In the aftermath of the Chiefs’ 29-13 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, T.J. Ward was not a happy man.
Ward, a safety for the Broncos, was ejected in the fourth quarter for taking a swing at the head of Chiefs receiver Jeremy Maclin. The blow came at the end of Charcandrick West’s 80-yard touchdown catch and run, during which Maclin sprinted down field and wiped out Ward near the goal line.
“They were doing cheap things all game,” Ward said. “He (took a) shot (at) me again when it was an obvious touchdown already and I got kind of hot.”
Ward said it wasn’t just that play that frustrated him.
“It was their team as a whole,” Ward said. “They were a pretty dirty team: The O-linemen, receivers and tight ends. They were doing it last game and they continued to do it this game. It took an effect on me.”
Maclin, upon seeing Ward’s quotes, replied on Twitter.
“I’m cheap and dirty but you got ejected....oh ok makes sense,” Maclin wrote.
After the game, he elaborated on his feelings about the play at his locker.
“Listen,” Maclin said. “There are certain plays that shouldn’t be allowed in the game. Yeah, you want to be physical, you want to be tough. But at the same time, don’t disrespect the football game, and doing stuff like that is just disrespectful.”
When told about this the Broncos’ sentiments — a few of Ward’s teammates echoed his thoughts — Chiefs coach Andy Reid defended his team.
“Listen, we had the one (unnecessary roughness) call, (but) from there, everything was pretty cut and dry — it was hard-nosed football,” Reid said. “There are going to be sore bodies on each team from that game, it was a physical game.
“But people are going to say things, I understand that, that’s how things roll. Bottom line is you win the game and you do it within the rules.”
The Broncos’ defense sent a message to the Chiefs during their 31-24 win on Sept. 17, when three players — Von Miller, Darius Kilgo and Malik Jackson — were whistled for unnecessary roughness and another — DeMarcus Ware — was flagged for roughing the passer, all in the first half.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, didn’t have any roughness penalties. But that changed Sunday when right tackle Jah Reid took a shot in the second quarter at outside linebacker Von Miller, who was on the ground. Reid was assessed a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty that ultimately thwarted a drive.
“Yeah, listen, we appreciate the effort — I didn’t think he needed that extra part of it,” Andy Reid said. “He (already) did a great job (on the play), he didn’t need to do that. But you get the idea … it was early in the game, that was the frame of mind the guys were in.”
After the game, Jah Reid said he didn’t want the penalty but wanted to send a message.
“You’ve got to go out there and play tough — you’ve got to set an expectation for him for every play,” Jah Reid said of Miller. “He’s a good player, he can get up quick, I was just trying to keep him down. I wasn’t trying to be a dirty player.”
But Reid was trying to match the Broncos’ attitude.
“They’re a very physical team, they try to be a bully out there,” he said. “Our goal was, there was no way we were going to get bullied. We were going to be a bully in this game.”
The Chiefs had 11 penalties on Sunday compared to Denver’s five. But Reid’s penalty was the only roughing foul for the Chiefs, compared to the four the Broncos logged in the first game.
“There’s a point where you have to be smart with that — those things can disrupt drives,” Andy Reid said. “You can still play good, physical football without that.”
In Reid’s estimation, his team did that. And he gave his players credit for rising to the challenge.
“Yeah, listen, I think it comes from the players,” Reid said. “Nobody wants to be pushed around or whatever, so you take a lot of pride in what you do. And we’re fortunate where in our business, we have the opportunity to look at video and you can see things that go on and you don’t want them to happen to you.
“We had some incidents in the last game … so within the whistle, within the rules, you want to make sure that you don’t allow those things to happen. I thought the officials did a good job with it too, for the most part.”
The officials were certainly there on West’s fourth-quarter touchdown run, when Ward was ejected.
“You can’t get away with that in real life,” Maclin said. “You can’t punch somebody in the back of the head while they’re on the ground in real life and expect to get away with it.
“So, you know, hey. He hurt his team.”
It was, in many ways, a sweet end to a long-awaited win for the Chiefs, who snapped their seven-game losing streak against the Broncos and, some would say, finally stood up to them, too.
“We’ve got a tough football team,” Maclin said. “We’re going to match everybody’s intensity when it comes to that.”