Chiefs tight end Anthony Fasano whiffed on his cut block of Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson. It turned out to be the best play he could have made.
As Fasano was lying on the seat of his pants, a deflected pass fell into his hands just inches from the goal line.
Fasano’s unintended 2-yard catch of a pass from Alex Smith turned out to be the pivotal play in the Chiefs’ 24-10 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
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“That’s just the way we drew it up … starting a new trend in the NFL,” deadpanned Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
The Chiefs led 7-0 and had first and goal at the Jets’ 2 when Smith faked a handoff to Jamaal Charles and fired a pass intended for Dwayne Bowe in the end zone. But Jets outside linebacker Calvin Pace deflected the ball into the maelstrom of the line of scrimmage.
“It’s a run-pass option, and it’s up to Alex whether he throws it or not,” Fasano said. “I’m blocking for the run, and I see the defender come off me, and figure it’s a pass, so I look out to see if it was completed.
“While I was on the ground, the ball popped in my lap. It was right place at the right time, and I really didn’t have to do much to catch it.”
Fasano ducked into the end zone before Jets safety Dawan Landry could tackle him, and the Chiefs had a 14-0 lead.
“I don’t know if they’re going to give me a negative (grade) on the play,” Fasano joked about his unsuccessful block of Wilkerson. “If they do, I’ll fight it.”
Fasano’s catch was the kind of play that works in favor of a team like the Chiefs, 5-3, who reached the halfway mark of the season having won three straight and five of their last six, and goes against a team like the reeling Jets, 1-8, who lost their eighth straight game
“It was devastating,” said Jets defensive lineman Damon Harrison. “You have guys who are working their tails off to make a play and then something so simple hurts us. There is a guy who is sitting on the ground, and he gets a touchdown. That’s heartbreaking.”
Fasano looked at it a little differently.
“I’m a believer that the harder you worked, the more lucky you get,” Fasano said. “That’s one of those plays. We were grinding, and were down at the goal line and needed a touchdown and got lucky.”
The Chiefs victory moved them into second place, a half-game ahead of San Diego, 5-4, in the AFC West and one game behind first-place Denver, which lost 43-21 on Sunday at New England.
And both the Broncos and Chargers have to come to Arrowhead late in the season, when the bitter cold of winter could make it tough for Peyton Manning on Nov. 30 and Philip Rivers on Dec. 28.
This, after an 0-2 start that appeared to have the Chiefs buried before they got out of September. The Chiefs play next weekend at Buffalo, 5-3.
“Every team that wants to be successful at the end of the year needs to win during November and December,” said offensive tackle Ryan Harris. “That’s when you have to win games. Today, we took a step in doing that, and we have another one next week.”
The Chiefs like where they sit at the halfway mark of the season.
“At this point, we know a lot about ourselves,” said punter Dustin Colquitt. “We didn’t quit or get mad at each other when two big defensive players (linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive end Mike DeVito) went down … we found out how deep we go and how strong we are playing as a team.
“We went through the gantlet … we had a pretty stiff schedule. The New England game we won was big and they’ve played really well since then. That goes to show you, when we’re playing at home, our fans are in it, and we’re playing good ball, so we have to keep playing and stick together.”
A little luck doesn’t hurt either, as demonstrated by the Fasano TD.
“Every week, you’re going out and doing whatever it takes to get a W,” Smith said. “None of them are the same. You’d like to think it comes from just playing, hard, alert and aggressive, and Fasano playing hard and being into the game, and all of a sudden the ball bounces his way, and he makes a play.
“I had never seen anything like that. It was a freak play … we got the bounce there.”