September 23, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) breaks away from New Orleans Saints cornerback Jabari Greer (33) during the fourth quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Chiefs defeated the Saints 27-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

The Play That May Have Saved The Chiefs Season

The Kansas City Chiefs season was on the brink of slipping away. After two straight loses where the Chiefs were blown out of the water moral around KC was at an all time low. Another blowout loss might have sent a once promising season spiraling out of control for good. The Chiefs had hung tight with the Saints for a half, but then things started to slip away, possibly for good. It started to look a lot like the Atlanta and Buffalo games. The Chiefs offense gave the ball away (twice) and both times the defense was unable to stop the Saints offense from converting the turnovers into touchdowns. The result was a 24-6 New Orleans lead that had Chiefs fans (at least this one) convinced that the game was over.

After all, we’d seen this same thing play out in the first two games. Once the Chiefs are down by multiple scores, they’re sunk. The defense can’t stop anybody and the offense feels too much pressure to play catch up (thus putting too much responsibility in the arm of Matt Cassel) and the whole thing goes down in flames.

To top things off, Shaun Draughn, in an effort to try and get something going, made the mistake of taking a kickoff out of the end zone only to get smothered at the nine yard line. I remember thinking, “Well that pretty much sets us up perfectly for Cassel getting a safety!”

But then something amazing happened……

Jamaal Charles ripped off a 91-yard touchdown run.

The play itself was amazing. If anyone still had doubts about Charles’ ability to be a big play RB after his knee surgery, that one play should obliterate them once and for all. However, the play was bigger than that. JC’s run acted like a lightning bolt that shocked the Chiefs out of their self-induced comma. Going into the season everyone saw this team as a contender that would win games based off their run game and defense. However, the defense had been SO bad that this strategy was starting to seem hopeless. Then JC broke off a 91 yarder and suddenly the defense we had all been expecting magically appeared.

You would think that a big play like that would energize the offense, not the defense, but the offense was pretty much the same before and after JC’s run. They ran the ball pretty well and the passing game was mediocre. The Chiefs moved the ball well enough to get down the field but couldn’t get into the end zone, settling for FGs instead. That was the same before and after the run.

The defense was night and day different though. They played respectably before the run, but it was still the same defense we all saw in the first two games. A defense that was on its heels, a defense that was playing “bend, don’t break” football, a defense that that was allowing the offense to set the tone for the first two-and-a-half games of the season. After the run that defense disappeared and the defense that we saw during the second half of last season reappeared.

Don’t believe me? Look at these numbers.

The Saints offense in the 39 minutes before JC’s run:

42 plays, 258 yards, 6.1 yards per play, 13 first downs, zero turnovers, and 24 points

The Saints offense in the 29 minutes after JC’s run:

17 plays, 30 yards, 1.8 yards per play, 1 first down, an interception, and -2 points

The difference in Drew Brees’ numbers was just as drastic.

Brees before JC’s run:

18-27 (67 percent), 200 yards, 7.4 YPA, and three TDs

Brees after JC’s run:

2-9 (22 percent), 40 yards, 4.4 YPA, and an INT

Finally, I know that some people are still caught up in an “I can’t be happy about the Chiefs because Matt Cassel isn’t that good” mindset. Here’s the deal, that’s how we thought that the Chiefs were going to win this year: great running game, great defense, and a mediocre passing attack that has just enough weapons to help Cassel get by. That’s what we saw on Sunday (at least after the JC run). Hopefully next Sunday we see more of the same against San Diego, because despite KC’s horrible start, a win against the Chargers would assure them a share of first place in the AFC West just two weeks after many thought that they were dead in the water. Fan of Matt Cassel or not, that is something we can all get excited about.

I don’t know what the rest of the season will bring for the Chiefs. I do know that if the KC defense plays anywhere near the level that we hoped they would before the season started, we can look back and see the exact spot where the tide turned and it wasn’t a play made by any defender. It was a 91-yard TD run by Jamaal Charles that might have turned the tide, and maybe, just maybe saved the Chiefs season.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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