KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs seemed so determined to break one of the most bizarre streaks of this NFL season last Sunday that they pulled off an audacious field-goal fake to help them out.
The fake worked to perfection. It still didn’t do any good.
After getting a fresh set of downs and Jamaal Charles was stuffed for a 2-yard gain, Alex Smith threw a pass to Dwayne Bowe in the end zone.
At the last moment, Steelers cornerback Antwon Blake knocked the ball from the wide receiver’s grasp.
Smith wound up getting sacked on third down. The Chiefs had to kick a field goal anyway. And another series ended without a wide receiver catching a touchdown pass.
“It was a bang-bang play that I could have caught,” Bowe said later. “Their guy made a good play on the ball but I could have had it.”
Bowe once caught 15 touchdown passes in a single season. He’d give just about anything for one right now.
That’s because the Chiefs head into Sunday’s regular-season finale against AFC West rival San Diego without a single wide receiver having caught a touchdown pass.
That has never happened before in a 16-game season.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid has continually discounted the dubious streak, pointing out that Smith has still thrown 18 touchdown passes.
Who cares if they have mostly gone to tight end Travis Kelce or running back Charles? The whole point is to score, regardless of how it happens.
The Chiefs, after all, are still in the middle of the pack in points this season.
“We’re all about wins,” said wide receiver Jason Avant, who joined the team midway through the season. “Stats really don’t matter in this league. We really don’t care about that.”
Especially this week.
To reach the playoffs for the second straight year, the Chiefs need to beat the Chargers and hope Cleveland can beat Baltimore and Jacksonville can upset Houston, a pair of games that will be transpiring at the same time things are unfolding at Arrowhead Stadium.
In other words, the Chiefs need a lot of help. But they insisted Tuesday that they are only focused on what they can control, and that’s beating the Chargers.
“We don’t necessarily control our own destiny, and the whole ‘what-ifs’ and ‘what do we need to have happen,’ it’s easy to get distracted,” Smith said. “The thing will be to focus in on the Chargers, a division game, them coming in, and we need to take care of our business.”
That would be easier to do if a wide receiver caught a touchdown pass or two.
The fewest touchdown catches by a group of wide receivers in a 16-game season is two, set by the 1981 Saints and matched by the 2004 Giants. Neither of those teams went to the playoffs.
In fact, the most recent team to go an entire season without a wide receiver catching a touchdown pass was the 1964 Giants, who went 2-10-2, according to STATS LLC. But that distinction is a bit fuzzy because Frank Gifford, listed some places as a flanker, caught three touchdown passes.
Delving further into history yields other teams, including the ’60 Redskins and ’50 Steelers, who didn’t have a “wide receiver” catch a TD pass. But they did have “ends” catch TD passes.
So set aside history for a moment. Perhaps a better way to put into perspective just how crazy the Chiefs’ streak is would be to consider this season.
The Cowboys’ Dez Bryant has 14 touchdown catches. And of the 15 players with at least 10 TD catches, 11 of them play wide receiver, including rookies Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr.
“Our goal is to win games,” Avant said. “You want to score touchdowns selfishly, but you put your selfishness behind when you become part of a team.”
Notes: TE Anthony Fasano (bruised knee), OG Zach Fulton (strained foot) and Bowe (shoulder strain) did not participate in practice Tuesday. … The Chiefs will practice Wednesday before taking Thursday off for Christmas. They will conclude their game preparations Friday.
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