• 77°

Chiefs’ Smith could be playing for legacy in playoffs

By DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — There is little disputing Alex Smith has had the best season of his 13-year professional career, whether you want to quantify that claim with individual stats or team success.
He’s set career bests in yards passing and touchdowns. He threw just five interceptions. He led the league in quarterback rating.
And he led the Kansas City Chiefs to the AFC West title, giving the franchise back-to-back division championships for the first time.
All of that success could be forgotten as quickly as Saturday night, though.
That’s when the Chiefs play the Titans in the playoffs.
Kansas City hasn’t won a home playoff game in nearly a quarter century, a maddening drought that Smith can help to end with a victory at Arrowhead Stadium.
And in doing so, Smith would turn what has been a largely successful five-year tenure with the Chiefs into a memorable one, elevating him from a cluster of merely good quarterbacks to an echelon where only Len Dawson currently resides.
“Everybody is good at this point, right? Everybody still left playing is really good,” said Smith, who already snapped the Chiefs’ long postseason winless streak with a victory in Houston two years ago. “The season is on the line, you win or go home. I think that adds to the intensity.”
Especially considering Smith doesn’t know where home will be pretty soon.
The cash-strapped Chiefs could be forced to release Smith and turn the future of the franchise over to first-round pick Patrick Mahomes II next season.
Smith watched his understudy lead the Chiefs to a victory in Denver last weekend, sitting out the regular-season finale with nothing on the line.
So, the playoffs could also serve as Smith’s audition for other teams, a pressure-packed chance to show that the 33-year-old former No. 1 pick is only now reaching his peak.
“The ramifications are so big,” he said, “but it’s still football at the end of the day.”
History suggests that Smith tends to rise to the occasion.
Even though he’s just 2-4 in the playoffs, and 1-3 as the quarterback in Kansas City, the losses have largely come despite his performance.
One of his best statistical games came in a shootout loss in Indianapolis in 2013, when he threw for 378 yards and four touchdowns without a pick, and Smith was relatively efficient in a cold loss to the Steelers that ended last season.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid mostly wrote off the idea of playoff experience helping on Wednesday, but he acknowledged that quarterback may be the one position where it’s at least a little beneficial.
“Alex has been there, done well there,” Reid said. “I can’t tell you we sit there and evaluate that. We have Alex, we build on what he does and kind of go with it.”
One area Smith hasn’t done well: Playing against the Titans.
Few other teams in the NFL have given him fits as Tennessee, which has beaten him three out of four meetings. The past two have been at Arrowhead Stadium, which is supposed to provide the home team — and especially the home quarterback — a distinct advantage.
But he was 19 of 35 for 202 yards with a touchdown and three picks in a September 2014 loss, and just 15 of 28 for 163 yards with a pick and no touchdowns in a December 2016 defeat.
Most of the Titans’ coaches and personnel from that game will be back on Saturday.
“It’s hard to go beyond this last year,” Smith said. “Close game, came down to the end — physical game. But beyond that it’s hard to read too much into those. You learn from that a little bit, but there’s the whole chess game. New players, new schemes. Things like that.”
New stakes, too. That game that Tennessee won on Ryan Succop’s field goal last season was late in the regular season, and this one is the win-or-else wild-card round of the playoffs.
NOTES: The Chiefs put WR De’Anthony Thomas (broken leg) and RB Akeem Hunt (ankle) on injured reserve. They elevated WR Marcus Kemp from the practice squad and signed RB C.J. Spiller, who has been on and off the roster much of the season. … WR Albert Wilson (hamstring), CB Phillip Gaines, DL Jarvis Jenkins (knee) and DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches (ankle) missed Tuesday’s practice.
___
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

Comments

Education

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College creates free course to help parents tackle virtual learning

Business

New unemployment claims down in August, could indicate positive trend for businesses

Crime

Salisbury man faces drug possession charges after overdose call

Crime

Police: Man charged after children call 911 from neighbor’s house

Ask Us

Ask Us: Who are people behind sign at City Park playground?

Coronavirus

Prison in Salisbury latest site of COVID-19 outbreak

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury Man charged with felony assault by strangulation

Nation/World

Trump vows quick Supreme Court vote, Biden urges delay for Nov. 3

Nation/World

New rule may strip pollution protections from popular lakes

East Spencer

East Spencer draws crowd for annual community day

Elections

In Rowan’s legislative races, Howard, Warren get off to strongest start in fundraising

Business

From Navy SEAL to Medicare agent, Trent Waller looks to continue serving his community

Elections

In 13th Congressional District race, Budd, Huffman differ on government’s role in COVID-19 help

Local

Rowan County Telecommunications joins new state digital 911 system

Education

School board will consider scheduling public hearings for Faith, Enochville closures

Business

Biz Roundup: Food Lion makes donation to support racial equality and justice

Elections

Republicans rally supporters at Saturday lunch

Elections

Budd holds wide lead over Huffman in fundraising, cash on hand

Crime

UPDATED: 1 shot, 5 in custody after shooting at haunted house that attracted 1,000 visitors

Nation/World

Trump picks conservative Amy Coney Barrett to fill Supreme Court seat

Coronavirus

Deadly September propels Rowan County to 100 deaths from COVID-19

Crime

Highway Patrol charges man in hit-and-run after finding vehicle hidden in woods

Elections

NC elections board, Republicans at odds over absentee ballot rule changes

News

Voters struggling with witness rules in early voting