An A-Z rewind of the Chiefs’ 34-15 victory at Miami and a fast-forward glance ahead:
A is for Arrowhead Stadium, which is supposed to provide an advantage for the Chiefs but where they’ve lost four straight as they prepare to take on New England there on Sept. 29.
B is for bedlam ahead … if the Royals are playing a 163rd game, a play-in, that same day across the lot at Kauffman Stadium to try to secure a playoff berth. That’s one of the potential scenarios as the Royals seek their first postseason appearance since 1985.
C is for Charles, Jamaal, who sat out against the Dolphins with a high-ankle sprain and remains out indefinitely with nine carries for 23 yards to his credit this season.
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D is for Davis, Knile, the second-year running back who continues to offset Charles’ absence. On Sunday, he had 32 carries for 132 yards … more than Charles had in all but one game last season.
E is for end zone initiations: Of the five touchdowns the Chiefs scored on Sunday, two were career firsts (Travis Kelce and Cyrus Gray) and the other two were offensive firsts (Joe McKnight).
F is for Frankie Hammond Jr., who has the nerve of a high-wire act as a return man, including five punt returns for 100 yards on Sunday … even as he defies logic with some of his decisions.
G is for Gray, Cyrus, who reminds that his value and versatility go beyond just being the captain of all special teams. Gray scored his first career touchdown on a 6-yard run in the waning seconds of the game.
H is for heat, which the Chiefs defense brought in the form of four sacks combined among Dontari Poe, Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Chris Owens.
I is for identity emerging … apparently, that is. Between a clunker 26-10 loss to Tennessee in the opener and a relatively reassuring 24-17 loss at Denver last week, the Chiefs had made contradicting statements of who they are. The victory over the Dolphins shades it in some in the right direction. But how they navigate the next three games will say a lot more: After playing host to the Patriots, the Chiefs travel to San Francisco and San Diego with a bye week in between.
J is for Joe McKnight, who sat out 2013 amid a series of issues after being cut by the New York Jets. But he demonstrated why he has long been seen as an abundant talent waiting to be harnessed with his first two career offensive touchdowns as he led the Chiefs in receptions with six for 64 yards. He also returned three kick for 65 yards.
K is for kickoff coverage, which best be a point of emphasis this week after being liable for returns of 74 and 40 yards by Jarvis Landry.
L is losses, three, which would have made any lingering playoff hopes far-fetched. No team has started 0-3 and made the postseason since 1998.
M is for Monday Night Football, which the Chiefs will be appearing on for the first time since Nov. 12, 2012, when they play the Patriots. Their last appearance was a 16-13 loss to Pittsburgh but also was marked by an odd highlight of that abominable 2-14 season. Jamaal Charles’ 12-yard touchdown run in the first quarter gave the Chiefs their first in-game lead of the season in their ninth game. In their only victory preceding, they took the lead for the first time in overtime on Ryan Succop’s sixth field goal of the game.
N is for number of Sunday home games the Chiefs will have played before Oct. 26: one, the opener against Tennessee.
O is for offense, which produced 34 points, more than the Chiefs managed in any of the first 10 games in coach Andy Reid’s 2013 debut season here.
P is for Patriot games: The Chiefs are 16-13-3 against New England but have lost five of the last six matchups.
Q is for quarterback Alex Smith, who was off-balance in the Chiefs opener against Tennessee, throwing three interceptions (that weren’t all his fault) but has been his customary self since despite a costly fumble on Sunday. Against the Dolphins, Smith completed 19 of 25 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns … with no interceptions for a second straight week.
R is for Reid, who deserves big kudos for redirecting the course of the season since the opener. No one knows where this is going yet, and a playoff berth still seems improbable, but there now seems no reason to assume gloom, either.
S is for sacks allowed by the Chiefs, five. Something has to change here … or something’s going to give before long.
T is for third-down conversions, which the Chiefs have mastered the last two weeks after converting just one of 12 in the opener. Since then, they’ve clicked on 22 of 32, including nine of 16 Sunday.
U is for unknown: When will key players Charles, De’Anthony Thomas (hamstring) and Eric Berry (ankle) return from injuries?
V is for vulnerable, which the Chiefs run defense was in allowing 7.1 yards a carry.
W is for wild, as in tight ends gone wild, as the Chiefs opened the game in a three tight end set with Travis Kelce, Anthony Fasano and Demetrius Harris.
X is for X-factor: Time management. This can be a misleading statistic, but it’s been telling for the Chiefs, who led the ball for 33 minutes 42 seconds on Sunday. That means over the last two weeks, they’ve had it 69:56 to their opponents’ 50:04.
Y is for yards punting, 255 on five kicks, by Dustin Colquitt. Beyond averaging 51 yards, Colquitt also plopped one at the Miami 4 for his sixth such landing inside the 20 in 12 punts this season … and the 291st time in his career.
Z is for zebras, the officials, who called just 10 penalties (four on the Chiefs) on Sunday. Against Denver a week earlier, the Chiefs were cited nine times as the Broncos were nabbed for 13 calls.