Cassel, inserted back in the starting lineup because of Brady Quinn’s concussion, had played an inspired game on Thursday night against San Diego and even had the Qualcomm Stadium fans a little nervous when the Chargers held a tenuous 11-point lead in the fourth quarter.
But with 10:46 to play in the game, Cassel, from his 5, was chased into the end zone, sacked and stripped by linebacker Jarret Johnson. The ball was recovered by Shaun Phillips for a touchdown.
And with 8:46 to play, Cassel’s pass in the right flat went through running back Dexter McCluster’s hands, into the waiting arms of former Chiefs linebacker Demorrio Williams, who returned it 59 yards for a touchdown.
You need one quarterback who has as many or more turnovers than all but one NFL team (not including his own) and another one who is worse. You need an offense that can put together 17-play drives without scoring.
You need a team in such disarray that the star running back gets 39 touches in one game and five carries in another, the head coach openly and repeatedly says he doesn’t know what’s going on, and the owner stays silent behind the scenes trying to decide when to step in.
You need a team that’s become such a punch line in some football circles that the coach who got fired last year is jokingly called “Vince Lombardi with a dirty cap” by one personnel man while comparing the current carnage.
The Chiefs have not owned a lead in any of their eight games this season. In last week’s wire-to-wire loss to Oakland, the Chiefs became the first team not to hold a lead during its first seven games since the 1929 Buffalo Bisons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The NFL was founded in 1920, so the Chiefs’ dubious record covers a lot of bad football teams that managed to at least poke ahead of their opponents before losing.
The 0-16 Detroit Lions of 2008 … the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976-77 who lost their first 26 games … the Lions of 1942 who scored just 38 points in an 0-11 season … those hideous New Orleans Saints teams of the 1970s and early 1980s that embarrassed their fans so much they wore bags over their heads to games (as some Chiefs fans did last week at Arrowhead Stadium) … all led a game at some point during the first seven games of their seasons.
The Chiefs (1-7) committed four more turnovers and lost their fifth straight game. Running back Jamaal Charles left with a neck injury in the fourth quarter.
“Similar to what’s been happening throughout the course of this year, we shoot ourselves in the foot,” Crennel said. “We’re in a hole and we have to fight our way out. … It wasn’t very good overall, but we’re going to keep coaching and keep fighting and play our way out of it.”
The Chiefs’ four turnovers ran their NFL-high mark to a staggering 29, which have led to 104 points.
“We fought hard, played hard, but at the end of the game it came down to the turnovers,” said quarterback Matt Cassel, whose fumble and interception both led to a Chargers TD.
Every year at some point, usually right after the worst NFL team looks even worse than usual, someone brings up the notion that the best college team might be able to beat the worst NFL team. It kind of sounds possible on paper, if 15 of the 22 Alabama players are heading to the NFL anyway, why couldn’t they beat the Chiefs? Despite the way the Chiefs bumbled around the turf in San Diego during Thursday night’s 31-13 loss, there is just no way they would lose to a college team. But don’t take it from me, take it from Las Vegas insider RJ Bell who tweets about the Vegas sports books and gambling news. He said Vegas oddsmakers consider the Jaguars and the Chiefs the two worst NFL teams, and they would install both as 24-point favorites over Alabama. Going to the other end, they would have the 49ers listed as a 40-point favorite. In other words, it isn’t happening.