Countdown: The Top Five Defensive Plays of 2014

Recapping the Chiefs’ best defensive plays of the season

The Chiefs defense allowed just 330.5 yards per game this season, the seventh best rate in the league.

Here is a look back at the defense's five best plays this season:

  1. Week 13 – 14:10 3Q – 3rd and 3 – Justin Houston strip-sacks Peyton Manning
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The Chiefs trailed the Denver Broncos at home, 20-7, when the second half began in Week 13. To make matters worse, the Broncos, already with the 13-point lead, were starting the third quarter with the ball.

After a 7-yard completion on first down followed by an incomplete pass on second down, Peyton Manning lined up in the shotgun facing third-and-3 on Denver's own 28-yard line.

Justin Houston, starting in his usual spot on the outside, jumped at the snap and completely outran Broncos right tackle Louis Vasquez and got to Manning before he could get the pass off.

Manning fumbled the football and Kurt Coleman recovered it to give the Chiefs excellent field position as they took over possession.

Unfortunately for the Chiefs, the offense could not take full advantage of the turnover and had to settle for a 39-yard field goal, only narrowing the gap to 10 points.

  1. Week 4 – 10:44 4Q – 3rd and 4 – Husain Abdullah returns interception 39 yards for a touchdown
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The Patriots were already losing by four scores when quarterback Tom Brady took over the ball in Week 4 on Monday Night Football.

The Patriots had third-and-4 from their own 26-yard line and Brady came to the line with an empty-shotgun look.

Brady was trying to find wide receiver Danny Amendola, and with Chiefs defenders closing in on him, he hurled an underthrown ball into the hands of safety Husain Abdullah.

Abdullah followed key blocks from Houston and Sean Smith and returned the ball 39 yards for the touchdown and the 41-7 lead.

  1. Week 7 – 9:44 4Q – 3rd and 6 – Phillip Gaines breaks up pass to Keenan Allen in end zone 
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The Chargers trailed the Chiefs by six points, 20-14, when running back Branden Oliver broke off a 13-yard run that set up first-and-goal for San Diego at the Chiefs 10-yard line with time ticking away in the fourth quarter in Week 7.

The next play was another Oliver run for four yards that brought the Chargers to the 6, and Rivers threw an incomplete pass to Malcom Floyd on the next down.

That set up third-and-goal with six yards to get, and Rivers challenged rookie cornerback Philip Gaines, who was covering Keenan Allen one on one.

Allen ran a vertical route and Gaines stuck with him the entire way for the pass breakup.

The Chargers were forced to settle for a field goal and the Chiefs would eventually win the game, 23-20.

Photos of the best plays on defense in 2014.

  1. Week 11 – 4Q – Chiefs stop Seahawks three times on fourth down in the fourth quarter
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The Chiefs grabbed a 24-20 lead against the Seattle Seahawks early in the fourth quarter in front of a rocking Arrowhead Stadium crowd, and the team turned to the defense the rest of the way to finish the job.

For that to happen, the defense would be called upon to stop the Seahawks offense on fourth down three times.

The first Seahawks fourth-down attempt occurred with just over seven minutes remaining in the game on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line. The Chiefs had kept RB Marshawn Lynch out of the end zone the play before, and following a Chiefs timeout, QB Russell Wilson opted for a fade pass to WR Doug Baldwin.

The ball was overthrown and the Chiefs took the possession.

The Seahawks offense started again at the 45-yard line following an empty Chiefs drive and after three downs, found itself in another fourth-down situation, this time with one yard to go.

Unlike their last attempt, Seattle opted to use Marshawn Lynch on this try, but the Chiefs front line held up for their second forced turnover on downs of the quarter. Defensive lineman Jaye Howard played a huge role on the play in holding Lynch back.

After getting the ball back, the Chiefs went three-and-out, so with a little less than three minutes in the game, the Seahawks received one more chance to score a touchdown.

Wilson converted an unlikely third down on a 23-yard pass to Baldwin, and the Seahawks, with no timeouts remaining, had first-and-10 at their own 28-yard line.

Wilson threw an incomplete pass on first down and DL Dontari Poe had a key sack for a loss of 9 on second to force the Seahawks to first third and eventually fourth-and-19.

Out of the shotgun formation with Lynch in the backfield, Wilson intended a long pass to WR Paul Richardson down the left sideline, but CB Sean Smith, who was one-on-one with Richardson, broke up the play.

The Chiefs defense held three times in the fourth quarter for the 24-20 win.

  1. Week 17 – 11:35 3Q – Justin Houston sacks Philip Rivers and breaks Derrick Thomas' all-time sack record
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LB Justin Houston entered the Chiefs' final game of the season with 18 sacks, two shy of Kansas City legend Derrick Thomas' prestigious record of 20 sacks set in 1990.

Houston needed only the second quarter to tie the record as marks at 7:23 and 2:11 gave him 20 on the season.

This meant that he would have the entire second half to get the one sack he needed, but as the Chargers found out, he would barely need any time at all.

On the Chargers' third play of their first second-half possession, Houston beat San Diego right tackle D.J. Fluker for his 21st sack of the season.

The play was even more special because Houston stripped Rivers of the ball, something that Thomas was notorious for.

Linebacker Joe Mays recovered the football, and the Chiefs extended their lead to 12 points with a field goal on the ensuing possession.

There would be no more scoring in the game as the Chiefs defeated the Chargers, 19-7, and knocked them out of the postseason.

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