KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The situation was loaded with danger for the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night when they took possession at their 25 with 47 seconds left in a tied game against Washington. A turnover would almost certainly mean defeat, and indeed the Chiefs two years ago lost a game under almost identical circumstances on a fumble returned for a touchdown in the final seconds by the Denver Broncos.
This year, though, driving for the winning score seems almost like a sure thing for the Chiefs. They've been remarkably efficient in the fourth quarter and Monday night was no different. The Chiefs went 50 yards in 43 seconds, the winning points coming on Harrison Butker's 43-yard field goal.
The Chiefs would go on to score a defensive touchdown on the final play from scrimmage to make the final score 29-20.
The final offensive drive is another in a series of fourth-quarter heroics from the Chiefs. Kansas City has taken possession 13 times in the fourth quarter this season -- not counting a final kill-the-clock possession in the opener against the Patriots -- and has scored eight times. That includes six touchdowns and two field goals. The Chiefs were 2-for-2 in the final period against Washington, both scores coming on field goals.
The Chiefs lead the NFL with 54 points in the fourth quarter. The Eagles are next best with 41.
"We practice a lot at situational football," said quarterback Alex Smith, who was 6-of-8 for 73 yards during the two fourth-quarter possessions Monday night. "On offense, sometimes you have a drive to finish off a game and sometimes you've got to go get the points to win one. We've spent a lot of time in all those situations practicing them.
"So I think time on task is the biggest thing. We've spent a lot of time working on that stuff. I think the results have paid off for us thus far."
The smallest margin of victory for the 4-0 Chiefs is seven points, so it's easy to forget Kansas City has trailed or been tied in the final period in three of the games.
The Chiefs wouldn't be the NFL's last remaining unbeaten team without some big offensive fourth quarters. Smith is the NFL's third-rated passer in the final period with 321 yards and two touchdowns.
Rookie running back Kareem Hunt has been the Chiefs' other offensive star late in games. He has four of their six fourth-quarter touchdowns.
But the Chiefs have been getting plenty of help from role players as well. Charcandrick West scored the final touchdown against the Patriots. Chris Conley caught a 35-yard pass to set up Hunt's clinching touchdown against the Eagles.
Monday night's unexpected fourth-quarter star was Albert Wilson. On the second play of the drive that led to Butker's field goal, Smith was forced by defensive pressure to scramble to his right. He threw on the run to Wilson, who bobbled the ball momentarily but pulled it in for a 37-yard gain.
"Just trying to see it, make a good decision," Smith said. "Earlier I had a really similar scramble. I was coming up to the right and everybody was turning and running and I had backs to me and had a big run. I just try to play that game sometimes when I get out to the edge.
"I felt that time around I got some attention on me and Albert was able to hit the seam there. It's tough [because] there are a lot of times you look back on scrambles and guys are open. It's hard to see the whole field when you're moving fast and the game gets sped up a little bit on the edge. You just try to have your eyes up and make the best decision there. It's a little bit of a run-pass option."