Plays that defined the season: No. 1

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Here I’m going to start a look back at 10 plays that defined the season for the Kansas City Chiefs. These will go in chronological order, not order of importance. I will count down one each day until the end.

The first one came in the Sept. 8 season opener against the Jaguars in Jacksonville. The Chiefs trailed 2-0 in the first quarter but were on the move with a second-and-6 from the Jacksonville 20.

The Chiefs split their running back, Jamaal Charles, wide to the right. The confused Jaguars pointed to Charles and made some indecisive moves before a linebacker, Geno Hayes, trotted out to cover Charles.

Charles ran a simple slant against the slower Hayes for a 15-yard gain. The Chiefs scored their first touchdown of the season on the next play and eventually won the game 28-2.

The play served notice the Chiefs would no longer be content to use Charles just as a running back but as a receiver as well. As the season progressed, the Chiefs would continue to get the ball to Charles in the open field and continue to find ways to get him in a favorable matchup where he was covered by a linebacker.

Charles was a consistent threat as a receiver but never more than in the Chiefs’ 56-31 win over the Raiders in Oakland on Dec. 15. Charles that day caught eight passes for 195 yards and four touchdowns.

Three of those touchdowns came after the Chiefs got the ball to Charles in the open field on screen passes. The other happened when they successfully matched Charles with a linebacker in coverage.

Charles would finish the regular season with career highs in receptions (70), receiving yards (693) and receiving touchdowns (7). He led the Chiefs in all of those categories.

Even with Charles, the Chiefs were only tied for 24th in the league in passing yardage. Without his emergence as a receiver, their passing game might have been lost.