KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The official line from the Kansas City Chiefs was they were just trying to win another game, but they weren’t fooling anyone. Measuring sticks come in different sizes, and they don’t come much bigger than the challenge offered Sunday by the Seattle Seahawks, the defending Super Bowl champions.
"It was a little bit of a see-where-you’re-at," Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. "We as a group, collectively, kind of answered that a little bit."
The answer the Chiefs provided should resonate around the AFC West and perhaps the league as a whole. They have to be taken seriously now after defeating the Seahawks 24-20 at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs lost the turnover battle, and going minus-2 in that department should, in and of itself, mean doom for a team that gets precious few big offensive plays. They also had trouble getting a handle on a Seattle running game that between Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson alone generated almost 200 yards.
Otherwise, the Chiefs did what they've done throughout their five-game winning streak. They rushed for almost 200 yards themselves. They scored touchdowns on three of their four trips inside the Seattle 20.
Most importantly, their underrated defense shut down the Seahawks in the fourth quarter. Seattle failed to convert on any of its three fourth-down plays in the final period, including a Lynch rushing attempt that gained nothing when the Seahawks needed just a few inches.
In other words, the Chiefs just played their game.
"We talked about it all week," Smith said. "The two things we talked about [were being] physical and [playing] four quarters. It was going to be a four-quarter game, and we knew that. You never know how they're going to come [or] who's going to get called upon."
The Chiefs called on all phases of their game in the fourth quarter. They won the period with a 47-yard run by Jamaal Charles to set up the go-ahead touchdown, their defensive stops and a great effort by Junior Hemingway and Albert Wilson to down a punt at the Seattle 4.
After beginning the season with a pair of defeats, the Chiefs have climbed to 7-3 and into a tie for first place in the AFC West with the Denver Broncos. Such a thought seemed improbable two months ago, but it's more than likely the Chiefs will play the Broncos at Arrowhead on Nov. 30 with first place on the line.
"We aren't going to think a whole lot about it until it's all said and done," coach Andy Reid said.
That's how the Chiefs have revived their season, by concentrating on the task at hand and not worrying about the bigger picture.
But, try as they might not to be scoreboard watchers, they couldn't help themselves when it came to Sunday's game between the Broncos and St. Louis Rams. They could only ignore that result, a 22-7 Denver defeat, for so long.
"Obviously, when it became final there at the end, you saw it," Smith said.
The Chiefs permitted themselves that brief glimpse at something outside their control, then got back to work in finishing off the Seahawks.
In doing so, the Chiefs made a statement that was impossible to misinterpret: They're in this thing for the long haul.