The Chiefs were down to the third and fourth running backs on the depth chart, and that usually spells trouble.
For the Chiefs, it meant another 100-yard rushing game.
Spencer Ware, in his eighth career NFL game and first start, powered for 114 rushing yards in 19 attempts in the Chiefs’ 30-22 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Ware picked up where Charcandrick West left off, just as West had taken the baton from Jamaal Charles earlier this season.
And although Knile Davis got only one rushing attempt, he was back at his customary kick return spot after missing the previous two games as an active scratch.
Ware saluted his offensive line, and deservedly so. The group turned in a superb effort as injuries caused some in-game shuffling.
But Ware was solid. He jumpstarted the offense with runs of 16 and 12 yards on the first two plays of the Chiefs’ first touchdown drive and on his most impressive carry of the day rumbled 35 yards in the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs’ lead was 27-22 and a short Bills’ punt had Kansas City pinned on the 11. But on the first play, Ware burst through an opening created by the offensive line, ran out of an arm tackle and dragged safety Bacarri Rambo for a few extra yards around midfield.
Old school hard running on the soggy Arrowhead Stadium turf got the Chiefs out of trouble.
“With the game being close like that, with the weather conditions, you have to put your hands in the dirt and you’ve got to play inside the boxes,” Ware said.
On the same possession, Ware surpassed the 100-yard mark and joined Charles and West as century-mark runners. It’s the first time since 2004 that the Chiefs had three different 100-yard rushers in a season. Then, Priest Holmes, Derrick Blaylock and Larry Johnson turned the trick.
Ware provided a hint of coming attractions last week, when he took over for West in the third quarter at San Diego, and finished with 96 rushing yards. West had suffered hamstring injury and his unavailability for the Bills wasn’t known until Sunday when the team’s inactive report was released.
West had become the starter when Charles tore an ACL against the Bears.
“We find a way to persevere,” Ware said. “With Jamaal going down, then Charcandrick going down, our whole team is filled with that prepare-like-they-are-the-guy, so when the time comes they’re able to step in.”
West and Ware had moved ahead of Davis, who had been Charles’ primary backup since joining the team in 2013. But Davis returned to action on Sunday and on a day when footballs weren’t flying through the end zone on kickoffs because of the wet conditions, Davis took advantage of his opportunity, returning four kicks for 26.5 yards, including a long of 36 yards.
“You always want to play and be on the field,” Davis said. “I’ve missed it for the last few weeks, but it felt great to be back out there.”