Every week, we here at Arrowhead Addict break down the Kansas City Chiefs’ matchup of the week and predict five things the team will have to do in order to win. Once the game is over, we take a look at the Five Keys and see how well the team did. Welcome to Five Keys to Victory Follow Up.
A team that finished last season with only two wins has doubled that total in the first four weeks. In case you’re not keeping score at home, that means that the Chiefs are now 4-0. Before the game we talked about the five things the Chiefs had to do in order to win. Let’s go back and take a look at how we did. As always, my original comments are in normal type and my follow up comments are in bold.
Key #1: Run the Ball Early
The Chiefs have done a great job of grinding out the ball on the ground at the end of the game when the victory is in the bag. It’s nice that “garbage time” is on the other end of the spectrum from last season, still Chiefs fans (and some members of the coaching staff if the NFL Network TNF commentators are to be believed) would like to see Reid using Jamaal Charles in his more traditional role earlier in the game than the last half of the 4th Quarter.
The first play from scrimmage was a run to Charles. This was a departure from what Reid has started out with the previous three games. While Charles ended up with less than 70 yards on the ground, Smith had a couple of runs early (both designed and impromptu) which controlled the game. While I’d like to see the Chiefs utilize the ground a bit more earlier on, they did well here.
Key #1: Achieved
Key #2: Do Not Let Cruz Defile the Endzone with a Salsa Dance
I said on this week’s episode of AA Radio that many people forget that as bad as the Giants are playing, they still have Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz on this team. It was bad enough that former Chief, Tony Gonzales, dunked a touchdown celebration in his old home on opening season last year. I just don’t think I could deal with it, if Cruz catches one of his patented 80 yard receptions from quarterback Eli Manning and does the salsa in the endzone. Chiefs’ secondary, I’m talking to you.
With starting cornerback Brandon Flowers on the sideline with an injury, offseason free agent Dunta Robinson was tasked with keeping Cruz in check. After the Chiefs drove down the field and scored to start the second quarter, Eli Manning hit Cruz on a deep ball for a 69 yard touchdown. Cruz got his salsa on in the endzone. If the story ended right there, I’d call this key a loss. But, because Bowe and McCluster “took back” the salsa after their touchdowns, riling up the deflated Giants in the process, I’m going to say that this was a win.
Key #2: Achieved
Key #3: Give Manning Something to Tell His Brother During Their Next Phone Call
The Giants offensive line is terrible. I mean, they’re absolutely atrocious. They let the younger Manning get planted nine times last week. With the league leading sack defense, it should be nothing to get to the quarterback at least 10 times. In fact, if Justin Houston were going to go for that single game sack record, I would say there is no time like the present. Sack him early and often. A frazzled Manning leads to a twitchy Manning which leads to…
The Chiefs defense made it to Manning three times during the game. Tamba Hali took down the younger brother twice and on one of them, it appeared as if Hali was channeling the spirit of Derrick Thomas as he put the patented “sack-strip” move on Eli, causing the fumble. After getting burned deep by Cruz, Robinson redeemed himself, but coming out of the pile with the ball. The other hit, by backup defensive end, Allen Bailey was a monster sack which drove Manning backwards and to the ground.
Key #3: Achieved
Key #4: Interception Time on Eli Manning
Don’t confuse Eli for his older brother. While Peyton is lighting up teams and leads the league in touchdown passes, his little brother leads the league in throwing picks. We know this Chiefs team is capable of intercepting the ball. They’ve done it four times already, one of them being the “dream come true” for safety Eric Berry as he returned an errant Michael Vick pass last week for a TD. The Chiefs need to keep Manning in the business of giving the ball away.
The Chiefs defense continued their domination by intercepting Eli on what was a very ill advised and, honestly, weird deep pass that over flew the closest Giant receiver by 10 yards. Despite that fact, defensive back Quintin Demps was ready for the ball and hauled in his first interception of the season before returning back into Giant territory.
Key #4: Achieved
Key #5: A Touchdown for the Bearded Wonder
I’m fairly confident that if the Chiefs can check Keys 1-4 off the list, they’ll win the game. So, I’m throwing this in for good measure. Chiefs tight end Sean McGrath is quickly becoming one of my favorite players on the team. Granted, he’s got six catches in the last two games for over 60 yards, but his enthusiasm and his beard are hard to miss. I want to see what this guy does if he finds pay dirt. Will he spike it? Will he dunk it? Will he let his beard do any of those things? Quarterback Alex Smith needs to look for McGrath when they’re in the redzone. I can’t wait to see what happens.
I absolutely love watching guys score their first touchdown in the NFL. Seeing the pure look of exhilaration on their faces and culmination of a lifetime of work makes football worth watching. “Fear the Beard” is quickly becoming a battle cry for Addicts who have latched onto this colorful player and having him put the first Kansas City points on the board yesterday on a sharp pass from Alex Smith was perfect! I think that he was so excited he forgot to touchdown dance, so hopefully we’ll get a chance to see him perform one next week!
Key #5: Achieved
That’s it, Addicts. Five for five! The Chiefs are rolling and if you think they’re not for real, you’re probably going to get left behind when this train leaves the station. They are truly playing team football where all three phases complement each other. When the offense stalls, the defense gets the ball right back. When the defense forces a punt, the special teams scores a touchdown. It’s only going to get better as this team continues to mesh and gel. I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens next!