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Mentality of the Chiefs in Late-Game Drives

Posted Sep 28, 2013

Chiefs OC and players describe the team's mindset behind late-game drives

Sunday, and all that it includes, can't get here soon enough. When the parking lots open at 7:30 tomorrow morning, hours of tailgating and pregame activities will take place, leading up to the 12:02 PM CDT kickoff between our Kansas City Chiefs and the visiting New York Giants.

While the Chiefs have been spotlighted for their 3-0 start, as well as jaw-dropping stats, like a plus-nine turnover differential and a league-leading 15 sacks, they also are highly ranked, tied for second in the league, in 'clock-killing' drives.

Clock-killing drives are those beginning with five minutes or less to play in the fourth quarter, with the driving team winning the game, or where the leading team gets possession of the ball, with more than five minutes to play in the game, and eventually milks the clock to 0:00.

Entering Week 4, the Chiefs have four clock-killing drives, two serving as game-ending drives. The average amount of time the Chiefs left on the clock for the opposition to attempt a comeback is :33 seconds.

Crucial, late-game drives are often needed to succeed in the NFL,.

Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson addressed the media this week and spoke to the team's ability to 'put away' ball games.

"It’s something, where we attack that aspect of the game at training camp," Pederson said. "Four-minute is where you can finish the game and win it for your team. We put a lot of emphasis in that area. The guys have done a great job in two out of the three games and we’re going to continue to emphasize it. It’s a mentality, it’s like short-yardage and goal-line, you just have to roll your sleeves up and go to work and get the job done.”

While not technically a clock-killing drive, because there were more than five minutes on the game clock, one of the Chiefs most-impressive drives, occurred in the fourth quarter of their Week 3 win in Philadelphia, showcasing the type of moxie needed to succeed in close-game situations.

Leading the Eagles 23-16, with 10:10 left on the fourth-quarter clock, the Chiefs faced a 3rd and 10 from their own five-yard line, before Chiefs QB Alex Smith found WR Donnie Avery for 15 yards to move the chains.

“We knew that was a big drive," Smith said. "Our defense had been on the field a lot before that. We hadn’t done much with the ball the last few series before that and knew we needed to change some field position; we needed to eat up some clock. We needed to give our defense a rest. It was a big play in the game; I thought Donnie made a great catch, a great job coming back to the ball.”

Avery relived the moment, while addressing the media this week.

“Andy Reid called the right play, at the right time, with the coverage and we just had to capitalize on it," Avery said. "I just thought to myself, make sure you make the third-down catch and get up the field and try to get the first down."

The very next play went to Chiefs TE Sean McGrath, who described the team's entire mentality during crucial late-game drives.

"When it comes down to crunch time, our offense knows we’re going to get those punch drives," McGrath said. "Execute under pressure and punch it down the field and eat up the clock.”

One of the guys helping milk the game clock has been Chiefs Pro Bowl RB Jamaal Charles, who described his mindset during crucial, fourth-quarter drives.

"My job is to go out and try to help my team," Charles said. "When they need me, I can go out and run the ball. I'm a natural-born runner and have been doing it my whole life; so, when it's my time to run the ball, I have to go out there and try to make a first down for my team to move the chains."

Alex Smith assessed the late pushes by the Chiefs offense, leading to eventual victories.

"The last two weeks, all those guys up-front really embraced the moment at the end of the game," Smith said. "I thought they did the same thing out there (last Thursday) and, instead of shying away from it, took it head on; Jamaal included, as he ran extremely hard and really sealed that game away.”

The crucial scoring drive lasted 8:15, covering 75 yards in 15 plays, capped by Chiefs K Ryan Succop's 38-yard FG, pushing his team's lead to 10, before the eventual 26-16 win.

So, while the Chiefs coaches, players and fans are hoping that we're so far ahead on Sunday, not needing a late-game drive, should it happen, Andy Reid's team can be confident, knowing it has been there and done that, in victorious fashion.

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