“I like winning streaks better,” Reid said lightheartedly to a chorus of laughter during a conference call with the Denver media on Wednesday.
And as the Chiefs recoup from a 41-38 loss to the Chargers in Week 12 and prepare for Sunday’s rematch with the Broncos – a game rife with division and playoff implications – Reid noted that playing through tough stretches is simply an inherent part of football.
“You’ve got to be a tough-minded person to play and coach in the National Football League, to be able to sustain,” he said. “So you work through those things. Very few teams have gone undefeated in the National Football League. I think you guys are very well aware of that.”
Ultimately, weathering the ups and downs of an NFL season – such as Kansas City’s last-minute loss against the Chargers and the Chiefs’ 27-17 setback against the Broncos in Week 11 – and finding ways to improve as a team down the stretch is what Reid circled as being most important.
“You’ve got to be able to handle the wins, you’ve also got to be able to handle the losses and get yourself better and learn from them, number one, and become a better football team,” Reid said.
The first step is another showdown with the Broncos, the teams’ second meeting in two weeks – and this time, at Arrowhead Stadium.
In Denver’s 27-17 win over Kansas City 10 days ago, the Broncos outgained the Chiefs 427-344 and sacked Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith three times. Changing that result, running back Jamaal Charles said, will require that the Chiefs execute in all areas of that game.
“We’ve just got to play a complete game. They’re going to do things that we’ve probably never seen,” Charles said. “They’ll probably give us a different look. We’ve just got to be prepared for whatever they throw at us. It’s going to be a game to fight for our division. I know they’re going to come out playing hard, we’re going to come out playing hard.”
Charles also circled another area for improvement from first game with the Broncos – turnovers. While the Chiefs have forced 24 turnovers this season and hold a plus-11 turnover differential, the best in the NFL, Kansas City forced just one against the Broncos in Week 11 and subsequently committed a turnover in Denver territory.
“Whoever does all the right stuff – at the end of the game, no turnovers,” Charles said. “We can’t turn the ball over like we did in the red zone. We’ve got to move the ball up the field and take time off the clock.”
The Chiefs also entered the Week 11 matchup leading the NFL in sacks, but were unable to register a single hit on Broncos quarterback
“I thought their offensive line did a good job and I thought Peyton got the ball out quick,” Reid said. “So that means his receivers got themselves open. So it was a combination of those three things.”
And as his team looks to apply more pressure on Manning this time around, Reid noted that there is a chance linebacker Tamba Hali – who is second on the team with 9.0 sacks – will play on Sunday after suffering an ankle injury against San Diego.
“He’s feeling better every day, so if he continues to do that then he has a pretty good chance to play,” Reid said. “His desire is great to play, obviously. So we’ll just see how it goes.”
Another player who surely factors into the equation is Charles, who rushed for a season-best 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns – in addition to catching four passes for 42 yards – against the Chargers. Charles’ 1,343 combined yards rank second in the NFL, but ultimately, the only statistic the running back is concerned with lies in the outcomes of games.
“As long as we get wins, that’s all that matters,” Charles said. “These games right here with Peyton – this game matters the most because that’s a playoff team. You want to go out there and play your hardest. They’re coming off a tough loss last week, as well. Hopefully we can get into that and keep it up, move the ball up the field and put some points on the board.”