We all know that the Kansas City Chiefs absolutely deserve their 1-10 record, and they needed a gargantuan effort by Jamaal Charles to get that one win. The loss to the Broncos today can hardly come as a surprise to anyone that’s watched the Chiefs this season but, as the 17-9 final suggests, at least they didn’t get blown out.
When you’ve only won a single game after week 12 in the NFL season you absolutely look for moral victories and that score represents one of them. By holding Denver to 17 points, the Chiefs became the first team to keep Peyton Manning and company under 20 points this season. Let me restate that in case you missed it. On Sunday, Kansas City became the first team in 2012 to keep the Broncos – a team that had scored 30 or more for five straight weeks – under 20 points.
Not only did the defense keep Denver off the scoreboard for most of the day, they held Manning and company to 285 yards passing and limited them to 95 yards on the ground. For Manning it was his fourth lowest passing output of the season. The Broncos offense was averaging 394.2 yards per game coming into Arrowhead and after accumulating 368 yards on the day left with their average a few yards lighter (391.8).
Beyond that, the Chiefs allowed just one play of 30 yards or more and that was a 30-yard touchdown in the third quarter. This is another positive sign that the D is starting to tighten things up and play as a cohesive unit. Even on that long touchdown, CB Jalil Brown was in the right place and had excellent coverage, but Manning dropped a perfect pass right into Demaryius Thomas‘ hands in the end zone. There was nowhere else the ball could have gone to get that result. Manning is one of the best QBs – ever. You just have to tip your cap and move on after that play.
The positives don’t stop at the team level as there were some individual achievements to note as well.
Eric Berry had, by my estimation, his best game of the season and appears to be slowly working his way back into form after missing last season. He’s still not the player we saw as a rookie in 2010, but he’s a lot closer to that than he was a couple weeks ago. The secondary as a whole held up remarkably well against Manning, Thomas, Decker and company and deserves a nod for their efforts.
Justin Houston continues to establish himself as a defensive force for the Chiefs. He hit Manning four times and had two sacks in the game. It’s not often that Manning gets hit and even on Sunday KC only got to him six times. The fact that Houston had four of those speaks volumes about what he brings to the table.
There was even a Tyson Jackson sighting. In fact, his name actually got called a handful of times over the course of the game (for positive reasons), and he actually hit the QB once. That doesn’t change the fact that he hasn’t done much in four seasons with the team and should be cut loose after the year, but at least you notice him on the field these days.
Jamaal Charles ran for 107 yards on 23 carries. When he was off the field, McCluster and Draughn were effective and ran hard in their two carries apiece.
That’s where the positives end on this side of the ball. The ground game outgained the aerial attack 148 yards to 116. That’s not unheard of, but it’s not like we’re talking about 200-300 yards via the run.
Brady Quinn went 13/25 for a measly 126 yards and was picked off once. Playing behind a patchwork offensive line obviously wasn’t doing him any favors, but he was poor independent of that. While all the world is screaming for the Chiefs to get a franchise quarterback – and I certainly agree that it is a massive need – in reality the entire offense needs to be rebuilt around the RB combo of Jamaal Charles and Shaun Draughn. In addition to drafting a QB, the team needs to gut its receiving corps and restock from scratch.
I didn’t think it was possible this far into the season, but Quinn found a way to throw for fewer yards than the 154 Cassel managed a couple weeks ago. Put their efforts together and this was the fourth straight week, and the sixth time in seven games, the Chiefs offense failed to break 200 yards passing. If you’re wondering, 124 yards passing is their worst game of the season – week five against the Ravens – but Quinn and Cassel both played in that one so it goes into a different category all together. If anyone out there still wants to see Quinn over Cassel under center, consider that the Chiefs have thrown for 200+ yards five times this year and Matt Cassel was the quarterback in all of them.
Of course for draft purposes, we DO want Quinn to start.
Speaking of Drafting and Rebuilding
Once you get past the loss, Sunday was a terrific day for the Chiefs. At 1-10 they are now all alone in the driver’s seat for the 1st overall pick. The primary competition for the honors of drafting first took a step back in the race with wins.
The Cleveland Browns punked the Roethlisberger-less Steelers 20-14 to “improve” to 3-8. Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars, who almost shocked the Texans last week, broke through to get their second win of the season. Their victim? The inconsistent and relatively hapless Tennessee Titans who fell to the Jags 24-19.
As an added bonus, 2-8 Carolina takes on 3-7 Philadelphia tomorrow night meaning that one of those two teams will be all but out of the picture to pick 1st.