All arguments regarding the “integrity of the game” and “blown calls” aside, I’ve taken some time to digest what I saw from the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday, and I have come to the conclusion that it was nothing short of amazing. The Chiefs, a team that had effectively nothing to play for (short of pride) on Sunday, went on the road, and started 19 backups including a quarterback who hadn’t made an NFL start in five years.
The San Diego Chargers are one of the NFL’s hottest teams, and were fighting for their playoff lives. The results of this apparent mismatch were nothing short of stunning. The Chiefs backups took the Chargers to the very limits of their playoff existence and beyond.
There are no moral victories in the NFL but it’s safe to say the Chiefs beat the Chargers on Sunday in every way imaginable except on the scoreboard. The defense got after Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, registering 3 sacks while maintaining consistent pressure on him most of the day.
The secondary stuck to the Charger receivers with a renewed tenacity we haven’t seen from Chief defensive backs for a while. The offensive line truly dominated the game for significant portions of the contest while running backs Knile Davis and Cyrus Gray gave us all hope that this team can endure injuries to key offensive play makers and still run its offense effectively.
Then there was Chase Daniel. Those of us who watched Daniel terrorize the opposition during his days at the University of Missouri knew what the Chiefs were getting when they signed Daniel, so it probably didn’t come as much of a surprise to see Daniel play like a poised, savvy veteran going 21 of 30 for 200 yards and a TD while producing a 99.3 QBR. He consistently found holes in the Charger defense with both his arm and his legs as though he hadn’t missed a beat in the five years since he last started a football game…5 years ago!
It is truly disappointing how the Chiefs lost this game but, the fact that the Chiefs showed the kind of character and tenacity on Sunday that was worthy of any teams’ best efforts, surely bodes well for the future. Sunday’s contest showed the Chiefs have quality depth on the roster, that the front office has done a fantastic job of identifying talent, and that the Chiefs coaching staff, led by Andy Reid, have done a masterful job at developing that talent.
Perhaps most importantly, there was no second-guessing in the press between the players, coaches, and staff before or after the game. If there was disagreement at all, we certainly didn’t hear about it.
Unlike the recent past, what we saw instead was a unified front from players, staff, and management, on every count concerning this game (and in truth, throughout this season), which is an absolutely essential element to ultimate success for any organization. So, what does it all mean?
It means the Chiefs have the right leadership both on and off the field for the next several years. It means the Chiefs have the talent to be competitive both now and in the future. This game also means Arrowhead is on the cusp of becoming a very familiar venue for NFL playoff games in the future and it means the Chiefs have finally struck gold in hiring a coach/general manager team that can lead the franchise into the future.
Are the Chiefs still short a few players in key spots? Sure, but I am now ready to drink the Kool-Aid and trust in the Dorsey/Reid team to fill those holes.
It was just one game to be sure, and the Chiefs did lose the game, but this game was a milestone. What it said about the character and commitment of players, coaches, and front-office spoke volumes and Chiefs fans will look back on this game as being far more significant to the fate of the franchise going forward than the final score may indicate. Go Chiefs!