After their 23-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid praised the young playmakers for their performance.
"Alex [Smith] had a nice day with the minions, all those little guys running around out there," he said. "Those guys made plays."
He's obviously talking about the young trio of second-year running back Charcandrick West, second-year receiver Albert Wilson and rookie receiver Chris Conley.
Those three stepped up when they were needed the most.
West carried the ball 22 times for 110 yards and 1 touchdown—the first of his career, while Wilson and Conley combined for 13 receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown.
West dazzled in the absence of the Chiefs all-time leading rusher, Jamaal Charles, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. Charles was also one of the first people to send a congratulatory text to West after he carried the load for the offense on Sunday, which wasn't something that surprised Reid.
"We've known what he can do, it was just a matter of getting enough opportunities," Reid said after the game of West. "I mentioned that after last game that he needed a few more opportunities. He got those today and you saw what he did with it.
"He protected the football, which was important coming off of last week's game, but I think he'll sleep good tonight."
West got stronger as the game went on, carrying the ball 7 times for just 26 yards in the first half but taking his 15 carries in the second half for 84 yards.
"He was tired after the game," Reid said of West, "but he kept pushing through that fourth quarter and that was definitely a positive."
West said he's continuing to lean on the leadership of Charles, who might not be on the field with them but is still finding ways to help the guys taking his place.
"Jamaal [Charles] told us last week that we've got to write down on a piece of paper what we're going to do," West noted. "I wrote 100 yards and a touchdown—and I got it."
There's a good chance West writes down another big number next week before the game against the Detroit Lions over in London, but he's giving the credit to the guys up front.
"With how the offensive line was blocking today, anybody could have gotten back there and ran," West said. "They did a great job, I'm just thankful to be here."
It was West's 1-yard touchdown run on third-and-goal in the third quarter that gave the Chiefs the 16-3 lead and really broke the game open.
It was his first career touchdown.
"I haven't come down yet," West said in the locker room after the game. "I'm still in the end zone in my books. That's a great feeling—to score an NFL touchdown, it's already hard to get in the end zone, but for me to score my first one here with my guys, it's a blessing."
Conley, who had caught just 7 passes for 91 yards in the previous six games' combined, finished with 6 catches for 63 yards and a touchdown in helping overcome the loss of veteran Jeremy Maclin, who was ruled inactive shortly before the game.
"We actually found out 10 minutes before we went out to start warming up for the game," Conley said of Maclin's absence from Sunday's game. "It was a shift in mindset, going from playing a lot of special teams to playing mostly offense today."
Conley made the most of the time.
It was his 6-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that ultimately sealed the win for the Chiefs.
"It was a great play call by coach Reid," Conley said after the game. "He knew exactly what the defense was going to be doing. We had off-coverage inside. Alex [Smith] knew that and gave me a great ball where I could catch it and turn up to get into the end zone.
"Great game planning and great execution."
After dropping a couple of passes last week, Conley felt good about his opportunity on Sunday.
"It feels great," Conley said. "Shaky week last week for me. For the team to come out and for Alex [Smith] to still believe in me and give me those opportunities today speaks volumes of his trust."
Photos from the Chiefs week seven matchup against the Steelers
Thirdly, receiver Albert Wilson, who for the second week in a row broke off a reception of at least 40 yards in a big situation for the Chiefs offense, stepped up on Sunday.
He finished the game with 3 receptions for 71 yards, but it was his 40-yarder that really got the crowd back into the game.
Late in the first half on first-and-10 from midfield with the Chiefs leading 6-3, Wilson took the pass from Smith on the outside, spun through three attempted tackles and raced 40 yards down the field to put the Chiefs in scoring position.
It was the longest play of the game for the Chiefs offense.
Overall, these young players stood tall when they were needed the most.
The absence of Maclin and Charles provided another opportunity for them to gain the trust of their teammates—something Reid believed they accomplished.
"I think it's a confidence builder for them," Reid said. "It's also a confidence builder for those guys around them that are working hard. To know that you've got guys that can make plays around you, I think adds up in a lot of different ways.
"Most of all, though, it's great for those kids. I mean, those are young kids making plays."