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Chiefs waste record-setting rushing day in defeat

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Chiefs waste record-setting rushing day in defeat

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Jamaal Charles seemed to be happy with himself. Peyton Hillis had to feel vindicated, and embattled offensive coordinator Brian Daboll finally had a reason to smile.

Imagine how they would have felt if the Chiefs had actually won.

Even while playing out the string in a season lost long ago, Kansas City managed an offensive output that should go down in franchise history. Charles ran for 226 yards on Sunday, Hillis had 101 and the Chiefs piled up 352 yards on the ground against the Colts' backpedaling defense.

If not for a miserable effort by quarterback Brady Quinn, two turnovers in the red zone and a stuffed attempt at converting fourth down, the Chiefs might have won another game.

Instead, the Colts scored late in the fourth quarter for a 20-13 victory.

``We had a feeling we could run on them,'' Charles said. ``When Peyton did a good job running the first half, I thought, `Man, Peyton's getting off. I got to do some, too.' So I felt like I had to go out there and run the ball as well.''

The Chiefs certainly ran the ball well.

Their total was the third-best in franchise history, trailing only a couple of games in the 1960s, when teams generally ran the ball with more gusto than they do these days.

Not a bad day to put in the history books, except that it came with an asterisk: It's the most yards rushing in a losing effort in NFL history, eclipsing the 320 yards the 1944 edition of the Cleveland Rams ran for in a loss to Washington.

``We wanted to be able to run the ball and it turned out we were able to run it,'' Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said, who gave his players Monday off to celebrate the holidays.

We're disappointed,'' he added, ``as we have been many times this year.''

Thirteen times, to be exact. The Chiefs (2-13) and are tied with Jacksonville for the league's worst record heading into their season finale next Sunday against Denver. Kansas City also holds the tiebreaker for the No. 1 draft pick by virtue of their strength of schedule.

That's one positive to come out of a disastrous season.

Another one has been Charles.

After missing nearly all of last season with a torn left ACL, the former All-Pro running back has been better than ever. He's run for 1,456 yards, the seventh-best season in franchise history, and can break his own single-season-high set in 2010 with 12 yards against the Broncos.

His big game against the Colts, in which Charles surpassed 750 career carries, also qualifies him for the NFL record for yards per carry. Charles is averaging 5.82 yards on 770 attempts, which far surpasses the 5.22 yards that Jim Brown averaged in 2,359 attempts from 1957-65.

``Records are meant to be broken, and I always try to break records,'' Charles said. ``Breaking Jim Brown's record, it's one of the most special of all time to me because, listening from the past, he was one of the best running backs of all time.''

Charles has gone over 200 yards rushing twice this season, and three times in his career, which also sets a franchise record. He also has the three biggest games in Chiefs history, and his 84-yard touchdown run in the third quarter gave him three 80-plus runs this season.

``He's super-fast, he's tough. He's a scary sight for a defensive guy,'' Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. ``He opens up a lot of things for the offense. He's a key player.''

Some of Charles' running room was no doubt thank to Hillis, the former Browns bruiser who has been a disappointment since signing as a free agent in the offseason.

He bullied his way for 101 yards on Sunday, his best game since Dec. 24, 2011.

The thunder-and-lightning combination gave the Chiefs their first duo of 100-yard rushers since Oct. 7, 1991, when Christian Okoye and Harvey Williams did it against Buffalo. It's a feat that has only been accomplished six times in the 53-year history of the Chiefs.

``You can't go back and say, `We should have run the ball more,''' Charles said. ``Losing by seven points, it didn't have nothing to do with us running the ball.''

It had to do with Quinn's inefficient game, poor execution in clutch situations and a defense that had played well all afternoon failing to get off the field late in the fourth quarter.

It also had to with Daboll's offense, which has been historically inept, failing to get into the end zone despite one of the most productive ground games in franchise history.

``We turned the ball over, got penalties at inopportune times and gave up an easy touchdown at the end of the game, as well as miss a field goal,'' Crennel said. ``So when those kinds of things happen, it's hard, and until we can rectify that, that's what we have to deal with.''

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Astros players plan to make a team statement on sign-stealing scandal during Spring Training

Astros players plan to make a team statement on sign-stealing scandal during Spring Training

The Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal has rocked MLB and left a dark shadow over the league during offseason. Up until this point, despite a fired general manager and on-field manager, the players at the root of the scandal have remained silent on the subject and avoided questions from the media.

That will all change in Spring Training as the Astros players plan to make "a strong statement as a team," according to Astros' owner Jim Crane. 

"When we get down to Spring Training, we'll all get them together and they'll come out with a strong statement as a team and apologize for what happened and we'll move forward," Crane said in a media scrum.

Over the weekend the team held their annual winter FanFest where several players had to face the music as many players met with the media for the first time. Jose Altuve, who is one of the players who allegedly benefited from the sign-stealing, dodged the question as best he could. The Astros shortstop's comments coincide with Crane's, saying “I think the time to comment about that will come. It’s a little early for me to say something about it.” 

Outside of their FanFest event, there is little that has come out of the clubhouse. Their owner acknowledged the lack of communication from the players and said the players were advised to stay out of the conversation. 

"The players have been beaten up a little bit and they've been all spread out. They've just kinda getting [sic] advice to take it easy."

Already Spring Training in West Palm Beach is going to be awkward between the two teams that made the World Series last season. The Nationals, who won the World Series whether or not the Astros used their system to gain an advantage, have their facilities next door to Houston's.

And if the Astros sign former Nationals' manager Dusty Baker to the same position in wake of A.J. Hinch's firing, there will be even more tense situations at Spring Training this year. 

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Jay Gruden reportedly to join Jaguars as their offensive coordinator

Jay Gruden reportedly to join Jaguars as their offensive coordinator

Just four months shy of his last appearance on the NFL gridiron sidelines, Jay Gruden may already have his 2020 gig lined up, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.

Gruden was head coach of the Washington Redskins for six seasons, beginning in 2014 and going 35-49-1 in his burgundy and gold tenure. Gruden pushed the Redskins to their first postseason appearance since 2012 in his second year with the team, as well as back-to-back winning seasons in 2015 and 2016, not seen in Washington since 1996 and 1997. 

In March 2017, Gruden signed a two-year extension with the Redskins. He was fired after beginning the 2019 season 0-5. 

Recently, Gruden confirmed to Rapoport that he was "itching for something to do" and seeking employment before Jacksonville brought him in to interview for the OC role. 

After playing four years at the University of Louisville and and eight more in various football leagues, Gruden held many offensive roles, offensive coordinator for the Florida Tuskers and Cincinnati Bengals. 

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