Revitalized Kareem Hunt propels Chiefs offense

Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt plunged into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown run in his team’s 26-15 win over the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 10, 2017. (Photo by Justin Olson, ChiefsDigest.com)

Revitalized Kareem Hunt propels Chiefs offense

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City running back Kareem Hunt rocketed through the NFL in hist first seven games but a midseason swoon raised the specter that he may have hit the rookie wall, a barrier he bashed his way through Sunday in the Chiefs’ 26-15 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

“It’s just huge to go out there and get a big time and keep it going,” Hunt said. “Now we just got to keep doing what we’re doing.”

Hunt picked up 116 yards on 25 carries with a touchdown against the Raiders. The Chiefs run game piled up 165 yards on the day, which Charcandrick West adding 25 yards and a touchdown on three carries. The run propelled the offense in controlling the ball for 36 minutes, 40 seconds.

West said the offense played as a unit after struggle with techniques, fundamentals and timing in recent weeks.

“The guys come out and played hard and played together today,” West said. “That’s what it all comes down to every time.”

While Hunt exploded on the scene in his first seven games, opportunities proved more limited the last five weeks. Hunt rushed for just 213 yards averaging just 3.1 per carry during the last five games. He averaged 102.4 yards rushing per game with a gaudy 5.8 yards per carry during his first seven games.

Hunt said he never wavered during the team’s recent losing slide.

“We know how good we can be,” he said. “We just got to keep coming out and playing as a team, offense and defense.”

He added another 22 yards on three receptions, giving him 138 yards from scrimmage. That marked the first time he cracked the 100-yard mark since his NFL record for consecutive games starting a career with more than 100 yards from scrimmage came to an end at seven games.

The Chiefs fed the ball to Hunt early, allowing him to gain 30 yards on seven carries in the first quarter. He said that played a role in helping him get back on track.

“I’m a guy who likes to get a lot of touches and get better as the game goes,” Hunt said.

Hunt’s big day also pushed him above the 1,000-yard mark in just his 13th game. He now sits at 1,046 rushing yards on the season. That leaves him just 65 yards behind the franchise record for rookie rushers. The late Joe Delaney picked up 1,121 yards in 1981.

Eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark as a rookie means much to Hunt.

“It is a huge accomplishment,” Hunt said. “Nobody can ever take that way from you.”

Quarterback Alex Smith all of Hunt’s teammates take happiness from Hunt’s early success in his career.

“I think that the kind of teammate that he is,” Smith said. “To be thrust into the role he was thrust into that late, right at the end of the preseason. The way he’s carried himself, how much he cares, how much he invests. You know how much it means to him.”

Hunt credited the offensive line for creating running lanes past the line of scrimmage.

“I give those guys props up front,” Hunt said. “They did a great job of just moving those guys and creating lanes for Charcandrick and I.”

He also said he may have to get his offensive line gifts for helping him over the 1,000-yard barrier.

“I’ve been thinking about that or taking those guys out to eat or something on me,” Hunt said.

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Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.

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