After a few wins, there were probably some Kansas City Chiefs fans who were done with all the talk of a team “in transition” and had already set their sites on a Super Bowl. For those fans the loss in Indianapolis might have been a large pill to swallow. We all wanted to see the Chiefs pull out a win, especially since they were in the game all the way. Although, the Chiefs lost the game, believe it, or not, there are some victories which came along with it. If the Chiefs keep getting better, this loss won’t make much of a difference to them this year.
Not even the most optimistic of fans thought the Chiefs were going to go undefeated this season. While starting out winning the first three games spoke volumes about the team’s solid off-season preparation, it was hardly a shot at infamy. Losing a road game to a team outside the AFC West isn’t a bad place to tag a loss. It would have been better if the loss was to an NFC team, but it could have been worse. No loss is desirable, but since we all knew the Chiefs would drop some games this year, one loss to a championship-caliber team shouldn’t derail much enthusiasm. If it turns out to be the first of a long string of defeats, that would be another story. But, I don’t think it will be.
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It may sound crazy, but the way the Chiefs lost the game was also good. They stayed within a field goal for most of the game, and were only down three points until late into the fourth quarter. The Colts finally broke the plane of the end zone – only barely – by some tough running late in the game. It wasn’t a big play, but it was the methodical grinding out on the ground which will eventually work on most defenses. But the Chiefs played with the “big boys” and they certainly weren’t blown away. This could have easily happened to a young team on the road against the Colts. Peyton Manning was supposed to have his team ready to play with a proverbial chip on their shoulder after their crushing loss to a division opponent the week before. But, if anyone was playing angry, it was the Chiefs defense lead by Tamba Hali who was all over Manning.
Who didn’t enjoy seeing one of the top offenses in the NFL extremely frustrated at home? It wasn’t the noise making it difficult for the Colts to move the ball, it was the new Chiefs defense. After the game a friend of mine, who is a Colt fan, assessed the Colt offense as having “stunk up the place”. But, he was obviously misguided, because any impartial observer could see that Romeo Crennel‘s defense had the Colts out of sync all day long. This defense is not a mirage. It’s difficult to believe it happened so quickly, but the turn around in the Chiefs defense has come, and it’s going to be the mark of the new Kansas City Chiefs for a while. As Chiefs fans, we can get excited about that!
The ghosts of great Chiefs defenses from the past can now be heard around Arrowhead Stadium echoing the names of Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith, Deron Cherry, Albert Lewis and Kevin Ross. This loss showed that they can haunt teams on the road with their physical style of play, as well. The names may have changed with Hali, Glenn Dorsey, Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr, Eric Berry, and Derrick Johnson now leading the charge, but it’s the same passion. I don’t think anyone expected to see a defense this good so soon, but anyone who can knock Manning down to a 64.94 passer rating as was accomplished on Sunday can officially be considered a solid defensive unit.
Although the Chiefs defense shut down an offense fourth in the NFL in both points scored, and passing yards, the goings on when Crennel & Co. are off the field isn‘t much to savor. The banged up Colt defense is tied for 23rd in the NFL in total yards given up, and 29th in rushing yards allowed. Yet, the Chiefs had limited success moving the ball and failed to punch it in the end zone. With Matt Cassel leading this offense, I’m beginning to yearn for the days that Damon Huard was under center. (Wow! I never thought I’d say that.) The way it looks now, Scott Pioli could have kept the former Patriot, career-backup quarterback he already had on his roster in Huard, instead of spending a second round pick and a big chunk of clam chowder for Cassel last year. It’s a long season, so Cassel still has time to turn it around, but in the meantime, can we stop the comparisons to Trent Green? While it’s true that last year’s numbers for Cassel are eerily similar to Green’s first year with the Chiefs – this is Cassel’s second year. In Green’s second year he made a huge jump, and the year after that he went to the Pro Bowl. Anyone think Cassel will make the Pro Bowl next year? At the rate Cassel is going, he won’t have any better numbers than he did last year, except perhaps in the win column. That’s only if the Chiefs can keep on winning in spite of his poor play.
It was a good loss for the Chiefs because they did everything defensively they needed to do in order to win. Since three wins hasn’t seemed to get the offense going, maybe a loss will help them figure it out. We’d like to feel the loss was good for something, anyway.