KANSAS CITY, Mo. —The milestone sneaked up on the Chiefs and caught them by surprise. They were on the verge of finishing off the Seattle Seahawks early in the fourth quarter last week when Jamaal Charles' otherwise unremarkable four-yard run put him over 1,000 yards for the second straight season.
Unlike last year, when the Chiefs made it a goal to get Charles over 1,000 yards in the season's final game, this year's event passed with little fanfare.
"I didn't realize it until my wife said something about it before the game, that Jamaal was almost to a thousand," fullback Mike Cox said. "We're more focused on winning now. Last year, we were just trying to find some motivation."
That speaks to the difference between this season and last year for the Chiefs. That distinction isn't as significant for Charles.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
He got an earlier start on 1,000 yards this year, so he's second in the NFL in rushing with 1,021 yards. A rushing title is possible, though he's 209 yards behind the leader, Houston's Arian Foster, who has played one more game than Charles.
"I don't want to stop at a thousand," Charles said. "I want to keep it going. A thousand yards is not enough for me."
Foster gets the ball much more often than Charles — 85 times, to be exact. As long as Charles shares the featured back position with Thomas Jones, who has 15 more carries but 300 fewer yards than Charles, his path toward a rushing title will be stunted.
Jones, meanwhile, needs 288 rushing yards over the final five games to get to 1,000 for the sixth straight season.
The Chiefs won't admit it, but they must be tempted to go with Charles more often than Jones. Charles has been far more effective, averaging 6.3 yards per carry to Jones' 4.0.
Charles has 32 runs of 10 or more yards and eight of 20 or more, to Jones' 15 and three.
"We've run it effectively with both guys," offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said. "Jamaal has made a bunch of big plays. He's one of the leaders in the league in longer runs.
"The productivity of a running back is directly related to how fresh they are. One of the advantages we have right now is we're in December now, and we have two guys that are both getting a bunch of carries, and the wear and tear that happens to a lot of guys hasn't shown (for Charles or Jones).
"Very seldom does a running back get to December and feel good. They don't usually feel fresh at this time. The plan that (Todd Haley) had, along with (running backs coach Maurice Carthon), is paying some positive dividends with those two running backs as far as the utilization and the way we're going."
Not that they don't have a million aches and pains, but neither Jones nor Charles has made an appearance on the weekly injury report the Chiefs must file with the NFL.
It's easy to view Charles' season as an extension of last year's, when he rushed for 968 yards over the final eight games. The Chiefs aren't looking at it that way. That's why they made the signing of Jones a priority in the offseason and why they're going to doggedly stick to their plan, even though Charles rushed for 173 yards and Jones for 68 in last week's win in Seattle.
"We've had a plan here that we're really excited about," Haley said. "You can look at that game last week, and you saw some really good inside running (from Charles). I think to keep from becoming too predictable, it is very important that Jamaal can run well inside and Thomas can run well outside and we don't just say, 'Well, this one does that and the other one does this.' I think in that game, you saw Jamaal run very well inside.
"When you see someone come on strong like (Charles) last year, it's easy to say, 'Well, he was great, so where the heck was he?' This has been a development for Jamaal."