For more than half of Sunday’s victory against the Giants, the Chiefs played without two starting offensive linemen, but the backups — Geoff Schwartz and Donald Stephenson — barely missed a beat.
“Guys have risen to the occasion when they’re called upon,” Schwartz said.
And Sunday was no different.
Schwartz started at left guard in place of Jeff Allen, who was inactive because of a groin injury.
“It’s tough being called upon to go in there for somebody, but Schwartz had a good week of practice and he looked pretty good to me today,” Stephenson said.
On the other hand, Stephenson wasn’t quite as prepared for the workload. He stepped in at right tackle when Eric Fisher, the NFL’s No. 1 overall pick last April, suffered a concussion.
“I didn’t play as good as I want,” Stephenson said. “It’s tough being thrown in there unexpectedly, but that’s my job this year. I’ve got to be ready at all times. It took me a couple series to get my feet up under me, but I started to look a little better toward the end.”
Veteran left tackle Branden Albert’s assessment wasn’t quite so harsh, saying he thought Stephenson “did a good job coming in and replacing Eric.”
Stephenson was called for a clipping penalty one play after coach Andy Reid wiped three points off the board, accepting an illegal formation penalty despite kicker Ryan Succop connecting on a 53-yard field goal.
The penalty temporarily moved the Chiefs out of field goal range until tight end Kevin Brock’s 25-yard reception netted a first down, spared Stephenson and set up the penultimate touchdown.
“That felt good,” Stephenson said. “When (Brock) caught that first down, I was so relieved. I tried to go cut him (on the penalty), but he ran past me and it must have looked like I got him from the back. I don’t think I did.”
Still, the Chiefs’ offensive line, much like the offense in general, did enough to win and was particularly effective in the fourth quarter in closing out the winless Giants.
“As the game keeps going on, we keep pushing and pushing and pushing,” Schwartz said. “The last couple weeks, we’ve been able to break those long runs to be able to end games, which is a quality we like to have but we also have to be able to start faster.”
Allen practiced on a limited basis last week and might return for the Chiefs’ next game Sunday at Tennessee, but Fisher will have to be evaluated throughout the week.
“Fisher had a concussion,” Reid said. “He tested out to have one, but I’m not sure exactly where we lay with that as far as how bad it is. He seemed to be pretty good here after the game, which is a positive.”