The Chiefs And The Knockout Punch

Do you remember Ali-Frazier el numero uno? The moment Frazier tagged Ali and sent him sprawling to the canvas was one of the most memorable moments in sports history, even if you’re a big Cassius Clay… er… Muhammad Ali fan like myself. Three and a half years later, when Ali rumbled with George Foreman, he wore him down with the rope-a-dope, then delivered his own knockout punch, and it was just as memorable if not more so.

There have been many famous players or teams that have delivered a knockout punch to take their place in sports history. The “knockout punch” has also become the cosmic simile for, the winning moment, putting the game away, or mission accomplished. That’s the reason commentators and historians of the league speak so fondly of “the game winning drive” and keep track of them like they’re the lost crown jewels of King John.

Perhaps lost in the 8-0 shuffle and hoopla associated with the Kansas City Chiefs current record and with all the attention that has gotten, is the fact that when the Chiefs win their next game, they will be a “winning team” this year. Guaranteed by mathematicians everywhere.

Hopefully that blow comes this Sunday in Buffalo. The question is, do the Chiefs have what is takes to deliver this kind of pivotal knock out punch?

Why pivotal?

The Chiefs whole season could turn on the outcome of Sunday’s match with the Bills. If the Chiefs lose, they go into the Bye Week with a dirty taste in their mouths that has to stay there for a minimum of 2 weeks. Then, following the break they’ll face Denver in Denver and the teams will likely be vying for sole possession of first place. In this scenario only one team will come out one game ahead, assuming the Broncos win in San Diego on the weekend after their bye, and their bye is this weekend.

However, if the Chiefs are able to deliver a knockout punch to the Bills and take a 9 game winning streak into the bye and the Broncos game, then the best that Denver can hope for is a tie for first, if they win their contest in San Diego on November 10th.

Another possible positive outcome is that the Chiefs beat both the Bills and Broncos and take a two game lead, and a ten game win streak with them, back to K.C. on the evening of November 17th. If that happens, the Chiefs will be going into their last 6 games with a two game lead in the AFC West and a firm grasp on the division as well as conference seeding.

Of course if the Chiefs win their next two and the Broncos lose to the Chargers, K.C. will take a 3 game lead over both S.D. and Denver going into the final 6 weeks.

So… these next three weeks are a lot like mid to late rounds of a championship boxing match. Every move to put their opponents on the ropes is critical and it doesn’t matter if the Chiefs bob-and-weave or float like a butterfly but, they must win these rounds (games) on all score cards.

So, can these Chiefs deliver the “knockout punch” or not?

There’s a piece on how to deliver a knockout punch in one punch at WikiHow.com. It says step one, is to have confidence. Do the Chiefs have the requisite confidence necessary to beat up the Bills this weekend?

To begin with… there’s an 8 game winning streak that says yes. Only it’s really spelled, “H-E-L-L   Y-E-S!”

Winning has a way of spreading confidence like wildfire in a dry late summer forest. These Chiefs go into every game expecting to win and after winning their first 8 games of the season, why wouldn’t they continue to have confidence that they’ll achieve their own expectations?

You may have noticed a pattern from one Chiefs game to the next. The pattern of them wearing down the opposition in the fourth quarter. The game against the Cleveland Browns may have been the first game this season in which that didn’t pay off with a knockout punch but, at least the Chiefs still won on a decision.

Just like Ali was able to wear Foreman down and knock him out late, the Chiefs have been able to bring top level conditioning to their games which puts them in position to make that knockout punch when the game is on the line.

Yes, a knockout can come by winning a single game, in reference to a whole season but, the real KOs comes at critical moments of individual games. Do the Chiefs have what it takes to deliver those KOs down the home stretch of the season?

Yes, in fact the Chiefs have more “knocker-outers” than almost any team in the NFL and that’s a big reason they’re record is unblemished right now.

So, who are the Chiefs key KOers?

1) Tamba Hali- Hali’s amazing physical prowess makes him a danger to the opposition throughout a game but he’s become… late game lightning in a bottle. In all of Tamba’s years with the Chiefs I don’t think I’ve ever seen him lose his cool. I think I’d like to.

2) Jamaal Charles- talk about lightning, JC is a constant threat to take the ball all the way to the house at any given moment. Teams have to plan for him and defenses players have to take different angles to get to him because of his 4.3 speed. JC was recently compared to Eric Dickerson because of his “slasher” style of running. JC can throw the upper-cut and be dancing in the end zone before the opposing QB has a chance to set his Gatorade down.

3) Derrick Johnson- OLBs get most of the attention when is comes to critical moments impacts on the game but, no one should doubt DJs play making ability. Recalling DJ stealing a couple INTs in Denver in the past couple of years are lifetime best Chiefs memories. Against Cleveland DJ had 12 total solo tackles and 4 tackles for a loss (STFs). FOUR tackles for a loss. These are tackles being made behind the line of scrimmage on a running back. If you agree that the Chiefs have been throwing nothing but hay-makers this year look no further than DJ for a good reason why. BTW… these STFs alone fully qualify him as a KO artist.

4) Dwayne Bowe- consider Bowe the magician formerly known as WR. Bowe knows success. Bowe knows diversion and that’s been his major role this year. Don’t forget, Bowe knows how to make big plays. Since Bowe came into the league in 2007 there is no Chiefs player who has made more big plays than Dwayne Bowe (DBowe since 2007 = 41 TD’s, JC since 2008 = 32 TDs). And you can bet every single other team knows it and that’s why they always double him. Bowe’s sacrifice is why the other Chiefs WRs have had the success they’ve had this season. Can Bowe win a game at crunch time with one of his acrobatic catches? You shouldn’t doubt that one bit.

5) Eric Berry- Mr. Berry is having his best campaign so far as a professional. He’s like a mini-DJ and not because he knows how to mix music. EB is a KO artist and not too many years from now will be considered the best Safety to ever don a Chiefs uni.  Berry knows how to show up at the right place at the right time and he’s also gaining some notoriety for his coverage skills this years. His hits are becoming legendary.

6) Alex Smith- Smith’s best tool for escaping trouble so far has been his legs. In his past two seasons with the 9ers he’s shown more KO ability than since he’s been with the Chiefs but, the season is still only half way over and he’s admittedly still learning Reid’s system, along with all his WRs. The tools are there for A.S. to be a KO artist but he needs to step up and play a more efficient brand of ball to take advantage of the pieces that Dorsey and Reid have set in place all around him.

7) Justin Houston- Houston is perhaps the biggest human upper-cut of all. I had the fortunate opportunity to go to Chiefs camp this summer and Houston is one huge massive man. He will one day be the sack king of the NFL if not this season then soon. And he should remain the king of his heavyweight division for quite some time.

This list doesn’t even take into account players like kick returners Dexter McCluster or Quintin Demps who have both struck their blows. Newbie CB Marcus “The Coop” Cooper has already had a dramatic effect on Chiefs games and who can take anything away from what Punter Dustin Colquitt has been doing? Not to be counted out of this boxing ring of honor is FB Anthony “The Tank” Sherman who’s already responsible for putting a load butts on the ground to set JC free while also becoming a valuable pass receiving asset out of the backfield.

So, what’s the best indicator of whether or not they will deliver in the last half of the season? That can best be answered by asking whether or not they are already doing it?

Jags game

Alex Smith threw a TD to WR Donnie Avery with about 9:00 left in the first quarter. That was the go ahead TD as it turns out but, was the game still on the line? Yes, so then Smith threw a TD to Junior Hemingway. Were those the knockout punches of which I speak? Yes and no. Since both drives began inside of the Jags 25 yard line, it wasn’t too impressive at that point. However, after a 57 yard, 8 play drive climaxing with a Jamaal Charles 2 yard run, there seemed to be plenty of knockout ability being expressed, especially when Tamba Hali followed that up with a 10 yard TD/INT return.

Cowboys game

The Cowboys had a total 16 running plays that produced 37 yards. The Chiefs offense had no turnovers. The defense stuffed the Cowboys at crunch time to deliver the knockout punch. Sometimes, efficient and turnover-less football is enough to win. That game felt more like a split decision win and those games are no less critical to win when it comes to counting “Ws” at year’s end. After the game Alex Smith sounded like a boxer, “It’s not always going to be pretty, but you have to find a way to bear down.”

Eagles game

A botched punt by the Eagles handed the ball to the Chiefs at the 8 yard line which lead to a 3 point lead early on. Next, Derrick Johnson played volleyball with Eric Berry setting him up perfectly on a tip drill and Berry spiked the ball in the end zone for a quick 10-0 lead. Alex Smith was 22-35 for 273 yards. The defense had 6 sacks to pound the mid-section of the Eagles high-powered offense of the future. The Chiefs offense took the steam out of the Eagles hopes by winning the time of possession 39:07 to 20:53. The Chiefs have already begun to display that they have a variety of ways to take the wind out of another teams sails.

Giants game

The New York Giants are a mess. Alex Smith threw 2 INTs and Center Rodney Hudson fumbled the snap and the Chiefs went on to win 31-7 anyway. Again the Chiefs dominated time of possession 35:56 to 24:04. Gaining 390 total yards and making 16 first downs goes a long way towards beating another team into submission.

Titans game

The Chiefs have won two games by one point but, the Titans game may have been their most closely contested. Jamaal Charles made sure this one was won by gaining nearly half his total yards in the 4th quarter helping the Chiefs score 13 points in the fourth quarter of a come from behind victory. The defense hammered the nails in the Titan’s coffin by pulling in two interceptions in the final 7 minutes.

Raiders game

With nine sacks and three INTs the Chiefs defense has established itself as a heavyweight in the heavyweight division. While the Raiders dominated time of possession 34 minutes to 26, this game wasn’t close as the men in red chased down Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor all day long. 137.5 decibels didn’t hurt the Chiefs cause at all. Chiefs 24-7.

Texans game

The game against the Houston Texans was close until the end. With 1:46 left and possession of the football, the Texans had a chance to march down the field and win the game with a field goal. However, once again the Chiefs defense wasn’t going to allow that. On their second play QB Case Keenum had the ball stripped by Tamba Hali and then recovered by Derrick Johnson. Light out. game over.

Browns game

The Chiefs may have lead from wire to wire but this game was not decided again until late. Once again the Chiefs offense kept holding serve, and the ball, long enough to win the time of possession battle 36:05 to 23:55. When Ryan Succop stepped up to punch a 40 yard field goal through the uprights with 17 seconds left it sealed the outcome and only a last second miracle TD would be able to save the Browns… which did not happen… and the Kansas City Chiefs are a perfect 8-0.

Hopefully by paying attention to how each of these games were won you can see that someone, or several someones, stepped up in each game to throw the knockout punch.

I can’t think of a better way to build a team than to have heavyweights all over the field. For other teams, an injury to their QB and their season is over.

The Kansas City Chiefs are loaded with a wicked jab, a dangerous right-cross and an upper-cut that can put you down in a second. Yes, they’re a young contender that loves to throw body punches all day long so, you may be watching them fight for a world championship belt very soon.

Why?

Because the Kansas City Chiefs have the knockout punch.

Many actually.

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