ATLANTA — Eric Berry returned an interception for a touchdown, and then brought back another pick for a 2-point conversion that gave the Kansas City Chiefs an improbable 29-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
The Falcons, rallying from a 27-16 deficit, went ahead 28-27 on Matt Ryan’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson with 4:32 remaining.
Atlanta decided to go for 2, looking to stretch the margin to a field goal. But Berry stepped in front of Ryan’s pass and ran 99 yards the other way to give the Chiefs (9-3) their winning margin. It came after Denver stole a game in similar fashion last month, returning a blocked PAT for the winning points at New Orleans.
Sunday’s outcome meant even more to Berry, who grew up in suburban Atlanta and was playing in the city for the first time as a professional. Also, it’s where he was treated after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma near the end of the 2014 season.
“I shed a few tears before the game, I shed a few tears during the game and I shed a few after,” Berry said. “It was just a lot of emotions. I tried to contain them and let it show through my play.”
Ryan was clearly down after the game, knowing this was one that got away from the Falcons (7-5).
“A poor play on my part,” the quarterback said. “I was expecting combination coverage to the outside. Eric Berry did good job coming down off and going onto the tight end. A disappointing play.”
Berry had another huge play with less than a minute to go in the first half, picking off Ryan’s pass over the middle and bringing it back 37 yards for a touchdown. After reaching the end zone, he handed the ball to his mother sitting in the stands at the Georgia Dome.
“I just handed it to her and told her I’d be back.” Berry quipped.
He fulfilled that promise.
Those weren’t the only backbreaking plays given up by the Falcons. On fourth-and-2 from their own 45, Kansas City faked a punt and snapped the ball directly to Albert Wilson , who played his college ball in the same stadium for Georgia State. Wilson burst up the middle for a 55-yard touchdown that extended Kansas City’s lead in the third quarter.
“I had a sense it would come down to the end, and it did,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “But I reminded the team that it never comes down to one play.”
Alex Smith completed 21 of 25 passes for 270 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown to Spencer Ware. Travis Kelce was Kansas City’s top receiver, hauling in eight passes for 140 yards.
Ryan was 22 of 34 for 297 yards, but his two huge mistakes doomed the Falcons. Julio Jones hauled in seven passes for 113 yards, while Devonta Freeman had a couple of 1-yard touchdown runs.
Forty-one-year-old Matt Bryant closed out the first half with the second-longest field goal of his career for the Falcons.
Barely across midfield, Bryant booted a 59-yarder that easily clear the crossbar, cutting Kansas City’s lead to 20-16 at the break. The only longer kick for Bryant was a 62-yarder with Tampa Bay in 2006.
He also tied Atlanta’s franchise record for longest field goal. Morten Andersen made a 59-yarder in 1995.
The Falcons lost left tackle Jake Matthews to a left knee injury in the first half.
Trainers put a sleeve over the knee, and Matthews tested it out on the sideline with some runs and cuts. But he headed to the locker room just before halftime and didn’t return. Tom Compton finished out the game protecting Ryan’s blind side.
Kansas City was again missing Jeremy Maclin, its leading receiver. He returned to practice Wednesday and it was thought he’d be able to play after sitting out three straight games with a groin injury. But he didn’t dress against the Falcons.
Chiefs: Return home for a huge Thursday night game against AFC West rival Oakland, the first of three straight games at Arrowhead Stadium before the season finale at San Diego.
Falcons: Travel to Los Angeles next Sunday to take on the Rams.