An in-game injury to a placekicker is often a recipe for disaster, but despite losing Harrison Butker to a rolled left ankle early in Sunday's game against Arizona, the Kansas City Chiefs were in good shape courtesy of their secret weapon: safety and backup kicker Justin Reid.
Reid, whose kicking abilities gained increasing attention during the preseason, came through in a big way following Butker's departure, as the veteran defensive back connected on 1-of-2 extra point attempts and handled kickoffs through much of the game.
"I mean listen, he's got a big leg," Head Coach Andy Reid said. "Those kickoffs were something, and then he had an extra point. We appreciate him being able to do that, I thought he did a heck of a job."
Whether or not Chiefs Kingdom knew the safety could kick prior to his successful extra point attempt during the preseason, Justin Reid was always confident in his abilities.
"I really had a ton of fun out there," Justin Reid said. "It really threw me back to my high school days just getting out there and having fun. I always wanted it on tape, just so people knew that I really could kick. Well, it's up there now and I'm sure everyone's seen it."
Justin Reid said as soon as he was made aware that Butker got hurt, he was really just 'thrown into the fire'. In training camp earlier on the year though, Reid nailed a 65-yard field goal that showed off an additional skill in his back pocket.
"We run a tough training camp and those new guys grinded through that," quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. "When we get in the game, though, you kind of see who everybody is, and I think you saw some of those guys step up and make plays whenever their number got called."
Crediting Andy Reid with how well he prepares his team every year, Justin Reid said that as soon as he found out he was needed, he knew he was ready for it. He also may have fulfilled some childhood dreams of being a kicker, as he told NFL Network's Good Morning Football earlier this year that soccer was always his favorite sport until he decided to become a football player.
"I had big plans, when I was young, to go and play in Europe," Justin Reid said during the preseason. "You know, be like Didier Drogba, maybe go play for Chelsea. I eventually ended up finding a love and passion in football. Around eighth or ninth grade, I made the switch, but I always kept my kicking background. I kicked in high school."
Besides unexpectedly recording his first NFL kicking stats in the game on Sunday, Reid contributed to the Chiefs' defensive success as well. The defense held the Cardinals to 3-of-12 on third down and Reid had four tackles (2 solo).
Mahomes and Andy Reid both touched on how well all three phases played against the Cardinals in their press conferences afterwards. After all, even though the Chiefs' defense didn't score, Justin Reid hopped over to special teams to knock down an extra point.
"I was never short of confidence," Justin Reid said. "And as impressive as everyone thought it was for a safety to kick, I thought it was impressive for Harrison to take one step and kick a 50 plus yard field goal – that was unbelievable."
Reid was referencing a gutsy decision by Butker to attempt – and successfully convert – a 54-yard field goal after returning to the game despite being carted off only a few quarters earlier. Butker nailed the kick with no run-up at all, and he was later also 100 percent on extra points. The field goal was Butker's 21st 50-plus yard field goal, setting a record for the most in Chiefs' history.
"I know a little bit about kicking," Justin Reid said. "And that was absolutely unbelievable for him to step up and do that. Run through the pain, take one step and drive it home. Really, really impressive."
The Chiefs return to action on Thursday night with a matchup against the rival Los Angeles Chargers at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Catch the game on Prime Video at 7:15 p.m. CT.