Marcus Peters

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Chiefs beat Miami 29-13 to win back-to-back AFC West titles

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Andy Reid addressed the Kansas City Chiefs in a jubilant locker room dressed from head-to-toe in a Santa Claus suit, which not only fit him perfectly but was also perfectly fitting.

The Chiefs had just given their fans quite a present.

Alex Smith threw for 304 yards and a touchdown in another steady performance, Kareem Hunt ran for 91 yards and a score, and the Chiefs beat the Miami Dolphins 29-13 on Sunday to clinch back-to-back AFC West titles for the first time in franchise history.

“Just phenomenal,” Reid said, likely smiling beneath his fluffy white beard. “But we’re not going to sit on this. We’re not done yet. We’re going to enjoy the holiday and get right back at it.”

Tyreek Hill had six catches for 109 yards, and Harrison Butker converted five field goals, as the Chiefs (9-6) dashed what faint postseason hope the Dolphins (6-9) still harbored.

“It’s hard to win football games only kicking field goals,” Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler said. “A couple fumbles, couple of missed opportunities here, a penalty when we’re driving – it’s those types of things that’ll hurt you.”

Cutler threw for 286 yards and a touchdown, but a big chunk of that came on a 65-yard toss to Jakeem Grant late in the first half. Otherwise, Miami went 0 for 8 on third down and struggled against a Chiefs defense that has been stingy and opportunistic the past two weeks.

That’s coincided with the return of Marcus Peters from his disciplinary suspension.

The Chiefs’ star cornerback had two interceptions and forced a fumble against the Chargers last week, a win that pushed them to the brink of the playoffs. He recovered a fumble and forced another on Sunday, giving Peters a hand in five turnovers the past two weeks.

“He’s always around the ball,” said Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, who forced the first fumble. “Marcus is always playing with fire, this whole year.”

Both turnovers led to points, but they weren’t the Dolphins’ only costly miscues.

They also were nailed for defensive holding four times, all of which came on three scoring drives for Kansas City. And the Dolphins inability to get off the field on third down, after holding opponents to 8 for 39 the past two games, was similarly deflating.

“Got in a couple situations that we couldn’t use some of the things that we had planned,” Miami coach Adam Gase said. “We just need to find a way to be consistent and get them off the field.”

Still, the Dolphins had the ball trailing 17-13 late in the first half, the outcome and their longshot playoff hopes were still in the balance. But they soon went three-and-out and the Chiefs added a field goal to make it 20-13 at the break, then another to start the second half.

Even when the Dolphins made a crucial stop on fourth down to get the ball back later in the third quarter, they squandered the opportunity. Peters stripped Kenny Stills to give the Chiefs the ball, and Butker hit his fourth chip-shot field goal for a 26-13 lead with 12:19 to go.

That gave a sparse crowd that turned out on Christmas Eve, braving slick roads from an overnight snowfall and frigid wind chills at kickoff, plenty of time to celebrate a division title.

Turn their thoughts toward a home playoff game in the new year, too.

“It’s a great feeling,” Hunt said. “We’ve got these fans that are going to go crazy for the playoff game, and we get to play in Arrowhead Stadium one more time.”

FROZEN FIELD

There was no tarp on the field overnight, so a crew of workers used shovels to remove about an inch of snow by hand. The footing turned out to be fine, but Smith thought the cold weather gave Kansas City an advantage. “We have a lot of experience playing in cold weather,” he said. “All the little things, the snaps, they’re that much harder, and I think all the reps do help.”

STATS AND STREAKS

Chiefs TE Travis Kelce had four catches for 47 yards and a score , and has a catch in 63 straight games. … Chiefs coach Andy Reid improved to 5-1 against Miami. … Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry had five catches for 51 yards, giving him a league-best 103 catches this season. … The Dolphins had won seven of their last 10 against Kansas City. Their last loss at Arrowhead Stadium was in 2002.

INJURY NOTES

Dolphins DT Vincent Taylor hurt his knee on the opening kickoff, while CB Alterraun Verner went down with a hamstring injury later in the half. Miami DE Andre Branch played despite a knee injury.

UP NEXT

Dolphins conclude their season against the Bills next Sunday.

Chiefs head to Denver on Sunday to finish their regular season.

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Chargers’ Rivers throws 3 picks in crucial loss to Chiefs

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Philip Rivers is no doubt happy he won’t see the Kansas City Chiefs again until next season.

He’d be happier if he never saw them again, period.

No team has caused the Chargers quarterback bigger fits than one of his biggest AFC West rivals, and that rang true again Saturday night. Rivers tossed three interceptions, two to All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters, in a 30-13 loss that likely dashed the Chargers’ playoff hopes.

“That’s the hardest part,” Rivers said. “While it’s not necessarily over yet, now you’re not in control. You got to make sure you take care of the next couple and hope all kinds of stuff happens. That is the toughest part, to claw to right there, taste it a little bit and then not play very well.”

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That may be an understatement.

Rivers had not thrown an interception during the last four games, which the Chargers (7-7) won to climb into a tie with the Chiefs atop the division heading into their showdown at Arrowhead Stadium. But the veteran quarterback grossly overthrew his intended target early in the second half, and Peters nabbed the jump ball and returned it 62 yards to set up a field goal.

The Chiefs had led 17-13 at that point. The field goal made it a touchdown game.

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler fumbled three plays later, leading to another field goal, and Rivers was picked off by Ron Parker on their ensuing possession to scuttle any comeback hopes.

He was picked again by Peters in the closing minutes to cap a miserable night.

“We just kind of fell apart in a sense,” said Rivers, who was 20 of 36 for 227 yards and a touchdown that will be mostly forgotten. “What we talked about the last four games, not turning the ball over and getting takeaways – we were the opposite of that. We turned it over too many times.

“In this environment against that team,” Rivers said, “it’s hard to win when you turn it over.”

He should know that by now. Rivers threw three interceptions when the Chiefs beat the Chargers 24-10 in Week 3, and has now thrown 13 interceptions during an eight-game losing streak to them.

“I thought this game, those three interceptions were different,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “He got hit throwing the ball in that last one. We had the wrong route on another one. There were some things that caused those interceptions today, but we have to execute better as an offense.”

The Chargers led 13-10 early in the second half, when Rivers went 5 for 5 for 88 yards in marching them downfield. His 10-yard touchdown toss to tight end Antonio Gates was the 86th time they had connected for a score, making them the second-most prolific scoring tandem in NFL history.

That was the end of their highlights, though.

The Chiefs (8-6) have played Rivers enough over the years to know that he’s prone to mistakes, and they capitalized when his throws became errant. The Chiefs got points from the first three turnovers they forced, and they nearly ran out the clock to end the game after the final interception.

“We know this team pretty well,” Parker said. “It’s like we’re playing against our brothers. We know how they’re going to try to attack us. We have to just do a good job of figuring it out.”

They did a near-perfect job of that Saturday night.

“Saying we fell apart is probably too strong,” Rivers said. “We just didn’t execute the way we needed to win the game. Now we just have to keep going, two games left. Finish it the right way.”

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Hunt, defense spur Chiefs to 26-15 victory over Raiders

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kareem Hunt ran for 116 yards and a touchdown, the Chiefs shut down Derek Carr and Raiders offense and Kansas City held on to beat Oakland 26-15 on Sunday to snap a four-game losing streak.

The suddenly stingy Chiefs (7-6) also made a big statement in the crowded AFC West race. They entered the game tied atop the division standings with the Raiders (6-7) and the Chargers, who played Washington later Sunday and visit Kansas City on Saturday night.

Alex Smith threw for 268 yards and Charcandrick West had a touchdown run for the Chiefs, who held the Raiders without points until Marshawn Lynch‘s 22-yard touchdown run with 8:51 to go.

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By that point, the Chiefs were cruising toward their 14th win in 15 divisional games.

Carr was 24 of 41 for 211 yards with a touchdown and two picks, a far cry from his performance when the teams met in October. Carr threw for 417 yards and three touchdowns that day, including the winning toss to Michael Crabtree on the final play of the game.

That loss was part of a midseason swoon for Kansas City, which started 5-0 but lost six of seven to fall into a tie for the division lead – and put its once-solid playoff prospects in peril.

The Chiefs gave them a boost again Sunday behind a defense that was shredded by the New York Jets last week, and that was missing All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters.

The volatile young star was suspended by coach Andy Reid this week for a series of embarrassing incidents, including the throwing of an official’s flag into the stands in the Meadowlands.

The trio of Steven Nelson, Darrelle Revis and Terrance Mitchell more than made up for him.

So did Kansas City’s offense, which produced for the second straight week as offensive coordinator Matt Nagy called the plays. The Chiefs got four field goals from Harrison Butker, along with their two touchdown runs, and didn’t have to punt until the fourth quarter.

The Raiders tried to make it interesting late, recovering an onside kick after Lynch’s TD run. Carr connected with Jared Cook on fourth down for another score, and the 2-point conversion trimmed what had been a 26-0 deficit to 26-15 in a matter of minutes.

But after receiving the kickoff, the Chiefs’ Albert Wilson made a juggling catch to convert a third down, and that allowed the reigning AFC West champs to mostly run out the clock.

COOPER HURT

Raiders WR Amari Cooper was active after he was cleared of a concussion and a sprained left ankle was deemed OK. But he left in the second quarter with a right leg injury when he was blocking downfield on a run by DeAndre Washington, and a defender rolled into the back of him.

OTHER INJURIES

The Raiders also were missing two defensive starters in CB David Amerson (foot sprain) and LB Cory James (knee), while DE Mario Edwards Jr. (ankle) left early in the second quarter and TE Clive Walford went down in the fourth. The Chiefs missed starting C Mitch Morse with a sprained foot.

UP NEXT

Raiders: return home to face the Cowboys next Sunday night.

Chiefs: get another AFC West contender when the Chargers visit Saturday night.

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