Last night was a big game for a lot of reasons.
First game in the newly renovated Arrowhead.
First MNF in 4 years, first time ever opening the season on MNF in Chiefs' history.
The one home game you get against the division champ Chargers.
I thought that if the Chiefs couldn't win last night, in a perfect storm (excited home crowd, Chargers start slowly and missing key players) that there's no way they could keep up with teams like the Chargers throughout the season. This was a litmus test, no doubt about it.
Coming into the game, I thought that Kansas City had a decent chance to win. But I thought it would take a good performance on offense, great performance on defense, and getting a big play on special teams or a turnover, and a lucky break or two.
I didn't think there was a way to beat the Chargers by getting a poor performance on offense.
Here's what we know:
The Chargers are a better team than the Chiefs.
The Chiefs' offense didn't do anything to deserve a win.
So how'd they do it?
They had 3 big plays, and got touchdowns out of all 3.
1. Down 0-7, Charles ZOOMS behind the left guard for 56 yards, spinning the safety around in the open field.
2. Tied 7-7, Derrick Johnson RIPS the ball away from Mathews, giving Kansas City the ball at the SD 12.
3. Up 14-7, McCluster catches a punt on his own 6 and BREAKS it all the way. (longest in KC history, breaking Dante's 93-yard record vs Denver)
Sure, but Hoagie Central takes you deeper.
Sproles had 5 punt returns with an average of 6 yards on the return.
Arenas had 2 punt returns with an average of 30 yards, McCluster 3 returns, average of 33 yards.
Chargers yards: 389. Chiefs yards: 197. But Chiefs had 0 turnovers, Chargers 1. Chiefs had only 3 penalties, Chargers 5. Red Zone: Chiefs 1/1, Chargers 1/2. Cassel sacked once, Rivers twice.
Chiefs a miserable 1/11 on 3rd down, but Chargers only 4/15, and only 1/3 on 4th down.
Okay, but Hoagie Central takes you deeper.
The Chargers had 13 possessions. How did they only get 14 points?
Punt - KC 20
Touchdown - Gates
Punt - SD 32
Punt - KC 41
Fumble - SD 12
Punt - KC 33
Punt - return TD
Punt - KC 29
Punt - KC 20
Punt - KC 20
Touchdown - Nanee
Turnover on downs
Turnover on downs
The Chargers scored on 2/13.
The Chiefs defense & special teams scored/set up scores on 2 of the Chargers 13 possessions.
11 times the Chiefs forced the Chargers to fumble, punt, or late in the game held on 4th down. And look at that field position. The defense & special teams fueled the offense, and they still sputtered with 3 and outs. But it was enough.
But enough stats. Let's hand out some goddamn game balls.
Honorable Mention: The Crowd at New Arrowhead
The announcers wouldn't shut up about how electric it was inside the stadium. Which is all fine and dandy. But when it's so loud that the Chargers get 3 delay of game penalties, and burn an early timeout, that's when the crowd is helping you win football games.
Honorable Mention: The Rain
I can't believe the announcers didn't mention how the weather impacted the game. At kickoff it was dry and the Chargers took an early 7-0 lead. The rain started coming down and Charles gets past falling defenders. The defense rips the ball out, and McCluster races by slipping defenders. Credit to the equipment manager, the Chiefs weren't falling nearly as much as San Diego. It also hindered the passing attack of the Chargers, and while it might explain Cassel's throws, it didn't hurt our running attack. It dried up in the 4th, and the Chargers get another touchdown. But then I did a rain dance in Burnsy's apartment and on the final play of the game, the rain was back and the open receiver slipped. KC +21 when wet, SD +14 when dry.
#3: Jamaal Charles
You had 11 carries, the same as Thomas Jones who got the start. But you made the most of yours. We needed a spark on offense and you made it happen.
#2: The Rookie Class, especially McCluster
Arenas had two great punt returns and played solid defense. McCluster had the big return TD and some crucial screen passes. Moeaki caught some key passes including the TD set up by the Mathews fumble. The one player that looked like a rookie at times, was the #1 pick Berry. But Gates does that to everyone. He held his own for the most part. For what it's worth, McCluster had the winning points, in the 2nd quarter.
#1: Romeo's Defense, especially Derrick Johnson
The forced fumble was crucial, but overall the defense won the game. Two huge fourth down stands, more sacks than we allowed, hardly any penalties, only one big play given up. I'll take a team built around a solid defense any day.
- - -
You know, as good as this looks...
...last night wasn't about a win that ignites a march to the playoffs.
Last night was good enough on it's own. A better, more established team came into our house on national TV and we played well enough for 60 minutes, offense, defense, special teams, coaching, to send 70,000 in red and gold home with a smile on their face.