team,

Washington, which knocked off the Oakland Raiders the week before in a convincing mauling, brought an aggressive style to the game. They were not coming to Arrowhead as spectators to the ceremonies. They took the game to the Chiefs quickly and before the end of the first half held a 10-0 lead. They were dominant and the defense looked like they would wipe the winners grin off the Chiefs and their fans faces in front of a nationwide audience.

On the first possession, Washington gave notice with a resolute opening drive capped off by a gorgeous 44-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins to Terrelle Pryor. The play took on more significance when Pryor beat out Marcus Peters for the ball. On offense, the Chiefs suffered a big blow when starting right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff went down with a leg injury.

This made an already suspect line more vulnerable considering that center Mitch Morse and left guard Parker Ehinger were sidelined by injuries. Alex Smith paid the price with four sacks on the night. At one point you could feel that the team was sliding from bad to worse yet the score held at 10-0.

The team’s fortunes turned when Smith directed a masterful multi-play drive that is becoming the staple of the team. They began to turn when Smith hit tight end Travis Kelcey on a beautiful touchdown pass making the score 10-7 at the half.

And then there was the moment that any lifelong Chiefs fan dreads the most. Rookie kicker Harrison Butker came in with a chance to tie the game before the end of the half. This would be his first field goal attempt in the NFL after replacing starting kicker Cairo Santos sidelined with a groin injury.

In predictable fashion, Butker’s kick sailed wide left. It appeared at that moment that the game would have to be decided by the offense without the aide of the kicker. As a Chiefs’ fan you just know that if there is a way to break someone’s heart the kicker will be the one to do it.

But you know this game offers redemption, think of that first offensive play of the season when unheralded rookie Kareem Hunt took the ball on his first touch and fumbled. Look at Hunt now, an all-star candidate one quarter of the way through the season, approaching records no rookie has a right to expect in the modern NFL. Butker took his place on the sideline as the coaches worked him to put the past in the past. You get a second chance in this game.

The third quarter proved that as the Chiefs’ offense came alive and began to dominate taking 13 minutes of possession in the quarter. Smith was stellar again proving that he is playing some of the best football of his career since that ill-starred San Francisco sojourn when his play helped take the 49rs to the Super Bowl till an injury led to his replacement by Colin Kaepernick.

Smith’s night was impressive completing 27 of 37 passes for 293 yards and one touchdown pass, complimented with running score on an option. He scrambled for 56 years on seven carries. And he threw accurately on the run, hitting Albert Wilson on a critical play late in the fourth quarter that set up the winning field goal.

Yes, the wining field goal. Butker came in to the game with time running out and kicked a 43-yarder to seal the deal. His night was a fitting cap to a game that proved to be hard hitting and not so pretty yet entertaining all the way through.

You can’t say the Chiefs stole this game, though you could not blame Washington for feeling that way. No, the Chiefs won this game because they have been the most consistent in their play. Big contributions from many players, continues to be the norm.

It is a pleasant surprise to see Albert Wilson making a difference in the game - he ended with four catches for 62 yards, including a crucial 37-yard-catch that set up the winning field goal. He also used his hands to salvage a tipped ball that could have turned the team’s fortune if Washington had recovered.

All in all the Chiefs are proving that the winning formula is to simply play your game with faith that someone will step up and make the needed plays. This is going to be crucial going into the rest of the season as one thing is crystal clear. Injuries are going to decide the fate of most teams down the stretch, just ask the Oakland Raiders.

Those teams capable of overcoming their injuries will have a great chance to take the crown at the end of the year. The Chiefs are proving themselves resilient enough to be there at the end.

The next game will prove to be crucial as all games are. The Houston Texans are flying high with rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson putting up some impressive numbers. The Texans’ defense has always been a bear and there is no reason to think they won’t be playing with a chip on their shoulders following recent games between the two teams.

Should the Chiefs win this game and come out unscathed, they will be sitting comfortably at the top of the division with a good enough resume to take to the big game. But like the book says, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of time.” You are hoping that these are the best of times for a team to finally come out of their 48-year wandering in the playoff wilderness.