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Chiefs A-Z: A look back at what went wrong (and right) in 2014

Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel misfired only four times in his first 17 passes, and though he finished the game 16 of 27 for 157 yards — he had a rough second half — he occasionally took some shots downfield and impressed his bosses with his play in relief of quarterback Alex Smith, who missed the game with a lacerated spleen.
Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel misfired only four times in his first 17 passes, and though he finished the game 16 of 27 for 157 yards — he had a rough second half — he occasionally took some shots downfield and impressed his bosses with his play in relief of quarterback Alex Smith, who missed the game with a lacerated spleen. The Kansas City Star

An A-Z rewind of the Chiefs’ 19-7 victory over San Diego … and their season.

A is for Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs restored some order with a 6-2 record for their best home season since 2010 (7-1) after going 59-53 at Arrowhead in the previous 14 seasons.

B is for back-to-back winning seasons for the Chiefs (9-7), their first since 2005-2006 and second since a nine-year streak of winning seasons ended in 1997.

C is for Chase Daniel, the reserve quarterback who further validated his NFL credentials on Sunday in place of injured starter Alex Smith. Executing a conservative game plan, Daniel stayed cool and largely made good decisions as he finished 16 of 27 for 157 yards. He is 37 of 68 for 357 yards in two career starts, each a season-ending game against San Diego.

D is for De’Anthony Thomas, the electrifying rookie who had four punt returns for 69 yards and a rush for 18 on Sunday. The Chiefs still are picking their spots for Thomas, but it seems they’d be well-served to find a bunch more of those in 2015.

E is for element of suspense: Entering the fourth quarter of all three games the Chiefs needed to fall right Sunday to salvage a playoff berth, all three were playing out as the Chiefs required. But Houston and Baltimore rallied to win and snuff out the Chiefs’ bid despite their own victory.

F is for field goals by rookie kicker Cairo Santos, 25 (on 30 attempts), tying Ryan Succop (in 2009) for the most by a rookie kicker in franchise history. Eight of Santos’ field goals came in the last two games, during which he scored 25 of the team’s 31 total points.

G is for game of inches: Five of the Chiefs seven losses were by eight points or fewer; they won three games by four or fewer.

H is for Houston, Justin, the Chiefs’ linebacker who broke Derrick Thomas’ team record for sacks (20) with four on Sunday, leaving Houston with 22 for the season — a half-sack from tying Michael Strahan’s single-season NFL record.

I is for interceptions, two by safety Kurt Coleman to make him the team’s season leader with three. The Chiefs intercepted only six all season.

J is for Jamaal Charles, the star running back who rushed 13 times for 54 yards to finish with 1,033 and extend his franchise record of 1,000-yard seasons to five.

K is for Knile Davis, the running back whose role diminished as the season went on. He had 48 carries for 329 yards over consecutive September games against Miami and New England … and 76 carries for 134 yards otherwise.

L is for little bit different: Despite being plus-three on Sunday, the Chiefs committed more turnovers (17) than they forced (14) this season. In 2013, they forced 36 and committed 21.

M is for Mauga, Josh, the linebacker who after two injury-riddled seasons with the Jets wasn’t sure he’d still have an NFL career but led the Chiefs with 103 tackles.

N is not ready for prime time: There are plenty of reasons the Chiefs aren’t in the playoffs, but nothing looms larger than how unprepared to play they were for the season-opening loss to Tennessee (2-14) and their Nov. 20 loss at then-winless Oakland (3-13) — teams that otherwise were 3-27.

O is for only team not to give up 30 or more points in a game this season, the Chiefs.

P is for pattern: Including their 2-4 stretch run this season and their playoff loss to Indianapolis last season, the Chiefs are 4-11 the last two seasons after Nov. 16 after going 16-3 (9-0, 7-3) up to then.

Q is for quite simply, the Chiefs aren’t going to be a playoff team again without substantial upgrades in offensive line and receiver play and/or personnel.

R is for rushing touchdowns given up by the Chiefs, four all season, eclipsing the team record of six set in 14-game seasons in 1969 and 1971.

S is for sacks by the opposition this season, 49, after the Chargers added four more to the ledger Sunday. ‘Nuff said.

T is for touchdowns for the Chiefs, one in their last nine quarters of the season, scored on Travis Kelce’s end zone recovery of a Dwayne Bowe fumble Sunday to culminate a season-long 94-yard drive.

U is for unfortunate: the emotionally deflating way the Chiefs’ season started, with twin freak season-ending Achilles’ tendon ruptures to starting defenders Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito, and the far more serious issue of safety Eric Berry being diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma after the first Oakland game.

V is for viewpoint: Year Two of the Andy Reid/John Dorsey era was a disappointment with no discernible progress from 2013. Just the same, the Chiefs are 20-12 the last two seasons after going 29-67 the previous six and bottoming out at 2-14 in 2012. Things are way better, of course. But with that … the bar is raised.

W is for wide receivers of the Chiefs, who, truly incredibly, contributed not one touchdown all season.

X is for X-factor: In his second season, Kelce led the Chiefs with 67 catches for 862 yards and has a chance to be a star if he can properly harness his emotions on the field.

Y is for yards a game by the Chiefs, 318.8, better than only seven teams, the last four of which are Tennessee (2-14), Tampa Bay (2-14), Jacksonville (3-13) and Oakland (3-13).

Z is for zero, the number of Chiefs playoff wins since Jan. 16, 1994 … and until at least 2016.

To reach Vahe Gregorian, call 816-234-4868 or send email to vgregorian@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @vgregorian. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com

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