Respect was one of the factors in play when Chiefs Chairman Clark Hunt and GM Scott Pioli chose Crennel to guide the Chiefs for the final three games of this season. Williams remembers that being the case in Atlanta as well when Owner Arthur Blank and President Rich McKay chose Thomas to guide the Falcons following Petrino’s resignation.
“We just wanted to rally and win for him,” Williams remembered of Thomas’ time as Falcons interim head coach. “We only had a couple of games left and guys wanted to go out with a bang. A guy like Emmitt, who everybody has such respect for, guys just want to win when the organization gives him an interim job like that.”
Carson Palmer’s tenure with the Raiders hasn’t gone without its share of struggles. The veteran quarterback has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns and owns a 77.7 quarterback rating through seven games.
But even with Palmer’s up-and-down play, the Chiefs still see a much improved quarterback compared to the last time the two teams met.
“You can see that he’s settled down and that he’s gotten comfortable with his receivers,” S Kendrick Lewis observed. “He has a better feel of how to get his play-makers the ball. You can just see that he’s a different quarterback because he’s comfortable with the playbook and everything that they’ve since setup for him.”
“To be totally honest, yes,” said Crennel, the Chiefs’ interim head coach. “He had a finger (injury), hadn’t practiced a whole lot. He was new to the team, new to the system. The thing I knew about him is that he’s a pro quarterback and played in games in the NFL before and has a good arm.
“But we didn’t know how it was going to play out on game day. You just don’t know going in sometimes. It played out very well.”
• Third-and-3 from the Green Bay 33 — Rodgers lines up in the shotgun with two receivers to his left and one to his right. Finley lines up next to the left tackle. The Chiefs are in man coverage across, with Daniels on Finley. They also have a safety to double him. Finley beats Daniels inside, and is open, but nobody else is. Rodgers’ throw is just off target. With the safety bearing down on him, Finley can’t pull it in for a catch. The way the Chiefs play the defense, the throw has to be perfect. It was not. The Packers punt.
• First-and-10 at the Green Bay 38 — Rodgers has two receivers to his left, one back in the backfield, with Finley split wide to the right. Tight end Tom Crabtree lines up in-line on the left side. Finley is in man coverage this time with Flowers, and he has Finley blanketed. Rodgers looks there first, but with no room to throw, comes back to the middle. That’s where Crabtree is open in the middle of the field, but before Rodgers can get the ball loaded to throw, Hali comes around Marshall Newhouse and hits Rodgers to force a fumble. It’s man coverage and a pass rush that ruins that play.
At least Kansas City can say they have a kicker for life should they decide to keep Succop. At this point, he’s having the best year of his young career. He missed four field goals out of 29 attempts in 2009. He failed on six tries out of 26 last season. His perfection from beyond 50 yards in 2011 is a personal best.
Two more makes without a miss and Succop owns the franchise record for consecutive field goals. He still has a way to go to set the all-time NFL record. Mike Vanderjagt of the Indianapolis Colts holds the record of 42 consecutive field goals from 2002 to 2004.
In a season of inconsistent play on both sides of the ball for the Chiefs, Succop has turned into one of the bright spots for the franchise.