KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Andy Reid rarely deals with his own past and prefers to stay in the moment or focus entirely on the future. This approach has served him well in his coaching career and may have brought him to the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day.
But when his Kansas City Chiefs encountered an apparently insurmountable hole in the playoff division round, Reid had to think about his last game as an offensive officer at BYU for almost four decades. It was the Holiday Bowl and SMU had taken a 45-25 lead in the fourth quarter. Almost everyone at Jack Murphy Stadium thought that evening was over just to be stunned to see the Cougars score three late touchdowns to win the game.
“There’s something in there. You had this hope, ”said Reid this week when asked what gave him confidence that Kansas City could beat the Texans 51-31 for a place in the AFC championship game. “You had this hope. Then it is the feeling of your team. You’re on the sidelines, you’ve been down there long enough, you can feel what they’re thinking, where their thoughts are. These guys didn’t flinch. Let’s get it right. “
The chiefs (13-4) tidied up the rest of the way. And the comeback of a 24-0 deficit drove them to a matchup Sunday against Tennessee (11: 7), which only got the patriots and top seed Ravens – no less on the street – off the pitch Abyss to reach the super bowl.
It will be the first time that Titans coach Mike Vrabel trains so deep in the playoffs, but his counterpart certainly knows that. Reid had the Chiefs in the same position a year ago when they lost to New England in extra time – the Patriots won the toss and marched into the field for a touchdown – and he led the Eagles to five NFC in his 14 years in Philadelphia Championship games.
“I did a couple of them,” said Reid, “and you know we try to keep it as normal as possible, as far as the schedule goes, so that players can get their work done.” One thing that changes is how fast the game is. From experience, I can tell you how big it is if you take a step up in the playoffs – it’s a one-time knockout. “
The experience is great. Successful experience is better, and this is where Reid falls behind. His only conference title came during the 2004 season when the Eagles lost the Super Bowl to the Patriots. And who should be on the New England squad that night but a game-destroying linebacker named Vrabel who even got a touchdown pass?
Vrabel may not have experience as a coach, but he has a lot of experience as a player. He won the Lombardi Trophy three times with New England before accidentally ending his career with two seasons in Kansas City.
“I was in the National Football League for 14 years,” said Vrabel, “and I don’t even know how many playoff games there were, but those were good experiences with preparing and focusing on what was going on from there to that point. ” different points in the season. And then there are things I as a trainer have to do to make sure we’re ready. “
On the offensive, that means pushing Derrick Henry back and producing just enough of Ryan Tannehill, as did the titans in week 10 when they defeated the chiefs.
On the defensive, this means slowing down the airstrike by quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his fleet of pioneering playmakers: Damien Williams, Travis Kelce and wide-angle receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins are being returned.
“I think there is primarily a belief in one another,” said Tannehill. “We have been through a lot this season, winning ups and downs and playing games in many different ways. This is accompanied by a lot of faith and trust in each other.”
The chiefs have a lot of confidence. They haven’t lost since the game in Tennessee, and their comeback last week made them believe they can overcome anything. Their offensive is still record-breaking, and a modified defense under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has played just like everyone else in the league.
“I think the titans have great physicality and determination to play with,” said Mahomes. Your defense will fly to the ball and will not give up anything. We’re just trying to match that. We’ll go out there and do everything we can to win. “
Henry was the first player in the Super Bowl era to make history who ran at least 180 yards in three consecutive games, and nobody has more yards in the first four postseason games than his 561. He also has the three best games in Titans set a milestone for one game in the postseason in the postseason and even threw a jump pass for a touchdown in the 28:12 win in Baltimore.
“We always knew he was a beast,” said Kevin Byard. “I’m just glad that the whole world knows it too.”
Mahomes seems to be forgotten in the brilliant season of Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and has put together an MVP resume again. He also kept it going in the playoffs and was the first player to throw at least 300 meters, run at least 50, and throw five TD passes in a single playoff game against Houston last week. He is also healthy after ankle and knee injuries this season, including one that hobbled him against Tennessee at week 10.
The Titans again have the stingy defense that they played most of the season, including the first seven games in which they didn’t allow an opponent to score more than 20 points. They only allowed two touchdowns on seven chances within their 20, thanks in part to the return of injured cornerback Adoree ‘Jackson. Defensive captain and defender Jurrell Casey said they wanted to make sure and try to agree with what the crime did.
“And it’s just guys who lock themselves up again,” Casey said.
The Chiefs Travis Kelce became the first player with three touchdown catches after the season in a quarter in last week’s comeback against Houston. It was another high point in another Pro Bowl season for the tight end, which had dealt with mild knee pain in the postseason, but should be ready to get started on Sunday.
“I just have to stay on the accelerator,” he said. “You can’t be too excited, you can’t get a sense of relief like,” Oh, we’re back in the game. “You have to keep going and know that you still have a lot to do.”
The Titans have not won a conference championship since 1999 and have not appeared in a title game since 2002, although the Chiefs will likely look like yesterday. It’s been 50 years since they played in the Super Bowl, and they want to give owner Clark Hunt the AFC championship title that bears the name of his father, team founder Lamar Hunt.
“We will put pressure on ourselves to find a way to win,” said Mahomes. “If you become so scarce and so scarce last year, the next step is to get to the Super Bowl. We understand that this season is starting and we know it is a long season. We know that it is is a process. We know it’s day by day. ” We have to get better. I think that’s what this team can do great. It gets better every day and then it goes out and fights to the end on every opportunity we get. “
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.