ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The stat sheet shows the Kansas City Chiefs scored just 17 points and registered only 278 yards Sunday against the Buffalo Bills and those seemingly dubious achievements are usually hardly worth celebrating.
As stats sometimes can be, those numbers are misleading. The Chiefs actually climbed a mountain in beating the Bills 17-13 at Ralph Wilson Stadium. They smashed through a barrier by rallying to win for the first time after trailing by double digits since Andy Reid arrived as coach and Alex Smith as quarterback last year.
The Bills beat up the Chiefs for the first three quarters in building a 13-3 lead. They sacked Smith six times.
But the Chiefs kept after it and were rewarded for their persistence. They scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and the feeling in their locker room afterward was, if they could do that against one of the better defensive opponents they will face, why not the next time they face similar circumstances? And the time after that?
“There were some things we had to overcome,’’ guard Mike McGlynn said. “We can definitely draw on this experience. We’ll never feel like we’re out of a game now. We’ll always feel like we can come back after this.’’
Indeed, after the Chiefs rallied for their sixth win in seven games, the possibilities seem endless. After beginning the season by losing two games, the Chiefs are 6-3 and realistically thinking good thoughts about what’s ahead.
“There’s something to winning these types of games,’’ Smith said. “You’re not going to play games where you’re always going to have success and things are always going well. I thought our guys handled it well. We came in at halftime and there wasn’t any panic. We all knew we were one play away from changing the game.
“Sometimes they’re like that. I think these wins are different, for sure. It’s a different kind of confidence you get when you win games like this.’’
The Chiefs won by finding some offense where it previously didn’t exist. The play that pulled them back into the game came on a fourth down and one from the Buffalo 39 early in the fourth quarter.
Reid called a pitch to Jamaal Charles, a play he had been saving for just such a situation. Charles easily got to the corner against an aggressive defense bunched in the middle of the field and then just outran the Bills to the end zone.
“It was the perfect play against that defense,’’ McGlynn said.
The game-winning touchdown was scored by Smith, who took another hit as he crossed the goal line on an 8-yard run midway through the final period. It was another play that took advantage of the Bills’ aggressiveness.
“(Reid) called it (because) of the way they were playing us,’’ Smith said. “We got the good look. The end bit on (the fake) to Jamaal.’’
The Chiefs didn’t do everything right in the final period. Rookie De’Anthony Thomas unwisely decided to return a punt from the 2-yard line and saddled the Chiefs with lousy starting field position when they trailed 13-10.
The Chiefs ran three plays and punted, but the Bills fumbled the return and the Chiefs recovered. That led to Smith’s touchdown.
So good fortune was certainly involved. But the Chiefs made their share of breaks as well, and on Sunday that was the most meaningful statistic of all.