Yep. So I was there.
Living on the other side of the world, my brief return for the holidays was my only opportunity to see the Chiefs in person this season. I happened to be in town for two consecutive home games – against the Packers and the Raiders — and had to choose one, so I naturally chose the one I thought they were going to win.
But, like that guy in Indiana Jones and the Quest for the Holy Grail, I chose … poorly.
My impressions after the jump.
Liked the new and improved Arrowhead, which is indeed new and improved. I was very happy with it, and we had great seats 24 rows up from the 50-yard line.
Disliked the Chiefs fans who allowed Raiders fans to sandwich us from above and below in what should have been a solidly KC section.
Liked Dexter McCluster’s heart and awareness. This guy continues to amaze me. He now looks like a veteran out there and is no longer making the dumb mistakes that made him inconsistent throughout the 2010 season. In addition to that great catch-and-run in the 4th quarter, he chased down an Oakland defender returning an interception 62 yards, saving the Chiefs seven points in the process – the Raiders, in the end, were unable get any points out of that turnover.
Disliked Dwayne Bowe’s end zone drop. This is exactly why Bowe hasn’t been re-signed, and I’m beginning to think that Baldwin was drafted specifically to replace him. I hope this isn’t the case, and Bowe is brought back after this season – more on that later this week.
Liked Orton’s pocket poise. Despite being rushed constantly, Orton was able to avoid any sacks and generally moved well in the pocket. He ended up 21/36 as he was usually able to find at least someone open.
Disliked Orton’s decision making. This was a really weird up-and-down day for Orton. He had some great throws but also made some really head-scratcher decisions. That interception in the end zone was really bad. I have no idea who he was throwing to and I was only a few hundred feet away.
Liked the defensive performance overall. This was a good, all-around game for this stout unit, even the D-line looked improved in back-to-back weeks – something I’m not used to seeing out of them. Consistency, whaa? The difference of this game was made in two big plays in which the safeties were one-on-one with speedy Oakland receivers and seemed to be caught sleeping. I don’t think this will happen once Eric Berry is back, and even if it does, he’s athletic enough to run the receivers down after the catch.
Hated the special teams effort, of course. It gives you a sickening feeling to lose a close and hard-fought game due to special teams and depth players, but that was exactly what happened at Arrowhead on Saturday. The Chiefs depth across the board has been horrible. Although Arenas has a good average in returning punts and kickoffs, we’ve had no spark in the return game all season. Allowing two blocked FG’s in a 16-13 game is obviously disgraceful. I’ve grown accustomed to expecting a penalty of one sort or another on every single one of our returns. We ended with 11 penalties on this game, mostly on no-name players.
Disliked the coin. Kicking both at the beginning and end of this game clearly contributed to the loss. That freedom-hating coin should be melted down and fired in the direction of North Korea (via Oakland).
Liked security at Arrowhead. There were a series of obnoxious Raiders fans (sorry for being redundant) who were picking fights with literally everyone around them throughout the game. Towards the end of the game some security guys who had clearly been watching the scene progress subtly came down to keep the guys from jawing with other fans around them when it looked like things might get violent, and stuck around to serve as peacekeepers in a hands-off but ultimately effective way I don’t usually see security act at events. In my experience, the guys in the “Event Staff” jackets tend to either do nothing or overreact.
Disliked the unbending enforcement of the “last call.” I was waiting for a beer guy to hand a beer off to some guy past me in the stands before asking for one myself. By the time I asked apparently the last seconds of the 3rd quarter had ticked away. The guy then just said “Too late,” and walked away. I went inside and stood in line at one of the concession stands and some Arrowhead guy came running up Jack Bauer-style as a fan was picking up a beer they had just poured him. “No! Send it back! Send it back!” he shouted, as if preventing a nuclear detonation. The vendors quickly poured it out and gave the guy his money back. The 4th quarter had not yet begun. Kansas City was saved.
Liked that Denver and San Diego got themselves blown out while all of this was going on. Unfortunately, it just makes this loss sting a bit more because those outcomes would have kept the Chiefs in the playoff hunt with a win over Oakland. It will make it fun to serve Tebow his third loss in a row next week, however.
Disliked the conservative playcalling. This is what worries me about having a defensive head coach. I’m cool with us keeping Romeo as long as we get ourselves a good offensive coordinator in the offseason. If I have to see another 3rd and 13 run up the gut in a close game, I may have to set fire to something important. Don’t let the terrorists win. Call aggressive plays. Please for the love of God.