K.C. vets savor return to playoffs

No sacks Sunday: Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, tackling Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, will sit out the wild-card game with a thumb injury.

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No sacks Sunday: Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, tackling Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, will sit out the wild-card game with a thumb injury.

Wild Card Division Round AFC title

Super Bowl XLVIII

Feb. 2, 6:30 p.m.,

MetLife Stadium, E. Rutherford, N.J.

TV: Ch. 13

NFC title Division Round Wild Card
at 3. Bengals (11-5) at 3. Eagles (10-6)
1:05 Sunday, Ch. 10 Chargers, Colts or Chiefs Saints, Packers or 49ers 8:10 Saturday, Ch. 8
6. Chargers (9-7) 4:40 Jan. 12, Ch. 10 4:35 Jan. 11 , Ch. 13 6. Saints (11-5)
at 1. Broncos (13-3) 3

Jan. 19

Ch. 10


Jan. 19

Ch. 13

at 1. Seahawks (13-3)
at 2. Patriots (12-4) at 2. Panthers (12-4)
at 4. Colts (11-5) 8:15 Jan. 11, Ch. 10 1:05 Jan. 12, Ch. 13 at 4. Packers (8-7-1)
4:30 Saturday, Ch. 8 Bengals, Colts or Chiefs Eagles, Packers or 49ers 4:40 Sunday, Ch. 13
5. Chiefs (11-5) 5. 49ers (12-4)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There are only seven players left on the Chiefs roster who have been with them since 2008. Since then, there have been four coaches, two 2-14 seasons, linebacker Jovan Belcher's suicide and a fan revolt.

Yet for Jamaal Charles, Brandon Flowers and the rest, all of those years of disappointment have been worth it now that Kansas City is back in the playoffs.

"The last couple years, we've been through all kinds of situations. It opens your eyes a lot," said Charles, a Pro Bowl running back. "You see so many people work hard. We deserve this."

LB Derrick Johnson and P Dustin Colquitt were drafted in 2005, so they're actually on their fifth coach: Dick Vermeil, Herm Edwards, Todd Haley, Romeo Crennel and now Andy Reid. LB Tamba Hali is the only player left from the 2006 draft class, which means three played in the wild-card loss to the Colts.

WR Dwayne Bowe is the only player left from the 2007 draft. In a span of six seasons, those four went 29-67.

But things began to turn around when Flowers, Charles and LT Branden Albert were drafted in 2008. They went 2-14 their first season and 4-12 the next but 10-6 before losing a wild-card game to Baltimore in 2010.

At that point, the seven figured only good days were ahead.

"Every day that goes by we have to cherish because next year could be totally different," said Flowers, a Pro Bowl cornerback. "I experienced that."

The Chiefs slipped to 7-9 in 2011, when dysfunction in the front office resulted in Crennel replacing the fired Haley in midseason. It blossomed into fissures last season, when Kansas City won just twice. Late in the season, planes towed banners paid for by fans pleading for GM Scott Pioli to be fired.

They got their wish as Crennel and Pioli were out, and Reid was hired with GM John Dorsey. They overhauled the roster and, perhaps more important, altered the psyche of the team.

The result was a 9-0 start, winning record and playoff berth.

One that feels good to those who have been around the block.

"We all have a bond; not just us guys that have been here, but also the guys that are new," Albert said.

"We all have a common goal to get wins around here."

More Chiefs: Bowe, who sustained a concussion in Week 16, was cleared to practice. But he still must pass league-mandated tests in order to play Saturday. Also, Hali sat out practice with a knee injury that sidelined him Sunday. His status hasn't been determined. And LB James-Michael Johnson went on injured reserve with a sprained ankle. Johnson, normally a reserve and special teams player, was hurt Sunday against the Chargers, when he received extended playing time as the Chiefs rested most of their starters.

Bengals: The team changed punters, waiving Shawn Powell after only two games and signing Zoltan Mesko. Powell was signed after Kevin Huber suffered a broken jaw Dec. 15 against Pittsburgh. Powell shanked a 10-yarder Sunday against the Ravens. Mesko was New England's fifth-round pick in 2010. He was released Aug. 31, then punted in seven games for Pittsburgh before being waived Oct. 29.

Eagles: If the Cowboys' Kyle Orton, starting his first game in two years, threw for 358 yards against the Eagles on Sunday, the Saints' Drew Brees could set a record Saturday. Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis said he knows what his unit faces in Brees, who this season threw for more than 5,000 yards for an NFL-record fourth time. "I think the key is to change up the type of coverage. It's more about the quarterback than the actual coverage and what he's looking at and what he sees and how quick he can read it," Davis said. "He's seen every coverage, and he's seen all kinds of different tactics. And then so has (coach Sean Payton), and they have got adjustments to everything. I think constantly kind of shifting it on them is the best way to go about it."

Packers: Linebacker Clay Matthews will sit out Sunday's game because of a broken thumb that has required two surgeries. Matthews, who leads the Packers with 71/2 sacks despite playing only 11 games, first was hurt in Week 5 against the Lions. He missed four games, reinjured it in Week 16 and sat out Sunday against the Bears.

K.C. vets savor return to playoffs 12/31/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 9:50pm]

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