Earning Their Arrowheads

Sep 20, 2009; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs helmet on the field during the game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. Photo via Newscom

Source: Yardbarker.com

The Kansas City Chiefs outlasted the Denver Broncos Sunday in a 10-6 slug-fest.

The win was crucial for the Chiefs as it moved them to 8-4, while later that afternoon the Oakland Raiders knocked off the San Diego Chargers dropping Norv Turner’s team to 6-6.

The Chiefs now have a two game lead with only four games to play, however, that lead can be erased rather quickly as Kansas City still has games against the Raiders and Chargers on their schedule. A loss to either squad could prove detrimental to Kansas City’s playoff hopes because of tiebreaker rules.

While the Chiefs have a bit more room for error, their path to the playoffs is still simple. They just need to keep winning.

Yesterday’s game was a prime example of what the Chiefs will face when playing divisional games in December. It was perhaps a bit close than the folks at Arrowhead would like but a December win is a December win.

Let’s take a look at the Chiefs players who earned their arrowhead in yesterday’s victory.

Offense:

Matt Cassel

Cassel showed up big for the Chiefs in extremely tough conditions. The wind at Arrowhead was swirling and Champ Bailey locked down his best receiver but Cassel made the adjustments he needed to make and made use of his other weapons.

I was particularly impressed with how the Chiefs QB adjusted to some early game inaccuracy. Cassel’s first three passes were off target and at first I attributed it to nerves but now I think the winds inside Arrowhead Stadium may have had something to do with it. A number of Cassel’s early passes seemed to sail on him.

Whether it was nerves or the wind or both, Cassel made some quick adjustments and led the Chiefs on a touchdown drive that proved to be the difference in the game. I’ve always said I could care less about Cassel’s numbers and that what I was more concerned about was the QB passing the eye test. He did it again yesterday for what I consider his third excellent game in a row.

Jamaal Charles

Charles is the best running back in the league and the Chiefs are using him well right now. This is December and it is crunch time and a two to one split in carries between Jones and Charles is the perfect recipe for success.

The return of Dexter McCluster to the lineup also enabled the Chiefs to be more prodigious with their use of Charles in the passing game. He had 2 catches for 20 yards, giving him a total of 23 touches on the day.

Jamaal is a lock for the Pro Bowl and will likely catch Arian Foster for the NFL rushing title by the end of the season.

Dexter McCluster

What a touch guy. He had a few bad breaks with some penalties and his fumble could have been costly but his presence on the field still made things easier for the Chiefs on offense. He gets an arrowhead for his toughness and because he got screwed on a bogus holding penalty against Terrance Copper.

The Chiefs need to find a way to get this kid the ball more.

Thomas Jones

Very productive day from Jones who just continues to produce. He accounted for 107 yards on 15 touches both on the ground and through the air.

Jones allows the Chiefs a lot of offensive flexibility because although he doesn’t represent the same threat as Jamaal Charles, he is still good enough to force defense to respect him and that opens things up for Matt Cassel and the play action passing game. It also keeps Charles fresh. Jones was an invaluable pickup.

Tony Moeaki

4 catches for 54 yards. Moeaki has been huge for the Chiefs this year and he looks more like a seasoned veteran than a rookie. He has been remarkably consistent not just as a pass catcher but also as a receiving threat and he is only going to get better.

Leonard Pope

Heck of a catch. Don’t mess with the Pope.

Verran Tucker

Tucker is starting to show up more and more. He had 2 catches yesterday for 28 yards and he also had a key special teams play at the end of the game that helped seal the victory for the Chiefs. Lots of upside here, let’s hope he continues to develop.

Wrap Up:

A lot of arrowheads for the offense on a day where the team only scored 10 points but it was mainly penalties that hampered the Chiefs. The offense was actually fairly productive, racking up 359 total yards. They just need to limit mental mistakes.

Defense:

Brandon Carr

Best game of his career. Hands down.

Brandon Flowers

Dude was hurt and he still pretty much locked things down. Don’t worry about him being carried off the field at the end. Flowers said it was just a cramp. The Chiefs will rest him up this week and he’ll hopefully be ready to go vs. the Chargers.

Tamba Hali

Beast. Just a beast.

Eric Berry

The rookie led the team in tackles and was constantly around the ball in pass defense.

Glenn Dorsey

6 tackles on the line. The Broncos had success running the football but not on Dorsey’s side of the field.*

A note on the run defense. The Chiefs gave up a lot of yards on the ground yesterday but they did so in an effort to shut down the Broncos air attack, which they did.

Most of Denver’s rushing yards came straight up the gut. The Broncos did this nifty little move where the first lineman engaged Ron Edwards and then another lineman came over and drilled him on his right side, effectively walling him off and opening up a big hole. The Broncos did this mostly on draw plays and so the linebackers were usually back a bit in coverage and this was responsible for Moreno’s big day.

The Chiefs had no intention of letting the Broncos beat them deep like they did the last time the two teams met. That mean leaving themselves vulnerable on the ground. Once the field was shortened, the Chiefs defense tightened up and the Broncos couldn’t get the ball in the endzone. This same strategy helped shut down Peyton Manning earlier in the season.

So don’t panic too much about the run defense.

Javier Arenas

Two sacks for Arenas. Not bad for the nickel corner.

Jon McGraw

No Kendrick Lewis, no problem. McGraw did a fantastic job, racking up 5 tackles and nearly picking off a Kyle Orton pass. McGraw playing well meant less playing time for Donald Washington who is a huge liability every time he walks on to the field.

Romeo Crennel

After his defense got punked by the Broncos a couple of weeks ago, Romeo go the job done this time. The same team that gave up 49 points to the Broncos in Denver held them to just 6. The Chiefs played great team D all day. Way to go coach.

Special Teams:

Dustin Colquitt, Ryan Succop

Colquitt had a great day punting the ball and Succop hit a long FG twice after being iced by McDaniels.

Special Arrowhead:

I’m giving a special arrowhead to Chiefs coach Todd Haley for his post-game hug and celebration with Josh McDaniels. After giving McDaniels a hug and patting him on the head like an annoying neighborhood menace, Haley raised his hands above his head ala Rocky Balboa and gave some serious props to the Chiefs fans still braving the cold and cheering him on.

It was a classic moment, captured perfectly by this Youtube video.

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Tags: Denver Broncos Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs Matt Cassel Tamba Hali Todd Haley

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