Time ticked off the clock in Arrowhead Stadium and the Chiefs were on the right side of a 33-19 score against the hated Broncos. Thousands of Chiefs fans and myself slowly backed off the ledge. In my last post I compared rooting for bad sports teams to being in a bad relationship. The Chiefs of late had made me pondering crazy thoughts like divorce. Well the Chiefs sent me balloons, one of those cute teddy bears that says "I'm Beary Sorry" and a dozen roses. To beat the loathsome Broncos to break the 12 game losing streak is even sweeter.
I have been smiling since 3 p.m. yesterday and it would take something pretty catastrophic to wipe it from my face. The Chiefs played with heart. They were fired up and responded everytime Denver mounted a comeback. I'm not sure what Cutler was thinking throwing across the field when he could have tucked the ball and ran for ten or more yards on the bootleg but we (Chiefs, Chiefs fans, coaches) will take it. Heart and desire to win can overcome talent deficiencies. Throw in some great individual performances from young players and this is the kind of growth everyone in Chiefs Nation wanted to see. It is one thing to lose, it is another thing to lose to awful teams and look lifeless doing so. The past two weeks the Chiefs looked lifeless. I'm not sure if it was Herm's long interviews and motivational talk this week, Larry Johnson meeting Jim Brown and being reminded why he's in the NFL or a good game plan by Gunther and Chan Gailey but we'll take it.
Return of the Play-Action Pass
Play-action passes work. They draw linebackers up and create separation for a receiving corps in need of whatever advantage they can get. What play-action also does is puts doubt in the defender's minds. I think this was a main component in the game that helped decide the outcome. When Huard would fake the handoff to LJ or Charles it was almost always a completion. I think Chan had been hesitant to use it earlier in the year because the downside of play-action is it takes an extra second to get a pass off. The inclusion of play-action passing was a much needed boost to help the offense.
Defensively the team flew to the football. A young fast team finally looked young and fast instead of just young. Brandon Carr is a stud. Even on the touchdown to Brandon Marshall, Carr had perfect technique and coverage. I maintain that no corner in the NFL could have stopped that play. It was perfectly thrown by Cutler to a leaping 6'4" receiver and despite under-cutting the route like Carr did and leaping he just couldn't do much about it. Flowers on the other side also had his moments but to me Carr covering Marshall was a key difference in the game. He reminds me a bit of James Hasty. I know it's a bit "hasty" (bad pun I know) to crown him a Pro Bowl cornerback but he has great instincts and is a big fast corner. Gunther Cunningham for all of this "Cover-2" talk from Herm is a man-to-man, in your face, rush the passer kind of defensive coordinator. He and Jim Johnson of the Eagles are from the same mold. They are gamblers and big play creators. I never get the feeling that Gunther is comfortable sitting in soft zones hoping his defense doesn't make a mistake. I prefer watching blitzing, attacking defenses. I think it plays well with a young fast defense to just attack and dont think. It seemed that KC had that mentality today.
My biggest question is will these young kids let down in Carolina in front of a hostile crowd against an all-world receiver in Steve Smith and a powerful running back in rookie Jonathan Stewart? The Chiefs will have to play with just as much fire as they showed yesterday to have a chance against a good Carolina team and this Sunday could go a long way in deciding just where this season is headed. Win or lose Chiefs Nation wants heart out of its players and the Panthers will provide a stern test.
I've backed off the ledge and the doctors say I'm not a danger to myself or others. That is good news and if the Chiefs could somehow sneak out of Carolina with a win I might be forever cured.