October 26, 2018 at 8:21 am #17030
Chiefs linebacker Reggie Ragland was in swaddling blankets the previous time Kansas City won a home playoff game.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill was nestled comfortably in the womb.
It was January 1994 [url=http://www.bengalscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-joe-mixon-jersey]Joe Mixon Jersey[/url] , Joe Montana was the quarterback and the Chiefs beat the Steelers on an overtime field goal by Nick Lowery to advance.
And it’s hard to believe anybody packed inside Arrowhead Stadium that day imagined a quarter century would pass without another home playoff win.
”It would be nice to break that,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said, ”but you can’t add any extra motivation once you get to this stage. This is all the work we’ve been putting in as this team from day-one – this team. When we were putting in our goals and talking about that.
”It’s tough to add any more motivation with historic streaks or things like that.”
Besides, the Titans (9-7) are trying to end their own maddening stretch of playoff futility.
Tennessee rumbles into Kansas City for the wild-card round Saturday in its first postseason trip since 2008, when the Titans were the AFC’s top seed.
If they can waltz out with a win, as they did in 2016, it would be their first playoff victory since January 2004.
”It’s playoff time,” Titans safety Kevin Byard said. ”I dream about … matchups, about going up against guys like (Travis) Kelce and going up against Andy Reid, a Hall of Fame-level coach. He’s a great coach. And going into Arrowhead Stadium, one of the louder stadiums, I don’t think there’s better you can ask for in the first week of the playoffs.”
Indeed, there are story lines galore in a game that could be overshadowed by higher-profile matchups, or perhaps overlooked because of the Chiefs’ midseason swoon and the Titans’ late-season slump.
Smith is trying to validate the best season of his career in what could be his final game for the Chiefs (10-6). Hill is hoping to show off his world-class speed on a national stage.
And running back Kareem Hunt, who won the NFL rushing title this season, will have a chance to etch his name alongside the likes of Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell as one of the league’s best.
”If you lose, you go home,” Hunt said simply. ”Everybody is giving their all not to go home.”
On the flip side, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota will try to rewrite the story of an up-and-down season with his playoff debut. Running back Derrick Henry and his supporting cast will help. And embattled coach Mike Mularkey will try to prove he was the right man for the job all along.
”The intensity and everything goes up when you get to this point,” Mularkey said.
As the Titans prepare to visit the Chiefs [url=http://www.bengalscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-jordan-willis-jersey]Jordan Willis Jersey[/url] , here are a few more story lines to watch:
DEEP THREAT: The Chiefs lost kick returner Akeem Hunt to an injury last weekend against Denver, and special teams coach Dave Toub said Hill could return against the Titans. The speedster was taken off that particular duty this season to keep him fresher for the offense.
Toub was asked what the Chiefs lost in that sacrifice. ”Maybe two touchdowns,” he said flatly.
SPEAKING OF SPECIAL TEAMS: The Titans beat the Chiefs 19-17 in December 2016 on a game-ending field goal by Ryan Succop, who had spent most of his career with Kansas City. Succop came up short on his first attempt at the 53-yarder, but Reid had called timeout just before to give him another shot.
Succop made the mulligan for a victory in the coldest game in franchise history.
MARIOTA’S MOMENT: The Titans’ young quarterback had struggled down the stretch, when they lost three straight to fall off the playoff pace.
But while his numbers against Jacksonville last week to help clinch a postseason berth were modest, several teammates said Mariota got his swagger back.
”It was just me being me,” he said. ”Again, I’m going to do whatever it takes to win. This is the time in the season when you’ve just got to lay it all on the line.”
WATCH FOR FLAGS: The Chiefs were among the most penalized teams in the NFL this season, getting flagged 118 teams. The Titans were the second-best in the league, drawing just 85 penalties – second-fewest in franchise history for a 16-game season. In a playoff game with razor-thin margins, penalties could be the difference between winning and losing.
ARROWHEAD MYSTIQUE: The weather should be in the 40s for kickoff Saturday, or about 40 degrees warmer than when these teams met last season.
That should make it more comfortable for players, but also fans that will be plenty lubricated from their tailgates by the late afternoon kickoff.
”There’s nothing like Arrowhead Stadium when that place is packed,” Reid said, ”and it’s a little cold and the ground is shaking a little bit. It doesn’t get any better.”
Austin Bibens-Dirkx earned his first victory of the season, shutting down a struggling Kansas City Royals squad that’s wondering when it will get its next win.
Bibens-Dirkx pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Rougned Odor homered and the Texas Rangers extended their winning streak to a season-high five games with a 3-2 victory Wednesday night.
Bibens-Dirkx (1-1) allowed one run and five hits in 6 2/3 innings for his first win since last Sept. 6 in a relief appearance at Atlanta – and sent the Royals to their ninth straight loss.
”The first two starts didn’t quite go as I had wanted,” Bibens-Dirkx said, ”so to get another opportunity and to come out here and do what I feel like I can do on a pretty consistent basis was nice.”
Kansas City’s slump is its longest this season [url=http://www.bengalscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-carl-lawson-jersey]Carl Lawson Jersey[/url] , and the Royals have dropped 15 of 16 overall and been outscored 102-38 while losing 16 of 18 in June. Their worst June in franchise history was 7-19 in 1970, the team’s second year in existence. The Royals will wind up June with nine games against the Astros, Angels, Brewers and Mariners, clubs above .500.
Bibens-Dirkx, a 33-year-old right-hander, spent 12 years in the minors, including two seasons with independent league teams before making his big league debut last year. He was called up to replace Yohander Mendez, who was sent to Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday after violating team rules.
Jake Diekman worked the ninth for his second save, but not before yielding a leadoff homer to Mike Moustakas. The game ended when Hunter Dozier was thrown out at second on a delayed steal.
”It’s perfect timing,” Royals manager Ned Yost said to steal. ”You probably haven’t noticed that we’ve been having trouble bunching some hits together. It’s a chance to maybe hopefully catch them by surprise and get into scoring position and one hit will tie the ballgame up and keep us going.”
Yost acknowledged that Isiah Kiner-Falefa making his first big league start behind the plate factored into the decision to send Dozier. His throw nearly hit Diekman in the head.
”It was kind of scary, a crazy, crazy way to end the game,” Kiner-Falefa said. ”It worked out. Everything worked out. That was close. I was kind of in shock that he was out. I was just glad it didn’t hit Jake, honestly. I tried to adjust my throw last second and saw it bounce, but that was close.”
Diekman just avoided being hit.
”I was shocked – that the ball was thrown, that he was running at all – but it was my bad for not getting out of the way,” Diekman said. ”It ended the game and it didn’t hit me, so we’re good.”
Odor homered into the Royals’ bullpen with two outs in the sixth on a 1-2 pitch from Royals starter Jakob Junis, who has lost his last five starts and has not won since May 18. Junis (5-8) has given up 19 home runs to tie for the American League lead. He allowed three runs and five hits with four walks and a hit batter.
”I’ve given up a lot of home runs this year [url=http://www.edmontonoilersteamshops.com/authentic-leon-draisaitl-jersey]Authentic Leon Draisaitl Jersey[/url] ,” Junis said. ”It’s something I’m conscious about. I’m trying to keep in the ball park because when I do that’s when I have more success. I can’t pinpoint on it on one exact thing.”
Shin-Soo Choo led off the game with a single, extending his on-base streak to 34 games. He stole second, moved to third on Elvis Andrus‘ high chopper back to Junis and scored on Nomar Mazara’s fly out to center,
The Rangers loaded the bases with no outs in the second on singles by Jurickson Profar and Odor and Joey Gallo’s first of three walks. The Rangers, however, converted that into only one run when Kiner-Falefa grounded into a double play.
Alex Gordon singled with one out in the Kansas City second and scored on Dozier’s double.
Bibens-Dirkx and Kiner-Falefa became the first starting pitcher and catcher in big league history with hyphenated last names.
After the Royals traded closer Kelvin Herrera to Washington, who will inherit that role? ”All of them,” Yost said of his relievers. ”Opportunity exists down there. We’ll have to see who takes advantage of it. I’ll look at different guys, but I would prefer one guy to emerge, take advantage of the opportunity. But it’s wide-open right now.”
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (elbow discomfort) threw batting practice to C Robinson Chirinos and OF Carlos Tocci. He is hopeful to begin a minor league rehab assignment Monday. ”There were some quality pitches inside the set, like a guy that was getting ready to take the next step of the rehab process,” Banister said. … RHP Chris Martin (right calf strain) also threw to hitters. He is eligible to come off the disabled list Friday. ”He’s close,” Banister said.
Rangers: Off on Thursday before opening a weekend series Friday at Minnesota with LHP Mike Minor (4-4, 5.35) starting.
Royals: Travel day on Thursday to Houston, where LHP Danny Duffy (3-7, 5.55) will start the series opener Friday.
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