Chiefs clinch AFC playoff spot with wild 56-31 victory over Raiders

The Chiefs didn’t rely on help from others on Sunday. They took the field knowing they had to beat the Raiders to clinch a playoff spot.

And that’s exactly what they did, scoring on their first offensive play and going on to defeat Oakland 56-31 at the O.Co Oakland Coliseum in what turned out to be a victory of historic proportions.

“There’s something about having the opportunity to make the playoffs and seizing it, and I was proud of the way the guys did it today,” said Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, who made the decision last January to hire coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey.

“It was a wild game, maybe an old AFL-style game … there have been quite a few of those played, even in this stadium …. ”

As wild as the games waged by these old AFL West rivals may have been, this one may have topped them all, aside from the Chiefs’ 17-7 win in the 1969 AFL Championship game that sent them to Super Bowl IV. But even that game couldn’t measure up to the some of these performances:

• Running back Jamaal Charles scored five touchdowns, tying the franchise single-game record set by Abner Haynes against the Raiders in 1961, when the club was the Dallas Texans.

• Charles’ four touchdown catches were the most by a running back in a single game in NFL history. He also became the first player in NFL history with at least four touchdown catches and a touchdown run in a single game.

• Quarterback Alex Smith threw a career-best five touchdown passes in a game played across the bay from San Francisco -- the team that dropped him as a starter last year and traded him to the Chiefs this year -- and posted a perfect 158.3 passer rating.

• The defense and special teams forced seven takeaways -- five interceptions and two fumble recoveries -- that produced 28 points. Eric Berry’s 47-yard interception return for a touchdown gave the Chiefs 11 touchdown returns for the season, tying the franchise record set in 1992 and 1999.

• The Chiefs’ 56 points was the most the Raiders have ever allowed in a game, and was second only to the 59 points the Chiefs scored against Denver in 1963 in their first game as a Kansas City franchise.

• The Chiefs’ 35 first-half points came a week after they scored 38 in the first half of their 45-10 win at Washington. The Chiefs are the only team in NFL history to score at least 35 points in the first half of consecutive games, matching the franchise’s accomplishment on Dec. 1 and Dec., 8 2002.

“It was a tough thing what these players and coaches did, by having the game we had at Washington and coming back and still mustering enough energy to do this,” said Reid, who took Philadelphia to the postseason 10 times in 14 seasons.

“It’s great to be in the playoffs. We also understand that’s not where it stops. We’ve got to finish this season the right way. We’re going to do that.”

The victory also moved the Chiefs, 11-3, into a first-place tie in the AFC West with Denver, though the Broncos own the head-to-head tie-breaker with two games to go.

The Chiefs finish their season with games at home against Indianapolis, 9-5, and at San Diego, 7-7; the Broncos finish at Houston, 2-12, and at Oakland, 4-10.

Denver also regained the top seed in the AFC playoffs ahead of New England.

The Chiefs could have been assured of a playoff spot had New England beaten Miami in an early game on Sunday, but Ryan Tannehill’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Thigpen in the final minute gave the Dolphins a 24-20 win over the Patriots.

Dorsey hardly paid attention to the Miami game that was being shown on televisions in the press box.

"You know what I've always said: Do it yourself,” Dorsey said. “ It's not somebody else. ... Do it yourself, and that's the only way good teams do it."

Dorsey and Reid inherited a team that was anything but good. The Chiefs finished 2-14 last season but under new leadership orchestrated one of the great turnarounds in NFL history.

“I’m most proud of the players and the perseverance they had,” Reid said. “Us coming in as mostly new coaches … the main thing was the guys buying into the things we presented to them. That’s not always easy. These guys trust each other, they trust the coaches and they play as a unit.

“They’re happy for each other, they pull for each other. It doesn’t matter if you’re on offense, defense or special teams. That’s priceless.”

To reach Randy Covitz, call 816-234-4796 or send email to rcovitz@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @randycovitz.
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