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How does the Chiefs DL feel about facing the Patriots?

They are focused on continuing to set the tone for this Chiefs defense

Football is won and lost in the trenches—any coach will say that.

The guys not getting the credit they deserve are often the biggest guys on the field, whether we're talking about the offensive or defensive lines.

Much of what these guys do won't show up in a box score and can't be quantified but by the people who understand what is being asked of them from one play to the next.

"Football is the ultimate team game," linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "You can't do anything good unless your partner next to you does some good, and the trenches is probably the most important position in the postseason."

On Saturday, the Kansas City Chiefs travel to take on the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, which means facing arguably the greatest postseason quarterback in NFL history—Tom Brady, who has more wins (21), touchdowns (53) and yards passing (7,345) than anyone in playoff history.


When Brady spoke this week about what stands out to him about the Chiefs defense, he naturally went to the trenches.

"The D-line has so many guys who are capable of making plays and being disruptive and explosive," he noted. "That's why they've advanced to this point. That's why they're such a great defense. 

"It's a big challenge to face them."

The Chiefs are getting contributions from five different defensive linemen right now, and four of them are in a consistent rotation.

Chiefs DL Snaps in 2015

Dontari Poe


Jaye Howard


Allen Bailey


Mike DeVito


Nick Williams


When asked about facing Brady on Saturday, fellow defensive linemen Jaye Howard and Allen Bailey were on the same page.

"We can't get in his rhythm, and we can't expect the ball to be out quick every time because he'll leave it there and give us chances to get to him. So we've just got to keep rushing hard every play, and just keep coming," said Jaye Howard.

"We just can't give into his rhythm. We just have to keep on rushing and eventually we'll get there," said Allen Bailey.

One of the reasons the Chiefs defense has been able to weather the storm of a few games missed by both Allen Bailey and Mike DeVito is due to their versatility.

"We have players who are flexible and can play multiple positions," defensive coordinator Bob Sutton mentioned. "We don't have very many guys that are cubby-holed—almost every one of those guys have doubled up at some position in the game.

"That gives you I think a luxury, so to speak."

DeVito, Howard, Bailey and Poe can slide all up and down the defensive line, giving the offense an unpredictable look from one formation to the next.


"We know that any given moment, someone can make a big play on the D-line," Jaye Howard said. "You know we have good players, a good five-man rotation. When you're out there for those snaps, you're going to give it your all.

"If you're tired, the next person's going to come in and do something."

The Chiefs defense has given up an average of less than 12 points per game during the current 11-game winning streak, and while you won't find a defensive lineman in the top of the tackles department, sacks department or many highlight reels, the work they do allows things to happen on the back end.

It's easier for an outside linebacker to grab an interception or pick up a sack when it's third-and-long instead of third-and-short.

"None of this stuff on defense moves without them," safety Eric Berry said of the guys up front. "Everything is started up there. Their intensity, their work ethic—the things they bring to the table. We feed off of them.

"This is the time of the year where they've been stepping up and we're going to need them to do that again this week."


One statistic that can be directly associated with the guys up front is the ability to shut down an offense in short-yardage situations.

On third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 situations this season, the Chiefs defense has allowed conversions just 44.4 percent of the time, which is the best mark in the NFL, and they're the only team that has allowed less than 50 percent conversions on those plays.

To go even further, they have had 22 rushing attempts in those situations and only nine have been converted, which is a 41 percent rate and also the best mark in the league.

When teams need to go 36 inches or less to pick up a first down, the guys up front for the Chiefs have simply not allowed that to happen very often.

"It goes how we go, that's how we feel," Bailey said of the group's mindset. "We've got to set the tempo, no matter if it's rusher the passer or stopping the run."

"It's not a secret," Dontari Poe said. "Football starts at the lines—O-line and D-line. We just put pressure on ourselves to come out and set the tone."

The relationship between the defensive linemen and the guys behind them couldn't be better illustrated than that of DeVito and Johnson and everything they've been through over the past year and a half.

Both players were lost for the 2014 season with Achilles injuries suffered in the Week 1 game against the Tennessee Titans, and they spent the entire offseason rehabbing together.

Their fight to get back to the field together has been well documented, and last Saturday against the Houston Texans, the Chiefs equipment staff made sure to put DeVito and Johnson's lockers next to each other.

This isn't normal as players are normally situated with their positional group, but this was a special circumstance and one that meant something after the game when they both returned victorious after the 30-0 shutout of the Texans.

"There's nothing they can put in front of us that we couldn't conquer," DeVito said. "We've been through that together. We were always close, but now he's closer than a brother.

"And so I love him for it, and I know that when you go out there you want to play that much harder, because I know I've got my brother behind me, and I want to make sure he's doing well."

This band of brothers have a challenge to face on Saturday in the Patriots, but it's not like this team hasn't had to overcome challenges before.

And once again, it starts up front.

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