Tyreek Hill becoming valuable asset for Chiefs’ playoff hopes

The complaints and concerns about Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill suddenly have been replaced by chants and cheers. The same fans who once despised his mere presence are now fighting to be heard over those who swoon over every move he makes. Basically, Hill is yet one more example of how quickly life can change in the NFL if you produce. He’s done his part to prove he can be a good citizen off the field and his team is now in first place because of what he’s done on it.

Kansas City Chiefs Jersey Wholesale

The Chiefs’ 21-13 win over the Oakland Raiders will be remembered as the game that put Kansas City in the driver’s seat to win the AFC West. Both teams now hold 10-3 records but the Chiefs own all tiebreakers after having beaten the Raiders twice this season. What the contest also did was serve as a national coming-out party for one of the most dynamic rookies in the league. If Hill hadn’t been playing, the Chiefs probably don’t win this game.

Hill scored the game’s first touchdown by catching a 36-yard pass from quarterback Alex Smith in the second quarter. He also gave the Chiefs a 21-3 lead a few minutes later with a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown. None of this, by the way, is anything new to people who’ve followed this team or even a surprise to Hill. As he said after Thursdays game, “I put the work in during the offseason. I guess it’s all falling into place.”

Jeremy Maclin Jersey China

Most of the work Hill put in before this season involved rehabilitating his tainted image. He was easily the most controversial player drafted by the Chiefs during the tenure of coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey, largely because of a domestic violence conviction that resulted in his dismissal from Oklahoma State. When Kansas City selected Hill in the fifth round of this year’s draft (he finished his career at West Alabama), there were plenty of people who bashed the pick as insensitive for one main reason: This was the same franchise that watched former linebacker Jovan Belcher kill his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, and then himself during the 2012 season.

The criticism then was that Reid and Dorsey cared too much about physical ability instead of ethics. The reality is they felt comfortable enough with Hill to give him a second chance, and he’s made good on their faith so far. The Chiefs knew Hill could impact their return game because he ran a 4.29-second 40-yard dash at his pro day. What’s been more startling is how quickly he’s changed the complexion of their offense.

Authentic Demarcus Robinson Jersey

This unit used to be known mainly as one built around conservatism: Reid called games with an eye toward controlling tempo while Smith managed the action with a reluctance to take chances. Now the 5-foot-10, 185-pound athlete is being asked to out-jump defensive backs for acrobatic catches. He’s also becoming a fearless runner on reverses and a dangerous deep threat that puts even more pressure on opposing secondaries. Let’s also not forget about his success as a return man, as Thursday’s score marked the second time in the last three games that he produced a return for a touchdown (he had an 86-yard kick return against Denver in a win that also saw him add a receiving and rushing touchdown).

When Derek Carr’s MVP campaign ultimately falls short, he can point to his two back-breaking performances versus his division rival. The prediction in Kansas City this week, per NFL Network’s James Palmer, was that Carr’s fractured pinky finger would be stiff and painful in the elements. That certainly seemed to be the case, even if Carr downplayed the notion after the game. He took all of his snaps from the shotgun formation, misfired on basic throws, failed to generate his usual velocity on a few deeper passes and showed a disturbing penchant for dumping off short of the sticks on third downs. Carr finished the night averaging a minuscule 2.85 yards on 41 attempts, the second-lowest figure in the Super Bowl era by a quarterback with 40 or more throws.

De’Anthony ThomasĀ Elite Jersey

Speaking of playmakers, it took Jeremy Maclin’s groin injury for the Chiefs to feature Travis Kelce as the centerpiece of their passing game. Essentially Rob Gronkowski-lite as the NFL’s premier run-after-catch threat at tight end, Kelce joined Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham as the only players at the position to reach the 100-yard mark in four consecutive games.

Kansas City’s defense is developing a reputation as an MVP killer. After safety Eric Berry turned two Matt Ryan interceptions into a game-changing nine points last week, he and his cohorts comprehensively stifled Carr’s aerial attack. The Raiders had a prime opportunity to steal the victory with three takeaways in their opponent’s territory, only to manage just six points and a scant 14 yards on those possessions. It’s worth noting that Kansas City’s defense and special teams entered the night accounting for 49.5 percent of the team’s points this season. That’s a higher mark than the 1985 Bears (42.1), 2000 Ravens (46.5), 2002 Buccaneers (48.6) and 2015 Broncos (45.9) — regarded as the greatest defenses of the past four decades.

Albert Wilson Game Jersey

Nike Texans #90 Jadeveon Clowney Black Men's Stitched NFL Impact Limited JerseyOn a more disappointing note, leading tackler Derrick Johnson ruptured his Achilles tendon for the second time in three years. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Johnson has been one of the league’s premier inside linebackers for the past half-decade.

Defensive Player of the Year candidate Khalil Mack’s strip of Smith gave him a sack for an eighth consecutive game — the longest active streak in the league and tied for longest in Raiders history. Over the last six games, Mack has terrorized opposing offensive lines for eight sacks, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, a touchdown and an interception. As transcendent as Mack has been of late, the rest of the defense looms as a stumbling block in the postseason. The Raiders entered the game allowing 6.2 yards per play, not just the most generous figure in the league but also the highest in franchise history. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a system quarterback like Smith sliced and diced this secondary in his most aggressive performance of the season.

Cowboys, Chiefs named 2017 Pro Bowl coaching staffs

The Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs went one-and-done in the postseason, but their coaching staffs still have one more game left on the schedule.

Kansas City Chiefs Jersey Cheap

Jason Garrett and Andy Reid will be heading the two coaching staffs participating in the 2017 Pro Bowl from Camping World Stadium in Orlando at 8 p.m. ET on Jan. 29.

This year’s edition of the Pro Bowl will be the first to be played in Orlando and will also revert to the traditional AFC vs. NFC format following three years using a revised, “unconferenced” structure. Reid’s staff and Garrett’s staff will coach the AFC and NFC, respectively.

Each conference will also be represented by two Legends Captains — one offensive and one defensive. The AFC will be led by former AFC Central/North foes Jerome Bettis and Ray Lewis, while tight-end great Tony Gonzalez and recently-retired Charles Woodson will captain the NFC.

Wholesale Kansas City Chiefs Jersey

Pittsburgh’s unsung offensive line deserves a lion’s share of the credit, opening holes for Bell and shutting down Kansas City’s edge rushing trio of Justin Houston, Dee Ford and Tamba Hali. Rarely pressured throughout the game, Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t hit until a third-down coverage sack forced a field goal with 10 minutes remaining.

Nearly 39 years old, Steelers linebacker James Harrison was the dominant defensive force for the second consecutive game. Harrison recorded three tackles for loss, two QB hits and one sack, but his most crucial effort was forcing a holding penalty on left tackle Eric Fisher to nullify the game-tying two-point conversion with less than three minutes remaining. Harrison is now up to 11 career postseason sacks, tying for the fifth-most since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

Travis Kelce Jersey

The object of season-long derision over missed extra points, the NFL’s legion of kickers can walk proudly in the aftermath of Sunday’s sterling feats. After Mason Crosby and Dan Bailey combined to drill three kicks over 50 yards in the final 98 seconds of the NFC’s Divisional Round matchup, Steelers kicker Chris Boswell set a new single-game postseason record with six field goals. It’s the second time this season Boswell has drilled a half-dozen field goals in one game.

Andy Reid scripted a perfect six-play, 55-yard touchdown drive on the Chiefs’ opening possession, only to watch his offense go in the tank for the next 40 minutes of game action. Kansas City was outgained by Bell alone over the next two and half quarters, managing fewer than 100 yards on the ensuing six series. The Steelers bottled up rookie sensation Tyreek Hill and frustrated Travis Kelce. The All-Pro tight end dropped a long pass in the red zone late in the third quarter and was whistled for a careless unnecessary roughness penalty on the next play. Unable to make plays downfield, Alex Smith’s offense simply couldn’t stand toe-to-toe with Pittsburgh’s firepower.

Eric Berry Jersey Youth

Nike Chiefs #32 Spencer Ware White Men's Stitched NFL Elite JerseyAlthough Peters and All-Pro safety Eric Berry made plays for a ballhawking secondary, the Chiefs defense needs to get stronger in the middle of the field next season. They finished the season 26th in run defense and 24th in total defense, counting on takeaways and red-zone efficiency to mask deficiencies. After two straight exits in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, Reid still needs more playmakers to keep up with the AFC’s superpowers. Getting Jeremy Maclin and Justin Houston fully healthy will certainly help.

The decision to make the time change was made in consultation with state and local officials as well as both teams, the league added.

Alex Smith Game Jersey

On Sunday, the NFL released another statement reaffirming the game’s start time.

Tonight’s Steelers-Chiefs Divisional Playoff game on NBC will move forward as announced at 8:20 p.m. ET. We feel comfortable, after consulting with local and state authorities and both teams, that we can proceed tonight without resulting in any negative impact on public safety resources. We will continue to monitor the weather and urge anyone traveling to the game to use appropriate caution and heed any warnings from local authorities.

In addition, the game will serve as a testing ground, of sorts. The NFL will use the game to determine if Sunday night playoff games make sense for television ratings and for logistics, a source informed of the situation told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. ESPN first reported the development.