KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There’s no simple explanation for why Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark has become one of the greatest passers of all time in the NFL post-season. But he readily admits that it happens.
“Everything comes together at this point,” Clark said after his 1.5 sacks against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game. when you have that mentality as a coach … that’s where it comes in. When I come to the postseason, I get that greeting from the coach [Andy] Reid. It’s like ‘go ahead and do your thing’.
“They have a reason [brought] I told the guys here [the day before the game] I would determine the course from the beginning to the end of the game.”
Counting Clark’s sack in the Chiefs’ divisional playoff win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, he’s currently third on the NFL’s postseason career list at 13.5. He would share second place with Hall of Famer Bruce Smith by passing a sack at Super Bowl LVII against the Philadelphia Eagles on February 12. He would tie the all-time leader Willie McGinest with 2.5 sacks.
Clark isn’t the only Chiefs rusher to build a postseason legacy for himself. Chris Jones played one match against the Bengals for centuries. Despite being blocked by two players in a large percentage of games, Jones still had two sacks, 10 presses and five hits on quarterback Joe Burrow.
Jones has been gearing up for a playoff rematch against the Bengals ever since he missed some sack attempts against Burrow in last year’s AFC Championship Game, all of which were key plays in the Bengals’ overtime win.
“My entire season has been dedicated to this game. I missed a few big games last year. They were able to progress,” Jones said. [to the Super Bowl] and I put it on my shoulders. I’ve dedicated my entire season to making sure I’ll answer the call when the moment comes again for me.”
Jones’ performance against the Bengals wasn’t quite a breakout—he scored three passes against the San Francisco 49ers in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV win—but the seven-year vet reached a milestone.
Despite two years with 15.5 sacks, including this season, and 65 career sacks in the regular season, Jones was outed in 13 post-career games. Until the AFC Championship Game.
“Personally, I don’t care about the sacks in the playoffs. My job is to make sure I play hard, physically and physically,” Jones said. [help] My teammates around me are playing games, whether they take the whole game as a duo, or they win one on one.
“My doubling means the guys around me can take single blocks and I can open the game up to many people on the offensive line. If you remove me and the selfish side, he’s a friend of your teammates and no matter how much I want to, you don’t always have to do all the sacks. Sometimes I make other players perfect. It’s about letting them go so they can bring it.”
Jones’ performance against the Bengals is the only playoff game since the pass win rate statistic was introduced in 2017, where at least 80% of a player’s offenses are against a doubles team and the player continues to record multiple sacks. The Bengals blocked Jones with two players on 82% of their offense.
“He’s so good,” Burrow said later, “he makes it so hard for you. He’s so big and strong and physical. He really understands what you’re trying to do to him from the front.
“You have to give them credit. They had a really good rush plan. They let the hurried rushers go to work.”
Clark has described Jones as “the most unstoppable man in football,” and Jones has a case for the way he plays. No player has posted a higher pass rush win rate (21.5%) than Jones as a home defender during the regular season.
No internal defender made a doubles team more often than Jones (69%). 342 of his pass attacks were against two blockers, the most in the league. Still, he finished the league in fourth place with 15.5 sacks.
“He had a huge impact on the Bengals game. He was brutal and he did it against the run and against the pass and just playing,” Reid said. He did this all year. He played tremendous football all year.”
The Chiefs had battled to sack Burrow in recent games against the Bengals. They sacked him once in last year’s AFC championship game and once this year at the Week 13 regular season meeting.
In these games, Clark was plagued by an upset stomach that occasionally kept him out of the knee, despite playing every time.
When asked why the Chiefs were able to sack Burrow so often this time around, Clark said, “I’m healthy.” “It’s that simple.”
Clark has had at least one sack in seven of his 11 playoff games for the Chiefs. He had at least one sack in three postseason games in 2019, including a Super Bowl win against the 49ers.
After this season, he has achieved a similar winning streak so far and there is one game left.
“He’s peaking at the right time,” Jones said.
“We have to keep Frank, we have to get him to drop them.”