(Eds: Updates with quotes, details. With AP Photos.)|
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Kansas City Chiefs aren't into winning beauty pageants. They don't care about putting up big numbers on offense or polishing off shiny, lopsided victories.
Ugly works just as well.
It's a good thing, because the Chiefs haven't had a breezy win for weeks. Instead, they've relied on a blue-collar, throwback-style defense that's more comfortable sticking a hand in the mud than getting a high-priced manicure to stack up eight wins in eight games.
''We're not trying to be beauty queens. A win is a win,'' Chiefs wide receiver Dexter McCluster said. ''We know we're going to have to fight. This is the NFL. Teams are going to be good, going to play well. All we worry about is that we win.''
That's all the Chiefs have done so far.
After blowing out Jacksonville in their season opener, the Chiefs have played so many nail-biting games that maybe stopping for a manicure isn't such a bad idea.
There was the one-point win over Dallas. Another one-point win over Houston. A second-half comeback against Tennessee. And fourth-quarter stand in a 23-17 win over the Browns.
''We take pride in playing defense,'' Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. ''We don't really look at historically what we can do. Record-wise, at the end of the year, everything will add up to what it adds up to. But right now, we're holding teams the best we can.''
There's no disputing that. In an era of pass-happy offenses and with rules tailored toward scoring, the Chiefs are scratching and clawing for wins in a manner reminiscent of a bygone era, when ''three yards and a cloud of dust'' wasn't such a bad thing.
In some ways, it's a style that harkens all the way back to the Chiefs' only Super Bowl title in 1970, when coach Hank Stram was running the ''65 toss power trap'' all over the Vikings.
The Chiefs have only allowed 98 points, the fifth-fewest in franchise history, and have yet to allow more than 17 points in a game. Only three other teams since 1970 have accomplished that feat - the '70 Vikings, '71 Dolphins and '77 Falcons, who did it in their first nine games.
Kansas City also leads the league in sacks with 36, and is near the top in turnovers.
Part of the reason for all that success is the Chiefs have feasted on backup quarterbacks most of the season. They'll be getting another one Sunday, too. The Bills are still without E.J. Manuel because of an injury, and now it is possible Thad Lewis won't play because of sore ribs.
Get ready for another potentially low-scoring affair, just how the Chiefs like `em.
''We're not doing what prototypical offenses and defenses are doing. We're just going out there and having fun and winning games,'' Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali said. ''If it's by one point or 20 points, whatever the case may be, we're winning the game.
''Whether we get respect or not,'' he said, ''we like it how it is.''
The respect is slowly building, though. With every close victory, a few more people jump on the bandwagon. Just this week, the Chiefs finally ascended into a tie for first place in the AP Pro32 power rankings with the Seattle Seahawks.
All it took was becoming the first team in NFL history to go 8-0 during their first year with a new head coach (Andy Reid) and new quarterback (Alex Smith). And the first to start 8-0 after having two or fewer wins the previous season. And the first to start 8-0 after having the league's worst record the previous year.
''You know, as long as you come out in the points category ahead, we'll work on the stuff we're not good at,'' said Reid, whose best start in 14 seasons leading the Philadelphia Eagles was 7-0. ''But the record, battling, we're all in it to win games. That's not a secret.''
Even if they're not always pretty.
NOTES: Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (bruised knee) did not practice Wednesday. Reid believes he'll be OK for Sunday. DE Mike Catapano (high ankle sprain) is likely out for the Bills. ... The Chiefs elevated OL Rokevious Watkins to the 53-man roster, waived TE Kevin Brock and signed TE Dominique Jones to the practice squad in a series of moves Wednesday morning.
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