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Sunday, January 3, 2010
Charles meets Chiefs' challenge

Associated Press

DENVER -- At the beginning of the week, Chiefs coach Todd Haley threw out 200 yards rushing as Jamaal Charles' goal for Sunday's finale against the Denver Broncos.

"I thought he was crazy, man. Two hundred? In the NFL?" Charles said after setting a team record by rushing for 259 yards, the final 56 coming on his second touchdown in Kansas City's 44-24 rout at Denver that knocked the Broncos out of the playoffs.

"We challenged him at the beginning of the week, set a number for him and made him call it out to the team," Haley recalled after the game.

"He stepped up. He's a pretty good player right now."

Good enough to finish the season with 1,120 yards rushing, becoming only the ninth player in the history of the storied Kansas City franchise to surpass the 1,000-yard mark despite making only 10 starts since taking over the job following the release of Larry Johnson.

"He's been phenomenal," quarterback Matt Cassel said. "He's been such an uplifting guy for this team, especially with the adversity we've gone through this year. Week in, week out this year, Jamaal has gotten better and better."

Against the Broncos, he was at his best.

He averaged 10.4 yards on 25 carries and broke off runs of 52, 33 and 30 yards in addition to his 56-yard TD jaunt with 6:25 remaining.

"They really couldn't stop us all day," said Charles, who rushed for 56 yards in a loss to the Broncos on Dec. 6. "My O-line, they did a great job of pushing, making me get 6, 7, 8 yards per carry, and all I need is a crease."

Denver's defense had no answer to that.

"He ran the ball hard, broke some tackles," Broncos safety Renaldo Hill said. "We didn't hold up our end. He did a great job of seeing the holes and running hard and doing a great job for his team."

Charles passed up a chance to get close to Minnesota's Adrian Peterson's single-game NFL record of 296 yards set against San Diego in 2007.

Haley said Charles approached him on the sideline after his second touchdown run and requested he give the playing time to others.

"That showed me even more a part of Jamaal that everybody doesn't get to see," Haley said.