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For some Chiefs, the only playoff experience is bitter

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, at 8:31 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, at 9:11 p.m.

Ideally, the Chiefs would dive into Saturday’s playoff game at Indianapolis with a roster of postseason veterans.

That’s not the case. Only 28 members of the 53-man roster have appeared in the playoffs.

Those making their postseason debut, like defensive tackle Dontari Poe, are taking their cues from the veterans who have.

“I see it when I walk in,” Poe said. “Nobody seems tired or weary. Everybody seems excited.”

Chiefs with playoff experience with other teams have plenty to offer. Quarterback Alex Smith went 1-1 as a starter for the 49ers in the 2012 postseason.

“Obviously the stage is bigger, and that’s what you want. It’s what you’ve worked for,” Smith said. “Part of it is eliminating the distractions and the hype.”

Defensive lineman Mike DeVito not only brings six games of playoff experience, but a 4-2 record — all in road games and two at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis — while playing for the Jets.

“The regular season is loud there, you can imagine how loud it is the playoffs,” DeVito said.

The Jets lost the AFC title game at Indianapolis in 2009 but beat the Colts in the wild-card round in 2010.

“In the playoffs, everything is magnified,” DeVito said. “Those little mistakes become big. … Every little detail you have to be on it. Anything you can learn, anything you can learn in film room study, practice, all that gets amped up. That’s what can make a difference.”

But the most meaningful playoff experience may come from the players who took the field for the Chiefs the last time they reached the playoffs.

In the 2010 season, with Matt Cassel at quarterback, the Chiefs won the division and played host to the wild-card Ravens.

Baltimore ran away after halftime as the Chiefs fell 30-7.

“We had a young team,” cornerback Brandon Flowers said. “I thought we’d be there every year. This is our first time back.”

The lesson?

“Every drive is crucial,” Flowers said. “You can’t let any drive go for granted and say, ‘They got a touchdown or a field goal and we’ll get them next drive.’ With every play, you have to play it like it’s your last.”

In that loss, Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster lost fumbles. The Chiefs were stoned on a fourth-and-inches, and they looked like a team without a clue about how to win in the playoffs.

“I felt like a rookie,” said Charles, who was in his third pro season. “I was excited, and I wasn’t careful. I fumbled 

“Now going into my second time, becoming a vet, I know what’s at stake. I really want this. I really want to go far. And I know if I have to put team on my back, I will. I’m really excited about taking that role.”

The most experienced member of the Chiefs when it comes to the playoffs is head coach Andy Reid. Saturday marks his 20th postseason contest, and he went 10-9 in Philadelphia with four appearances in the NFC championship game and a championship in 2004.

His counterpart, Colts coach Chuck Pagano made his playoff debut last season, falling to the Ravens.

There are 19 Colts who haven’t appeared in the playoffs, but Reid sees no advantage either way.

“It really comes down that you prepare yourself right,” Reid said. “At this stage you respect everybody. They’re all good football teams that are playing this weekend.

“You go in and you study the game plan and you go get yourself ready, whether you’re a veteran or new to the playoffs.”

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.

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