The Kansas City Chiefs were slipping into a familiar nightmare.
With the third quarter of Sunday’s game against the Saints nearly half over, Matt Cassel and the KC offense started to press. They were trailing 17-6 and hadn’t found the end zone all day. First, LT Branden Albert jumped offside. Then, on 3rd and 12 at the KC 24, Cassel dropped back to pass. Rather than dump the ball off to an open Jamaal Charles in the flat, Cassel forced the ball to Steve Breaston. Jabari Greer jumped the route and easily intercepted the pass. Two plays later, Drew Brees found FB Jed Collins for a TD, making it 24 to 6, New Orleans.
The Saints would never score again.
Earlier this week, while doing a Q&A with the editor of FanSided’s Saints site, Who Dat Dish, as part of their game preview, I was asked what the Chiefs needed to do to beat the Saints.
They have to run the football well. If they can get the running game cooking they will be able to work in the play action and move the ball. But more importantly, somebody on defense has to make a play. These guys are supposed to be the strength of the team and right now they can’t stop anybody. I think they are in shock or something. One play, a pick six or a big sack, could snap them out of it. They need to relax and stick to their assignments. The offense isn’t good enough to win a shootout with Drew Brees. The D has to show up.
There ended up being multiple big plays on defense (see Houston, Justin) but the big spark, the play we’ve all be waiting for, came from, who else? but RB Jamaal Charles.
On the very next offensive play after the Saints converted Matt Cassel’s interception into a TD, Jamaal Charles went 91 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest run by a Chief in the history of the franchise.
Charles was the spark. And he started a fire.
The Saints tried to battle back. Brees took them all the way down to the KC 30. But then the defense got their first turnover of the season when CB Stanford Routt picked off Drew Brees.
From there, the comeback was on. The Chiefs would go on to get contributions from all three phases, offense, defense and special teams on their way to a 27-24 overtime victory.
By the time the day was over, the San Diego Chargers were 2-1 and the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders were 1-2. That means next week, when the Chargers come to Arrowhead, the Chiefs will be playing for at least a share of first place in the AFC West.
The win wasn’t perfect but perfect wasn’t what the Chiefs were looking for. They were just looking for a win.
And for now at least, that will do.