Chiefs vs. Bills: 10 Observations

Here are 10 things that stood out about the game on Sunday

The Kansas City Chiefs (6-5) beat the Buffalo Bills (5-6) by a score of 30-22 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City Sunday afternoon.

The Chiefs have now won five consecutive games and are over .500 for the first time since their Week 1 win over the Houston Texans.

1. Chiefs fall behind early, fight back

It was a different kind of win on Sunday for the Chiefs, at least in comparison to what we've seen from them during this winning streak.

Over the previous four games, the Chiefs outscored their opponents 64-9 in the first half.

After one quarter of play on Sunday, they trailed the Bills 10-0. 

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What happened after that is a tangible example of the toughness and leadership that Chiefs coach Andy Reid has praised about this team since training camp.

They did not flinch due to the score, key injuries or counterpunches thrown by their opponent.

It's not always going to be pretty or perfect, but the Chiefs showed their character, attitude and toughness on Sunday in a key victory over the Bills.

2. Spencer Ware breathes life into Chiefs offense in the first half

With second-year running back Charcandrick West missing the game with a hamstring injury, the time had come for Spencer Ware to get his opportunity.

After a relief outing last week in San Diego that saw Ware get 11 carries for 96 yards and a couple of touchdowns, the question became whether or not he could do it again, particularly when he was going to be "the man" from the beginning.

Without missing a beat, Ware stepped up to that challenge.

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He finished the game with 19 carries for 114 yards rushing and a touchdown, averaging 6.0 yards per carry and what will undoubtedly be an extremely impressive yards-after-first-contact average.

He was running like a man possessed and it was impressive to watch.

But perhaps what was even more impressive was that it was Ware that breathed life into the Chiefs offense after they struggled to get much going early in the game.

On their first three offensive drives, the Chiefs gained 29 yards on 10 plays. On the fourth drive and trailing 10-0, they leaned on Ware, and he delivered.

Four of the six plays on that drive went to Ware, totaling 35 yards rushing and culminating with his 3-yard touchdown run, which put the Chiefs on the board and seemed to settle everyone inside Arrowhead Stadium. 

3. The conditions weren't ideal, but it definitely had the feel of "football weather"

It's something that was discussed towards the end of the week as the weather forecast showed it was going to be cold and rainy throughout Sunday's game.

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The phrase "football weather" got thrown around quite a bit, and it definitely had the feel of a physical, throwback fall football game.

Rain came down throughout the game, and with temperatures just above freezing, the field was definitely slick and the fans in attendance definitely got their honor badge for this one (particularly the many who were at the stadium tailgating before breakfast).

Respect.

4. Tyrod Taylor and Sammy Watkins impress early; Chiefs defense responds late

In the first quarter alone, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor completed 9 of 14 for 151 yards and a touchdown.

The weather conditions being what they were made the fast start that much more impressive.

The Bills converted three of their four third-down opportunities in the first quarter, helping them carry a 183 to 29 total yards advantage over the Chiefs through the first 15 minutes of the game.

Sammy Watkins flourished in the first half, finishing with an impressive 6 receptions for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he finished the game with those exact same numbers.

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There has to be credit thrown in the direction of Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton as well as the entire defensive backfield, which made plays in the second half when it to step up.

After giving up some plays in the first half, veteran cornerback Sean Smith responded in the second half by not allowing a single reception.

The defense also forced 2 turnovers on Sunday, which gives them 14 takeaways during this five-game winning streak.

With the offense not turning it over for the fifth straight game, a franchise record, the turnover ratio once again becomes the key stat in the Chiefs win on Sunday.

5. Key injuries on Sunday provide opportunity for the next man up to step up, which they did

The Chiefs are no strangers to key injuries this season after losing running back Jamaal Charles due to a torn ACL back in Week 5. They endured a few more key injuries on Sunday.

On a first-and-15 offensive play by the Bills with 4:05 remaining in the first quarter, linebacker Justin Houston went down with a knee injury and was helped off the field by the Chiefs training staff.

It appeared that he made contact with a teammate and went down after dropping into coverage.

Houston did not return.

In his absence, veteran Frank Zombo stepped up and made some plays down the stretch for the Chiefs defense.

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Along the offensive line, Eric Fisher (neck) left the game with an injury and did not return. Rookie center Mitch Morse left the game with a concussion and did not return. Finally, Jeff Allen left for a bit as his ankle got rolled up on, but he would return.

The Chiefs were down to five healthy offensive linemen to finish Sunday's game, and that's including Allen, who left for a while and only returned when Morse had to leave with a concussion.

It was Donald Stephenson who stepped in at left tackle for Fisher, and Zach Fulton stepped in for a few plays at guard after Allen left and then eventually returned, but Fulton would just move over to center when Morse left.  

Everybody played a part in Sunday's victory, and it was glaring proof of the depth the Chiefs have and how well the coaching staff has gotten everyone, not just the starters, prepared and ready for these games.

6. The vertical passing game was working on Sunday

The Bills ran a lot of single-high looks throughout much of Sunday's game, which was giving veteran Jeremy Maclin and Alex Smith the look they needed to try and beat them over the top.

On three key plays, Smith and Maclin connected for big gains down the field.

The first was a 37-yarder on first-and-10 from the 40-yard line midway through the second quarter. Maclin had to come back and make a nice sliding catch for the gain, and on the very next play, Ware ran it in from 3 yards to get the Chiefs on the board.

On Kansas City's next offensive drive, Maclin took the first pass for 14 yards on first down, then came back after a penalty on the Bills for a deep connection.

On a similar looking play in the same area of the field with under two minutes remaining in the first half, Maclin beat his man in one-on-one coverage again and Smith placed this ball perfectly over his shoulder for the 41-yard touchdown.

The third big hookup came in the third quarter on second-and-11 from midfield, when Maclin once again got over the top of the defense and haul in the 32-yard reception.

Just two plays later, Smith hit tight end Travis Kelce for the 15-yard touchdown strike.

Smith finished the game 19 of 30 for 255 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Three plays on vertical routes from Smith to Maclin, all of which directly led to touchdowns, were a key component in the Chiefs picking up their fifth consecutive victory.

Maclin finished the game with 9 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown. Only twice in his career, both times with the Philadelphia Eagles, has Maclin finished with more yards receiving in a single game.

7. Familiar face steps up when his team needed him

He's been doing it for more than a decade now, and veteran linebacker Tamba Hali stepped up again in a big way on Sunday.

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With the Chiefs nervously clinging to a 21-16 lead midway through the third quarter, the Bills faced a third-and-6 from their own 36-yard line.

Then, what we've seen from him 33 times now in his career, Hali makes a game-changing play when he's needed the most.

He forced the 33rd fumble of his career as Dontari Poe recovered and the offense received fantastic field position and an opportunity to add to their lead. 

This particular forced fumble came in the form of a strip-sack, which was sack No. 86 in Hali's storied career.

When you add in the fact that Houston had left the game early with injury, Hali's play became that much more crucial.

Hali finished the game with 4 tackles, 3 quarterback hits, 1 sack and the forced fumble.

8. Travis Kelce demonstrated a lot of what makes him great on one single play

The Chiefs offense had five plays go for at least 32 yards, which is exactly the kind of chunk yardage you want to see from them in a back-and-forth contest like they had on Sunday.

And while jabs are great, throwing an uppercut always works too.

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One could argue that Kelce's 38-yard reception midway through the third quarter was one of the key plays in the game.

The Chiefs led 24-22 and were facing a third-and-2 from their own 29-yard line. The Bills had just scored a touchdown and grabbed back a little momentum.

Smith found Kelce across the middle, and while the throw was a little low, that wasn't a problem for Kelce, who showed great hands by making the catch and then the speed that made him, at least at one point, the fastest tight end in the NFL.

Finally, Kelce showed the physicality by stiff-arming the would-be tackler and gaining a few extra yards in the process.

The drive resulted in a key field goal by Cairo Santos, who gave the Chiefs a 27-22 lead with his 38-yard kick early in the fourth quarter.

It was Kelce's catch and run that made it happen.

Photos from the Chiefs Week 12 matchup against the Bills

9. Offensive line grinds out win in fourth quarter

With two starters on the offensive line out and relying on their third running back in Ware, the Chiefs had the ball at their own 11-yard line holding a 27-22 lead with 10:01 remaining in the game.

It was time to grind out a win, if they could.

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11 plays and 70 yards later, the Chiefs ran 6:31 off the clock and Santos hit a 37-yard field goal. The Chiefs took control of the game both on the scoreboard and in the trenches.

Of those 70 yards, 50 came from the ground from Ware, whose 35-yard bulldozing run on the first play of the series set the tone for what this drive and game would ultimately become: a statement of this team's toughness and desire to win.

Allen's return from injury to come back and hold down the left guard spot late in the game and on that final drive shouldn't ever be forgotten. He showed what he's about in this game.

10. Cairo Santos comes up big on Sunday

He's quietly having a fantastic season, and Cairo Santos stepped up for the Chiefs again on Sunday.

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He finished 3 of 4 on the day on field goals, with his only miss hitting the cross bar on a 54-yard attempt in a freezing rain storm to close out the first half.

Santos hit three field goals in the second half, including two in the fourth quarter from 38 and 37 yards, respectively, to help seal the win for the Chiefs.

His 23 field goals this season ties him for third-most in the NFL.

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