FOXBOROUGH — Jamell Fleming call it “calculated.” Danny Amendola called it clean.
The helmet-to-helmet hit that Amendola laid on Fleming in the second quarter of the Patriots’ 27-20 win over the Chiefs led to an unnecessary roughness penalty and a mosh pit of pushing and shoving on the field Gillette Stadium.
Fleming was settling under the ball inside the 5-yard line after the Chiefs tried a pooch punt from the Patriots’ 37-yard line. Amendola seemed to be measuring up the punt as well, then he turned around, found Fleming and speared him, trying to keep Fleming from pinning the Patriots up against their end zone.
Fleming said the hit was deliberate.
“Of course he knows he stuck me and everything,” Fleming said. “And the crowd knows it, but there’s nothing I can do about it. We have one of the best pooch-area punt teams, of course, and I find the ball very good.
“Of course that was calculated. That wasn’t no fluke play. Everybody knows that, your own fans know that. So that’s how you know it’s bad.”
Since the ball was downed at the 4 yard line, the flag amounted to a 2-yard penalty. But Amendola could face a fine. If he does, he said he will appeal.
“I thought it was a clean hit,” Amendola said. “We’re coached to do that. It’s a big play if I block that guy and the ball bounces into the end zone and we get the ball on the 20. It’s a big play for field position.”
Calling any quarterback a “game manager” can be a backhanded compliment, but Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith has heard it enough times not to take offense.
It’s a nice way to say that the quarterback’s job is to not mess up, the complete opposite of a game-changing quarterback.
But Smith gets it.
He’s never thrown more than 23 touchdowns in a single season.
He’s never finished higher than 15th in completions or pass attempts, never higher than 16th in yards.
But since 2010, he’s thrown the second-fewest interceptions among quarterbacks with at least 1,500 pass attempts. He’s completed 63.7 percent of his passes since coming to Kansas City in 2013, the best clip in franchise history. But most importantly, his 30 wins with the Chiefs are the most by any Chiefs quarterback in his first three seasons.
“I’d just say he’s a good quarterback that’s won a lot of football games,” coach Andy Reid said before his Chiefs fell to the Patriots, 27-20, in a Divisional Round playoff game at Gillette Stadium.
He understands the game, he gets it. I think every quarterback that has had a career like he has — I mean he’s  years old and he’s been a starter in this game for a long time — those guys that survive learn to manage the game and play it the right way. He does that.”
Smith, who finished 29 of 50 for 246 yards passing and a touchdown in Saturday’s loss and added 44 rushing yards, doesn’t take “game manager” as a slight.
“You take the public’s meaning of the word and the negative connotations of it, but there [are] so many different situations, especially at this level, that you have to know and they’re hard to teach.
“Sometimes it comes from experience and playing a lot and being around, and the more you play, you just kind of bank all that stuff and you learn from watching other games and guys and what they do and talking about situations.
“But no question, I think that’s a huge aspect of football, especially situational football. But at this point, the whole negative side of that I certainly could care less about.
“I’m at the point in my career where I don’t get caught up in that stuff anymore, honestly. I’m worried about winning and doing my job.
“I could care less what anyone’s really saying as far as that goes.”
Sherman is special
Former North Attleboro standout Anthony Sherman carved out a niche for himself in the NFL by not only being the man that plows holes open for Charles, but also being one of Kansas City’s leaders on special teams.
Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub called Sherman the best fullback/special teams player in the NFL.
“He’s a big-time leader for us,” Toub said. “He’s our captain of our special teams in the locker room and on the field. He’s the voice. He’s the one that motivates guys. He’s the one that picks them up when they need to be picked up. You just need that role.”
Allen adds versatility
The Chiefs spent the season mixing, matching, and patching together their offensive line. Eight players have started in the trenches with nearly all of them flip-flopping duties at some point.
Fourth-year lineman Jeff Allen has been in the middle of it all. He got his first start of the season in Week 7 against the Steelers and when he was tapped, his first priority was finding consistency for a group that was constantly changing.
“Coming out each and every week and putting our best foot forward,” Allen said. “That’s what you want to do with championship teams.”
Allen’s shuttled between left guard and right tackle this season. He hadn’t practiced at tackle before the move, but he adjusted quickly.
“It presents a challenge, especially switching a total position — going from guard to tackle — because they’re two different monsters,” Allen said. “On the outside, you have more athletic guys; inside, you have bigger, stronger guys, the fight starts sooner. And also switching sides is a challenge. But we have a lot of guys that can do it.”
Despite the shuffling, the Chiefs line cleared the way for the NFL’s sixth-best rushing attack, despite the loss of star running back Jamaal Charles.
And Kansas City ran the ball in Saturday’s loss, gaining 135 yards on 32 rushes.
“I would say it’s pretty rare to have as many guys as we have that are versatile, that are able to switch spots and able to get the job done,” Allen said.