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Marcus Peters strengthened his case for Chiefs MVP without playing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Even before Sunday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a strong case could be made that cornerback Marcus Peters was the Kansas City Chiefs' most valuable player. Peters, with five interceptions and three fumble recoveries, was a leader in turnovers on a team that lived off them.

Then Peters missed the first game of his NFL career because of a hip pointer, and his case got even stronger because the Chiefs fell apart without him against the Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 331 yards. Only Drew Brees of the Saints threw for more against the Chiefs this season. On third downs, Winston was 12-of-14 for 133 yards and a touchdown with a near-perfect QBR of 99.8.

The Chiefs went without an interception, despite 39 Winston passes, for the first time in six games. They dropped a couple. Nobody knows whether Peters would have been in position to make those interceptions, but we do know that with his ability to adjust to the ball in flight he wouldn’t have dropped them.

Peters missed all week of practice and wasn’t a serious consideration to play on Sunday.

“His hip is just killing him," coach Andy Reid said. “It’s hard to sleep with those. He got a good one. For him not to play, he tried his heart out to be there, and I just sent him home to just get off his leg and get that thing better. Let’s just start back up (Monday) with the rehab and going with it. Those are painful things.”

Minus Peters, the Chiefs went with Steven Nelson and Kenneth Acker at cornerback with Phillip Gaines as the third corner. Nelson broke up what would have been a Mike Evans touchdown catch in the end zone, but otherwise no one distinguished himself.

“It’s hard to say that you’re counting on just one guy," Reid said. “It’s a team sport. He’s made some great plays for us, but listen, everybody else needs to step up, including myself and the rest of the coaches. It’s a team effort here. We can all do our jobs better.”

The Chiefs were required to cover for long periods of time on many of Winston’s passes because the pass rush generated little in the way of consistent pressure.

A more consistent rush will help the Chiefs in Sunday night’s game against the Broncos in Denver, and in future contests. But the return of their MVP will help even more.