Dream season for Chiefs ends in nightmare fashion<
^AP Photo NAF177, NAF175, NAF159<
^Eds: APNewsNow. Will be updated. With AP Photos.<
^By DAVE SKRETTA=
^AP Sports Writer=
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ In many ways, it was a dream for Kansas City, going from 2-14 and the first pick in the NFL draft to 11-5 and a spot in the playoffs. Yet it ended in just about the most nightmarish way possible, a second-half collapse in Indianapolis.
No wonder the Chiefs had such a hard time summarizing their season in the minutes and hours after a gut-wrenching 45-44 loss to the Colts on Saturday.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Sunday that players ``had their hearts ripped out.'' It was the eighth straight playoff defeat for the franchise, which still hasn't won a playoff game since 1993.
Reid promised the Chiefs would assess the season and then turn attention to next year, when they hope to finally end their playoff skid.
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Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid Quotes
January 5, 2014
OPENING STATEMENT: “Alright, really I don’t have anything about injuries for you. The guys are going through their physicals now, their exit physicals. I would like to just thank the fans for the great support in which they gave our football team and their football team this season. We didn’t end it the way we wanted it to end. We shoot for Super Bowls. We’re not shooting to be a good football team, we’re shooting to be a great football team. We did just finish the first year, so we’ll continue to build this to where we make the fans even more proud today of the Chiefs. We’ll learn from this, in a lot of ways we’ll learn from it and be a better team next year because of some of the experiences—not only that we experienced yesterday—but we experienced throughout the season. We look forward, and it can’t get here soon enough honestly, to getting back into Arrowhead Stadium with the best fans in the National Football League. I’d like to thank you guys (media) for the job you did too. I know you don’t have an easy job, I got it. Every day is not a bed of roses for you, I got that too. But I do appreciate you bearing with me. I’m not known for being a great interview, I got that. (I’m) a little dry and you guys make that work and I appreciate that part. As far as yesterday goes, it’s final. It hits you just like you get hit upside the head with a bat. It hits you hard and it should hit you hard. You’ve worked very hard and put a lot of hours into getting to this point and then for it to be that sudden, for the way that the game played out, I don’t think as players and coaches (we) feel that it was acceptable. When you have a lead like that, you have to finish it and take care of business there. Like I said, we’ll learn from that and get better from that. As far as changes on staff and that, I know that there have been some reports out there that people are leaving and going other places, I really don’t have any information on that for you right now. We’ll just see how it goes. It’s just that time of the year. No team stays the same, players and/or coaches. We have free agents on this team, who comes back; it’s too soon to tell on that. I really don’t have information on that for you either. We just know that things happen in this league and there are changes that take place. That’s what makes it so unique. That was this team. This was the Kansas City Chiefs of this year and not everybody will be back next year, that’s just how it goes. Those players that were part of this that move on, I wish them the best. I had the chance to talk to them this morning and I said just what I’m saying to you. I wish them the best. If coaches have opportunities or personnel people have opportunities to go other places, I wish them the best too, that they’re successful. Then it’s important that we put together a solid offseason. It’s right around the corner. What seems like a long time from now that we play, it is. Phase one will be cranking up here in no time and then we’ll be right into phase two and phase three and then training camp is right around the corner. The calendar is done up until I know when the first game is to know when we can start training camp. The rest of the calendar is put together and given to the players, so they know. They need to take a little time off right now and get themselves back both mentally and physically. The guys that are hurt or who possibly need offseason surgeries or who have already had surgeries, they need to make sure they take care of their business there. With that, I appreciate everything.”
Q: Will there be changes on the staff because you want them or because they have different opportunities?
REID: “No, there won’t be changes on the staff. No.”
Q: What are the reasons you have struggled in closing out games?
REID: “Obviously we didn’t make enough plays offensively to score more points and we gave up too many plays. I think it was all the way around. We didn’t establish the field position we needed to in the second half, or maintain the field position. That’s really what it comes down to majority of the time in most games, just kind of summing it up and giving you a generalization.”
Q: Why did the defense go from the best in the league the first nine weeks to the worst in the league?
REID: “I think we gave up too many big plays. That’s what it came down to. That’s what you saw if you look at the different stats, that’s really where it points to. You can’t do that. You have an aggressive style defense; you have to have an aggressive attitude with it. You can’t afford to give up big plays and we’re all a part of it.”
Q: Chuck Pagano said he knew what you were going to do on first and second downs. Were you too predictable on defense?
REID: “I don’t think so. I could probably sit here and poke one of those at Chuck (Pagano) too. I don’t think it’s probably a right thing for a head coach to say. I don’t think anybody knows exactly what the other person is doing on a given down. I looked at it and I’m not sure that was as predictable. They made some big plays. To answer your first part, we did try to mix things up a bit. Things happened there.”
Q: Is there something to be said about a turnaround in your first year?
REID: “That’s a great question. It’s a mixed answer for you. I’m never satisfied, number one, until you get that trophy and then you’re not satisfied and you’re going to go try and get another one. I’m proud of the guys that hung together. Every season presents you highs and lows and I’m proud of the guys that hung together and worked hard to go from 2-14 to our record this year. I’m proud of that. I’m proud of John Dorsey and his crew. I’m not overlooking that. I’m not satisfied to be standing here telling you he season is over. I’m not cool with that. I don’t like that feeling. Neither do the guys. But I can’t overlook the fact, and I know you guys haven’t done that either, you can’t overlook the fact that as we stood here last year, I was talking to you in a different way being new and the team hadn’t done very well. They were holding on to the worst record in the National Football League. There were a lot of guys that went into turning this thing around and I’m proud of that. That effort that went into that, that’s not an easy thing to do. I don’t want to overlook that. That’s not an easy thing to do. I want to mention the fans, the fan support. Huge. The people in this building. Clark Hunt and the people that he hired. Huge. Everybody working together, you take that for granted. That’s not how it always is. Guys working together to change a mindset. Players changing a mindset, the want to, the trust. That’s huge. It can’t be overlooked at all.”
Q: What would you say the identity of this Chiefs team was?
REID: “That they’re going to battle you. They kind of came in that way. They checked their egos at the door and they were going to battle you. It didn’t always turn out right, but majority of them did. I sat there and talked to them this morning and there were a lot of long faces. There weren’t guys laughing and high-fiving and all that. That wasn’t going on then. It was a bunch of guys with their heart ripped out. I can work with that. I can handle that. We’ll get better because of that. It should hurt. It’ll make us better. That’s how they did, they gave it up, unconditionally they gave it up, and said, ‘Hey, show us what we need to do to be better’ and they did that every day. They tried to do that every day.”
Q: You’re pass-to-run ratio was 28 to 10 in second half; would you do that again looking back on it?
REID: “I would have done whatever it took to win the game, so obviously we didn’t win the game. I thought I was getting the ball in the hands of the guys that I thought were the best players and trying to get that accomplished and with that, when you play that team, they’ve come back on other teams, so I kept that in mind. I wanted to make sure we stayed very aggressive with it. I’m telling you this, we didn’t win the game so that can be questioned however you want to take it. You can question it either way. I did what I thought was the right thing to put points on the board and it didn’t work. We only put 13 points on the board in the second half, so it wasn’t enough. We needed more. We were about four inches away from getting a couple more on there. Those are the parts that hurt. We were close right down to it.”
Q: What was your advice to the players on how to process this loss?
REID: “They should feel the hurt. You have to feel it, that’s part of being human. If you’re going to get any better, you have to find out what you’re doing wrong so you can get better at it. So don’t hide that and same with the coaches. Surely you’re not pointing towards (anyone), that’s other peoples’ jobs. They can point. You get better individually as a player and a coach (if you) find a weakness and strengthen that. Then, with that said and done, you did a heck of a thing by changing this thing around. It’s hard to see right now through the emotions, but you did a heck of a thing. I mention this to you guys just like I mentioned to the team, we’re not striving to be good, we’re striving to be great. Right now we’re good, not great. We have to take some steps to go forward there. In the meantime, get away from the game a little bit to make sure that you step back so you can step forward during phase one, phase two and phase three.”
Q: Do you take a step back before you can take a step forward?
REID: “Immediately, what we’ll do is we’ll go through and evaluate our talent. We’ll put together evaluations, end of year evaluations of players. Then I will step back and take some time.”
Q: Did you feel like a playoff win would have been validation for this season?
REID: “Yeah sure, we were trying to win a playoff game. I don’t know what that validates, you want to win the Super Bowl. (That) is what you’re doing. That’s kind of what we were striving for. The record is going to stand as what the record is. We’re not one of those 32 teams, and really 31 teams that is not going to be happy at the end of the year. I think that you can’t, it’s like sweet and sour pork here, you can’t forget where you were and where you’ve come to. Then you also have to be strong enough to say where we need to go and you can’t hide anything then. You have to look right in the mirror and figure it out. You have to know exactly what you need to move forward.”
Q: Tamba Hali said that when the team was 9-0 people started to take things for granted. Do you agree?
REID: “I didn’t have that feeling. There are times in this business and in life where you fight being a human. In this business you have to fight like crazy, those moments. We’re all individuals so we weren’t taking surveys at that time, but there were times where you just have to go, you know what, we’re not going there. This little human feeling, we’re not going there. In this business you have to do that, there are all kinds of things you have to do. I never sensed that, but he said it so obviously he sensed it. You just have to fight through that.”
Q: Is that hard to fight through?
REID: “Yeah you have to fight through it, if that’s what you’re feeling you have to fight through it.”
Q: Why did you call the time out at the two minute warning?
REID: “I felt like, well we had them line up, right, and I got a look at exactly what they were going to do. I thought that that was important at that time. We had a chance to see what we were going to need to do there.”
Q: What is the biggest efficiency to correct from this season?
REID: “I probably need just a bit of time to go back through and put everything together. It’s probably too soon to give you that whole thing before I take a little time to analyze it. I would probably leave it at that.”
Q: What is your overall assessment of the coaching staff and how this organization has improved from last year?
REID: “I mean really what I’m saying here is that I’m proud of them for that. I’m proud of them for making that change, that’s not an easy thing to do. That’s just not a lot of teams that do that in the National Football League, in the history of the National Football League. That’s just not something that takes place. We have to understand that. On the other hand, we need to get better. Like I said, we’re good, we’re not great. I think everybody starting with our fans, Clark Hunt, everybody in the organization are striving to be great, so now let’s go do that. Whatever walls or little things are in there, let’s go fix that right there.”
Q: How close is this team to being great?
REID: “There’s a fine line, I’ve said this before, there’s a very fine line between winning and losing in the National Football League. You’re talking about the best in the world at what these guys do. So how close are you? I would tell you it’s a fine line, it’s a fine line between being good and great. You have to be able to step it up a notch to get there. How do you measure that? You measure that obviously by production.”
Q: How do you get past this organization’s record of losing in the postseason?
REID: “We’ll get past it. We’ll get past it. We’re going to fight our tail off to make sure that not only do we get past that, but we get a championship here. Anything less, that’s not what we’re striving for.”
Q: Is finishing games a mindset?
REID: “We make no excuses. We lost however many of our players, I was asked that question, and that kind of leads into that. We don’t make any excuses for that. It comes down to making plays and making sure you put players in the right position to make plays. That’s really what it comes down to. The other things, I think, are going to the excuse category. There’s no reason that should have happened yesterday other than those couple of things there. Both sides of the ball made plays and put the players in the position to makes plays.”
Q: Was a 61-yard field goal attempt out of the question at the end?
REID: “Yeah we were four inches away from completing that ball right at the 15-yard line with our best receiver on their nickel corner, so I expected to make that play.”
January 5, 2014
QB ALEX SMITH
Q: How would you sum up the season ending the way it did last night?
SMITH: “I don’t know what word I’d put on it. It’s over. I know that, it’s pretty final. That’s the way the playoffs go. All of a sudden 2013 is done. Basically wipe the slate clean and you’re basically looking forward.”
Q: Talk about this team, your teammates, the way the team battled all year?
SMITH: “I think you have to be in this game, in this league, if you’re going to be good. There are so many games that come down to one possession to end a game and you’ve got to have mentally tough guys that can battle. And we have that here and I think we proved that over the course of the season. So credit to the guys in this locker room, guys buying into what we’re doing here and how we do things.”
Q: Is it easier said than done to take a step back and put this out of your mind before you look at all that was accomplished this year and how you can move forward from it?
SMITH: “You know, I certainly think you use this as drive. I think it’s good to be playing in these types of games. I think these types of games are contagious. You go back to playing in just regular season games, you want that itch, you have that urge to try to get to these types of games, these playoff games – the stage, the feeling is just so much different. With that, I think you use it. Certainly I think the foundation has been laid for us as a team, the way we do things. It was our first year together for all of this. I certainly think that foundation has been laid for next year.”
Q: Can you compare anything in your career to last night?
SMITH: “No, they’re all so different. And like I said, those opportunities, you don’t know when they’ll come, how often they’re going to be there and when you’re next one’s going to be. Certainly last night hurt. To be up like we were, you know feeling very good about things, and to have it end up the way it did. Certainly a tough pill to swallow. But any loss would be. If it happened every other way imaginable, a loss is a loss. They all hurt.”
Q: Coach Reid said this team was a good team, not a great team. You’ve been on a team that’s gone to a Super Bowl. How far away from being great is this team?
SMITH: “I certainly think we have the pieces here, no doubt in my mind that we have what it takes. I think the guys will tell you even last night, more so than ever we feel like that we’re capable of not only just getting to the playoffs but going deep into them and making runs. We have that kind of talent here, we have the group together to do that. It’s certainly easy to talk about though. Like I said, you’ve got to be able to go out and do it. You’ve got to be playing your best football this time of year.”
Q: No quarterback has ever had four touchdowns and no interceptions in a playoff loss. Can you talk about your performance yesterday?
SMITH: “You know, it doesn’t really matter. In the end, especially as quarterbacks, it comes down to winning and losing, especially when you get into the postseason. You’ve just got to find a way to win. For us on offense, we had a chance there at the end of the game and we didn’t get it done. So I certainly think that’s what we’re looking at.”
Q: Did you sense that the team relaxed a little bit when you were up 38-10?
SMITH: “No I didn’t. I didn’t sense that all.”
Q: During the year there have been games where leads were lost. Some guys were saying the team had to get better at finishing, going for the jugular. Is that something that this team can take from this year and focus on going into next year?
SMITH: “I don’t know about any of that. You’re playing football, you’re trying to win. Certainly when you have a lead you don’t ever want to relax, especially in the NFL. I don’t think we did that, but for whatever reason, we didn’t come out on top. I just think learning to win any type of game, whether you’re up or down, finding a way to win games is important. And I think it’s kind of a learned habit, you get momentum, you get confidence that with the game on the line, whether you’re up or you’re coming back, that when we’re in those situations you have confidence that you’re going to come out on top. We did that at times this year, certainly enough to build on.”
Q: Did you sense this team getting complacent at 9-0?
SMITH: “No, no not at all. I never felt like that. If anything, I felt we were confident and should have been. And lost some tough games.”
Q: Have you gone back and watched the 4th and 11 play to Bowe?
SMITH: “I haven’t. No.”
Q: Coach Reid said multiple times, that play was just four inches from changing the game. Is that one play that’s going to stick with you? How tough is that play?
SMITH: “They’re all tough. Certainly that one. But you can point out for me a handful of plays that yeah, you do this differently, you do that different. It would’ve changed the game, and that’s the way it is. You never know which play can be the difference. That’s why you’re doing everything possible each and every play to do it right, to make the play, because you don’t know which one is going to be the difference maker. There were several of those last night, certainly.”
Q: How many times have you thought about the fact that you scored 44 points without Jamaal Charles and you still lost?
SMITH: “Yeah, he’s been so healthy all year, we haven’t had to do that the entire season, which is really a credit to him. It’s tough on the opening series to lose him, but like I said, I thought guys didn’t miss a beat. He’s had so much production for us and is one of the best players in the NFL. He’s tough to replace, but I thought guys didn’t blink. I think our guys stepped up, believed in one another. I think we had some success, certainly there in the first half. Second half I thought we moved the ball well, but didn’t get the touchdowns though.”
Q: When he went down, how much pressure did you feel to carry the team?
SMITH: “You just don’t have time to think of any of that in a game. For me, you’re playing football. The play comes in, I’m trying to execute a play. I’m not sitting there thinking about Jamaal’s out.”
Q: Do you feel more pressure though?
SMITH: “No. No, to answer your question. You just don’t have time to. You’re just playing football.”
QB CHASE DANIEL
Q: Do you think it was beneficial to have some playing time against San Diego?
DANIEL: “Yeah, I think anytime the backup quarterback can play when the starter is not hurt, it’s excellent. You’re in a pretty good position as a team. So, for me to go out there, play a little bit, get some playtime under my belt, it was awesome for me personally and a little bit for the team, too, to show these guys, ‘Hey I can come in and play if something were to happen to Alex.’”
Q: How’d you grow this year being with the Chiefs?
DANIEL: “I grew well. I think as a player, this was really the first time I’ve been away from the Sean Payton-Drew Brees type team, so I was really able to mold my ways and their ways into one and sort of take it to a new team, hopefully become a leader on this team and really show guys, ‘Look, hey this is what it takes to win.’ Along with Coach Reid and John Dorsey and building this ship, it’s been an unbelievable year. I’m not ready for it to be over with. I don’t think anyone is. We were ready for a little run there at the Championship, but we have to stay home.”
OL DONALD STEPHENSON
Q: What can you take away from this season?
STEPHENSON: “I just look at this season as a building block. We’ve set a foundation, expectation to win. That’s a lot that you can get out of it, especially it being Coach Reid’s first year here. We’re taking a lot of positives out of this year.”
Q: At what point in the game did you see this unravel if at all?
STEPHENSON: “I can’t really pick it. During the game we were just thinking touchdowns and getting points on the board, so I really don’t know.”
Q: Do you feel good with how you progressed?
STEPHENSON: “My biggest thing coming in here this year was to be better than I was my rookie year. I think I’ve done that. I’m going to try to build off of this year and try to get even better.”
WR JUNIOR HEMINGWAY
Q: Do you feel like anybody relaxed after you built up a 28-point lead?
HEMINGWAY: “I don’t think anyone relaxed.”
Q: So what happened in the game?
HEMINGWAY: “It’s the NFL. You never know what can happen.”
Q: What’s next for you? What will you take away?
HEMINGWAY: “Perfecting all the good things. Reflect on what we started. I’ll just work on things that I can get better at, and then we’ll come back in April and hit the ground running.”