Tamba Hali—Making the Difference Both On the Field and Off

Hali’s multiple-sack effort on Sunday made franchise history

Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali stood at his locker to address the media after Kansas City's 33-3 throttling of the San Diego Chargers.

His 2 sacks of quarterback Philip Rivers—both in the third quarter—had given him a total of 85.0 for his career, placing him in the top 10 among active players and in the top 50 among all those in NFL history. The multiple-sack effort, the 20th of his career, was good to pass Neil Smith (19), achieving second place in Chiefs franchise history.

But if you have ever heard an interview with Hali, you already know how he responded when asked about those individual feats.

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"It does feel good to know that," he said, "but I don't want to take attention away from what we're doing here as a team."

The team, and more specifically, his defense, is in the midst of a dominating stretch. After allowing 26.5 points per game in their first six games, the Chiefs are allowing just 9.75 points a game in their last four, all victories.

Hali explained that he believes where the difference lies is the manner in which the Chiefs are hitting the field.

"We come out and we play fast and we play early," he said. "We treat it like practice. Practice, we're out there long, so at practice, [head coach Andy Reid] forces us to go fast and get our job done early. We don't like playing from behind.

"We want to set the tone now and I think that's changed in the last three weeks and we've been playing good defense, taking the ball away."

Over their last 240 minutes of football, the Chiefs have a plus-12 turnover differential and have trailed for just 5 minutes and 2 seconds. That was in London, where the Lions led 3-0 early in the first quarter.

Kansas City took the lead back in that game with 38 unanswered points.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, who inherited Hali when he took over the team in 2013, feels that his approach to the game has remained unchanged since then.

"Tamba brings great energy to the defense, always has," he said. "This is before I was here. That's just him by nature. He's an extremely hard worker … but like I said, we're not done. He's not done. He works his fundamentals. Every day he works it along with Justin [Houston] and Dee Ford and the other outside backers.

"They constantly are working hands and feel and how can they get themselves better. It's kind of fun to watch. They challenge each other and Tamba leads that being the veteran of the group, so we appreciate Tamba."

A look at some of the highlights of the career of Tamba Hali

Recently, during the losing streak, it occurred to Hali that the defense hadn't been getting together off the field as much as they had been in previous years.

Hali, as a team leader, realized this needed to change, and he began organizing team dinners, suggesting a way for teammates to get to know one another without discussing football.

"The NFL is not for long," he explained recently on HyVee Chiefs Insider. "This team is not going to be what it is next year, so the team that's here now, you have to find a way for the chemistry to work with one another. You have to like each other and accept your role as a player."

Reid appreciates what those off-the-field hangouts have done for the team.

"Tamba's a very loyal guy and very team-oriented, which you don't always find on every team with your big-name players," he said. "In his case, we're the defensive front and we know where it starts and we've got to take care of business and let's do everything possible to make ourselves the best and make sure we stick together.

"That part of sticking together comes with those dinners and he's very good with that kind of stuff."

On the field and off the field, the Chiefs are fortunate to have a player and person like Hali.

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