In the final minutes of a loss to the Minnesota Vikings, running back Charcandrick West fumbled a ball that was recovered by defensive end Brian Robinson. Since then, the Chiefs haven't had a turnover or a loss, and Alex Smith has the team in position to go to the postseason after five straight wins.
It's only the third time a team has ever gone five consecutive games without a turnover in a year, and it was the 2011 San Francisco 49ers that did it last ... led by Alex Smith. He quarterbacked that 49ers team to a 13-3 record and managed to avoid turnovers altogether for the last five games of the regular season before finally losing in overtime of the NFC Championship.
San Francisco extended their streak of turnover-free regular season football to six by avoiding a turnover in Week 1 of the 2012 season, but couldn't tie the record of seven straight games set by the New England Patriots in 2010.
In the first four games of Kansas City's streak of mistake-free performances, the team won by at least 10 points in each matchup, including a 33-3 destruction of the San Diego Chargers. But in a close game against the Buffalo Bills, what was most impressive is that Smith managed to push the ball downfield and still avoid interceptions.
Smith and Jeremy Maclin connected for gains of 37, 41 and 32 against the Bills secondary. The 41-yard strike was Maclin's third touchdown of the season and the gains of 37 and 32 led to touchdowns for the Chiefs shortly thereafter, even if the 37-yarder shouldn't have counted.
"We had some opportunities earlier in the year on some deep balls and just missed them," Smith said after the game. "[Maclin] has done a great job of just continuing to win out there and staying hungry. I was finally able to connect with him today and give him an opportunity."
In Weeks 3 and 4, Maclin managed to post back-to-back 140-yard performances, but had been quiet in recent weeks. Entering Week 12, he had four consecutive games with just three receptions and hadn't eclipsed 50 receiving yards since Week 5.
The Chiefs broke that trend by making a commitment to get their playmaker the ball and his nine receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown represented his best performance since signing with the team in the offseason. After going an entire season without a wide receiver catching a touchdown, Maclin is in position to become the first Chiefs receiver with over 1,000 receiving yards since Dwayne Bowe in 2011.
The showing for Maclin also upped Smith's season totals to 2,681 yards with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions. No other full-time starter has thrown fewer than four interceptions and he's been particularly efficient in the last seven games, even if no one is taking notice.
Alex Smith in his last 7 games: 133/211, 1571 yards, 8 TD, 0 INT. Also, 32 carries for 215 yards & a TD. #Chiefs— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) November 30, 2015
While catching the 9-2 Denver Broncos seems unlikely, the Chiefs now control their own destiny in the AFC Wild Card race and as long as Smith and co. continue to avoid turnovers, running through their remaining schedule that features five losing records shouldn't be an issue.