October 28, 2012
It was an absolutely beautiful fall day. I was at my favorite place in the world, Arrowhead Stadium. The parking lot was full of Chiefs fans enjoying their favorite game day tailgating traditions. The air was full of the smell of delicious grilled meats, and despite the team’s then 1-5 record there was hope in the air that KC would at least defend their home turf against the also struggling Oakland Raiders, the team’s oldest rival.
About four hours later I took the picture above. The final minutes of the game were ticking away with the Raiders in the lead 26-16. Ten points doesn’t sound like much, but that day it was clear that the Chiefs weren’t up to the challenge. The KC faithful had almost all retreated back to the parking lots where their tailgate that morning had proved to be the highlight of the day. Most fans didn’t feel the need to see the final minutes, they knew the outcome. The Chiefs were pushed around on both sides of the ball by a bad football team. Worst of all, the fans left in the stadium at the end were mostly Oakland Raiders supporters. Dressed in black, gloating and cheering, they laughed and yelled out things like “YEAH, RAIDERS BABY, THE CHIEFS SUCK!!!!!!” They turned the sacred confines of Arrowhead Stadium, home of the best fans in the world into a giant Raiders victory party. Worst of all, it was the 6th consecutive win in Arrowhead for the Raiders.
There wasn’t much you could even say back to them. I just sat there, slumped in my seat, sick to my stomach, and prayed that I would never have to see a sight like that again in my lifetime.
Fast forward to present day, and things are a LOT different.
On this day, the Chiefs would not be the ones that got pushed around. On this day, the Kansas City faithful would not have to watch the opposing team’s fans celebrate. On this day, the Kansas City Chiefs and their fans sent a 137.5 decibel message to the rest of the NFL.
Arrowhead Stadium is back in it’s rightful place, sitting on the throne as the most feared home field advantage in all of football.
This is not up for debate.
There is no argument any other team can make.
The Chiefs Kingdom set the official Guinness World Record for the loudest open air stadium on Sunday. The previous record was held by the fans of the Seattle Seahawks at Centurylink Field. Here’s the thing, Centurylink has an architectural advantage.
Notice the overhangs? While Centurylink is technically an open air stadium, those overhangs hold in the sound and reflect it down towards the playing field. This is why Seattle developed their “loudest fans” reputation only after the new stadium was built. KC was known as one of the NFL’s loudest stadiums going back decades. The Seattle record was set during a night game against a Super Bowl contender.
The KC fans on Sunday didn’t need an overhang. They didn’t need a featured prime time game, or an elite opponent.
No, Chiefs fans took back what was rightfully theirs on a typical Sunday afternoon by doing what they always do, scream like there is no tomorrow in support of the team they love.
Chiefs fans set a world record with passion, not architecture.
For years this passion was muted by poor defenses. Even a decade ago under Dick Vermeil when the Chiefs were winning games, it was with offense. A loud crowd really has it’s impact when their team is on defense.
And so the “sleeping giant” known as the Chiefs Kingdom lie in waiting while Seattle claimed bragging rights as the loudest fans in the NFL. They dreamed of the glory days of the 80′s when Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith lead one of the most feared defenses in the NFL.
Their wait is officially over.
The Kansas City Chiefs defense is back and poised to give those great defenses of KC’s past a run for their money.
In case you don’t believe me, here’s some numbers to back that statement up.
The NFL record for fewest points per game in a 16 game season is held by the 2000 Baltimore Ravens at about 10.3 PPG.
The Chiefs are currently giving up 10.8 PPG.
The NFL record for most sacks in a season for a team is held by the 1984 Bears at 72 sacks.
The Chiefs are currently on pace to get over 82 sacks.
If that’s not enough, they are also creating turnovers better than any other team in the league. They currently lead the NFL with 18 combined interceptions (10) and fumble recoveries (8). That means that the Chiefs defense is averaging exactly 3 turnovers per game to go along with 5.2 sacks and 10.8 points allowed.
When you sack the quarterback five times per game (leads the NFL), force three turnovers per game (leads the NFL), only allow 10.8 points per game (leads the NFL), and your fans’ screams reach 137.5 decibels (leads the entire history of outdoor sports) it’s safe to say that NO TEAM wants to come to your house and play ball.
It’s more than that though. This defense is special on so many levels. Yes, they have two elite edge rushers in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston that will get a lot of the attention. However, it is the combination of all the different strong players that make this defense so special.
In addition to Hali and Houston coming off the edge, they may have the best NT in the NFL in Dontari Poe. Poe is constantly collapsing the pocket and forcing QBs into the arms of the edge rushers. Plus, his 4.5 sacks is actually more than some of the best known pass rushing defensive lineman in the game like JJ Watt (3.5 sacks), Geno Atkins (4.0 sacks), Jared Allen (3.5 sacks), and DeMarcus Ware (4.0 sacks).
The other area where KC is special is the coverage ability of their cornerbacks. The Chiefs have three CBs that they trust alone in single man to man coverage in Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith, and the emerging rookie phenom Marcus Cooper. Having CBs that can excel one on one on the outside does a couple of things for a defense. It allows the pass rushers time to get to the QB and it frees up other defenders that would have been providing coverage support for lesser CBs.
That later is where the final two pieces of the puzzle come in. With Hali, Houston, and Poe providing constant pressure on the QB and Flowers, Smith, and Cooper locking up WRs it allows KC’s two best athletes on defense (Derrick Johnson and Eric Berry) to roam the middle of the field and make plays. These two are all over the place. They stop the run, they blitz the QB, they drop into coverage, they’re all over the field. It’s no surprise that they’re the top two tacklers on the KC defense.
The combination of those four elements (elite edge rushers, dominant NT, good man coverage CBs, and DJ / Berry roaming the middle of the field) makes KC’s defense one of the most dominant units on either side of the ball in the entire NFL.
You add to that the loudest fans in the history of outdoor sports and you have yourself the best home field advantage in the NFL. You have a home field advantage that EVERY team in the NFL should fear (looking at you Donkeys). You have a home field advantage that will eventually break opposing teams. The defense and crowd on Sunday wore down the Oakland Raiders until they eventually crumbled. As the game progressed the Raiders gave up more sacks, committed numerous false start and delay of game penalties, and eventually young Terrell Pryor cracked under the pressure and started throwing the ball to the Chiefs defensive backs.
This is what every opposing QB that walks into Arrowhead should expect. This is what every QB that walks into Arrowhead should fear.
Terrorhead has returned.
As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!
Follow me on Twitter: @LyleGraversen