Jets outlast Chiefs in wild finish
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Kansas City Chiefs had big plays abounding. But their free fall continued while the New York Jets are rebounding.
Kansas City’s Bennie Logan and Steven Nelson were the goats because, after their defensive penalties, the Jets finally stepped on the Chiefs’ throats.
New York beat the Chiefs 38-31, and now the pressure on Kansas City must weigh a ton.
OK, enough rhyming. Let’s get to the ugly truth for Kansas City.
After winning their first five games, the Chiefs (6-6) have now lost six of seven, including four straight, and their hold atop the AFC West is gone. Oakland’s win over the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Chargers’ win over Cleveland leaves all three teams with 6-6 records.
Logan, Nelson and Marcus Peters (more on him shortly) didn’t speak to the media after the game about their gaffes, but their teammates said the Chiefs must remain positive despite what has been nearly two months of poor play.
“We definitely can’t show frustration, because if we do, it’ll definitely get the best of us,” said Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who scored on two long second-half touchdown passes from Alex Smith and finished with a season-high 185 receiving yards. “Nobody can’t point no fingers, we’re all grown men. We came in 5-0, so who would’ve thought?”
Nobody would’ve thought. Just like nobody could’ve predicted the ending of this game, one of the weirdest finishes you’ll ever see.
The Jets (5-7), who had also lost five of six coming in, including numerous fourth-quarter collapses, had first-and-goal from the Chiefs’ 5-yard line, down 31-30, with 6:03 left in the game after Jermaine Kearse’s 51-yard reception.
Ten plays later quarterback Josh McCown bulled into the end zone from a yard out for the winning touchdown with 2:15 to play. So what happened in the nearly four minutes in between?
Well, Logan was called for unnecessary roughness on a field-goal attempt when he hit long snapper Thomas Hennessy with 3:58 left to give the Jets a first down on the 1-yard line. After two Bilal Powell runs, Nelson had a holding penalty on third down with 2:39 left to give New York another first down, this time on the 2-yard line.
Two more runs by Powell got the Jets down to the 1-yard line -- and forced Kansas City to use its last two timeouts -- before McCown finally scored his second rushing touchdown of the game to give the Jets a 36-31 lead.
But the fun wasn’t over. The Jets went for two, and on the play, Nelson was again called for holding after McCown dropped back about 30 yards. Peters had had just about enough at that point, chucking a penalty flag into the stands (which a fan caught, as you’ll see on highlight programs tonight).
The move drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Peters left the field despite not being ejected. He later returned, but without his socks.
Rookie Elijah McGuire ran in the conversion to provide the final margin, as the Chiefs couldn’t convert on fourth down from the Jets’ 19-yard line on their last-gasp attempt to tie the game.
“Hat’s off to the Jets, they made plays,” said Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce, who caught two first-quarter touchdowns and finished with four catches for 94 yards. “Got a little help from the refs there at the end. ... It is what it is.”
The Jets remained two games behind the final wild-card spot in the AFC to keep their slim playoff hopes alive with four games left.
“It’s refreshing to come out and finally win one of these,” said head coach Todd Bowles, referencing his team’s well-documented fourth-quarter meltdowns this season.
New York held the ball for nearly 43 minutes, including scoring drives of 10, 11, 14 and 18 plays. But the Chiefs kept hitting big plays.
Smith, who reportedly would have been benched had he not played well, finished 19 of 33 passing for 366 yards, two shy of his season high, and four touchdowns. He also had a 70-yard run to set up a Harrison Butker field goal.
Smith hit Hill on a 79-yard go route to tie the game at 24 one play after the Jets capped an 18-play drive with Chandler Catanzaro’s 27-yard field goal. The drive took the first 9:31 of the second half.
After two more Catanzaro field goals, Smith connected with Hill for a 40-yard touchdown with 9:13 left in the fourth quarter to give Kansas City a 31-30 lead.
“Alex played his tail off and is one of the best competitors in the NFL,” Kelce said. “I‘m sick of hearing Alex Smith is the reason we aren’t winning.”
McCown also played his tail off. The 38-year-old had his second straight 300-yard passing game and also had two rushing touchdowns. Kearse (nine catches for 157 yards) and Robby Anderson (eight for 107) have each had back-to-back 100-yard receiving efforts.
“He’s 38, but he looks like he’s 26 out there,” Kearse said of McCown. “He’s been huge for us.”
It was announced earlier in the day that Chiefs head coach Andy Reid ceded play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, and the move seemed to pay immediate dividends in a high-scoring first quarter.
Smith threw two long touchdowns to Kelce but New York fought back. Powell and McCown each scored on 1-yard runs to tie the game, and the Jets took a 21-17 halftime lead on Matt Forte’s 11-yard catch over the middle.
Later on, things got crazy, and now the Chiefs’ playoff hopes are quite hazy.
NOTES: Jets QB Josh McCown leads the Jets with five rushing touchdowns. ... Jets RB Matt Forte had his third reception of 20-plus yards this season. ... New York WRs Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson each had 100-yard receiving games for the second straight week. ... Chiefs QB Alex Smith reached 20 passing touchdowns for the third time in his career (2013, 23; 2015, 20). ... Chiefs DE Allen Bailey was injured in the first quarter and did not return. ... Kansas City C Mitch Morse was injured early in the second quarter. ... Chiefs rookie K Harrison Butker missed wide right from 38 yards out, only his second miss of the season and first since his debut in Week 4.