It’s “Victory Monday” in Kansas City and the Chiefs Kingdom as a whole after the Chiefs completely dismantled the Washington Redskins on the frozen fields of FedEx in Landover, Maryland yesterday. The Chiefs sent the rest of the NFL a message with their three-phase victory, which saw nearly perfect execution in all aspects of the game. As always, we broke down the five things we thought the Chiefs needed to do to win. My original comments are in normal type and my follow up comments are in bold. Let’s see how they did.
Key #1: GET TO THE QUARTERBACK
I’m not going to quote you a bunch of stats about how the Chiefs have only sacked the quarterback one time since returning from their bye, after leading the league in that category after the first eight weeks. Damn, I guess I just did. Regardless, they’re playing a very bad Redskins offensive line today and they need to apply constant pressure to the legend in the making, RG III. Without that, they can probably forget it. As Kenny Cember stated in this week’s episode of AA Radio, if the Chiefs don’t come away with two or three sacks today — at a minimum — I’ll be very concerned with this team moving forward.
The Chiefs Attacking 3-4 defense returned in a big way yesterday. The team racked up the sacks with linebacker Tamba Hali getting two, lineman Tyson Jackson getting two and safety Eric Berry as well as reserve linebacker Frank Zombo getting once apiece. In all, the Chiefs sacked Redskins QB’s six times, getting to RGIII five of them and Kirk Cousins once. For a defense that made its name on putting constant pressure on the quarterback, this was a must, and the Chiefs defense did not disappoint.
Key #1: ACHIEVED
Key #2: RUN THE BALL
Oh, the weather outside is frightful… Sorry, but it is and I couldn’t resist. It’s snowing in Landover right now, and the wind is blowing pretty good. This doesn’t bode well for much of a passing game, which is okay, considering the Chiefs have one of the best running backs in the league. This could very well be the game that Charles is forced to put the team on his back and carry them to their first victory in a month.
Charles had his best rushing game of the season. He piled up 151 yards on the ground and a touchdown. While everyone else was slipping and sliding around the frozen field, Charles almost seemed to be skating on the top of the snowy, icy mess. And oh, by the way, he was pulled at the beginning of the fourth quarter in the attempt to avoid any injury. He could have probably topped 200 yards had he not been.
Key #2: ACHIEVED
Key #3: CONTROL THE RUN
The problem with the weather is it works the other way too. The Redskins have a damn good running back of their own in Alfred Morris. This Redskins team leads the league in rushing yards at a clip of right around 150 yards per game. Coming up against a Chiefs defense that has been less than stellar against the run, that creates some serious concerns, especially when the weather will likely force an increased rushing game. The defensive front has to be strong against the rush. Derrick Johnson, Dontari Poe and Tyson Jackson have to step up today and do their best Gandalf the Grey impression. “No one shall pass.” Nothing? Really? Okay…moving on.
Unitl yesterday’s contest, the Redskins were leading the league in rushing yards per game at right about 150. Today, they’re #2 in the league at 143 yards per game. Do you know why? Because the Chiefs defense did not allow Alfred Morris and RG III, who have had huge seasons on the ground, gain more than a combined 65 yards. Granted the Redskins were playing from behind pretty much as soon as the opening kickoff, but still. Only gaining 65 yards in the entire game is pretty bad. My hat is off to the Chiefs defensive line. Well done.
Key #3: ACHIEVED
Key #4: WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE
Even after their three game slip, one category the Chiefs still the lead the league in is the turnover differential. Coming into today’s match up, the Chiefs are at a +16 on turnovers. Even though games in weather like today are notorious for more turnovers than normal, I’m confident this Chiefs team will find a way to limit those to the absolute minimum. On the other side of the ball, the defense needs to do what it has all season and take that ball away. The more chances this offense has to score, the better.
The Chiefs came into this game to make a statement. A statement they made. Derrick Johnson got his 10th career interception on the Redskins’ first offensive possession and nearly returned it for a touchdown. Later in the game, third year man Ron Parker scooped up a fumble and returned it for 20 yards. You may say the weather contributed to the turnovers. This might be true, but the Chiefs’ starters didn’t turn the ball over a single time. The only giveaway the Chiefs committed was a Chase Daniel interception during garbage time in the fourth quarter. This still put the Chiefs another turnover ahead of zero. It’s how you win football games and the Chiefs won. Big.
Key #4: ACHIEVED
Key #5: LEAVE THE LAST THREE WEEKS BEHIND
One of the most overused cliches in the NFL is “you have to have a short memory.” No truer words have spoken than when talking about the Chiefs coming into Week 14. The losses of the last three weeks — and especially the close one from the last two weeks — have to be firmly in the rear view mirror for this Chiefs team to have success moving forward. They can’t focus on the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” of winning the division — which is now quite the longshot. They must worry about what they control moving forward and play this Redskins team like it’s the only game of the season.
This was perhaps the biggest key this week, and the most intangible. Trying to see how the Chiefs would come out and play a bad team after three tough losses would define the rest of their season. They did exactly what they were supposed to do. The executed their game plan in all three phases and systematically destroyed their opposition. If they were playing film of the Broncos games or the Chargers game in their head during the course of this match up, it was transparent to everyone. As far as I could tell, they had long since moved on from those losses and were only concentrating on what had to be done.
Key #5: ACHIEVED
It’s been awhile since the Chiefs have come through and executed this perfectly. In fact, I’d go out on a limb and say that they haven’t done that all season. Achieving all five keys to victory just shows that this team has found a way to get itself back on track and move toward the goal of the playoffs and eventually the Superbowl.
Let’s hope they can keep it rolling as Raider Week starts now.
There it is, Addicts. The Chiefs need to come away from this game with a victory. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. A win (and some help) get them into the playoffs for the first time since 2010. A loss and the red flags will continue to surround this team moving forward. Kickoff is only a couple of hours away. We’ll see how it shakes out.