KANSAS CITY — Angrier than he’d ever appeared when addressing the Kansas City media, Herman Edwards lashed out Monday at anybody who says his Chiefs lucked into the playoffs.
“Let’s don’t get this thing twisted and think we backed into this deal,” he said, eyes flashing. “We didn’t lose. We won. We won the game we were supposed to win.”
Nevertheless, the Chiefs (9-7) seemed the longest of long shots on Sunday when they and several other teams went into the final regular-season game with a chance to grab the sixth and final seed in the AFC. The Chiefs needed to beat Jacksonville, then have fellow contenders Denver, Tennessee and Cincinnati all lose at home.
The Chiefs did their part, beating the playoff-contending Jaguars 35-30 behind Larry Johnson’s three touchdowns. Then New England beat the Titans, Cincinnati missed a field goal with a few seconds left and lost in overtime to Pittsburgh and Denver squandered an early lead and lost in overtime to San Francisco.
The players all left the stadium Sunday shortly after the Broncos and 49ers kicked off, thinking they would probably come in on Monday, pack and say their goodbyes.
Instead, many of them spent Sunday night and Monday morning canceling travel plans and they’ll begin preparing to play the Colts on Saturday in Indianapolis as seven-point underdogs.
“Those other teams played at home. They didn’t win,” Edwards said. “That’s not our fault. All we can do is win, and we did that and that’s why we’re in the playoffs, to be quite honest. We won enough games to get in the playoffs. It’s very simple.
“Twenty teams are packing up today. We’re not one of those 20. I don’t want to hear about luck.”
In a meeting that lasted only 15 minutes, Edwards pounded on the same theme with his players.
“I hear a lot of things about how we lucked into it, and how we did this,” he said. “You know what? If we don’t get in, if we don’t win, and those other teams do, you know what they’ll say? You didn’t win.’”
The Chiefs survived a rash of adversity and a three-game December losing streak to get to the postseason.
“And this team deserves it,” Edwards said. “After everything they went through ... they won their way into the playoffs, period.”
The Chiefs’ first-year coach, who took the New York Jets to the playoffs three of his five years there, admitted he was feeling “defensive.”
“That’s exactly right. Because I don’t want anybody to think that all of a sudden we lucked our way into this deal. We didn’t luck our way into it. We won our way into it, just like those other teams had to win their way into it. And they didn’t do it, to be quite honest.
“That’s how I look at it. And I want this team to look at it that way, too. I don’t want them to think that somebody gave us an out and said, ’Hey, you can go because we don’t want to go.’
“Are you kidding me? There’s only 12 spots and we got a spot. We’re one of the six. We’re representing the National Football League and we’re representing the Kansas City Chiefs.”
Edwards declined to say exactly what he heard to get his anger up.
“You could sense it. I wasn’t born at night.” he said. “Believe me, you could sense it. I’ve been around a long time. You could just feel it.”
“I think (the players) got the message. Loud and clear.”