A Very Different Feeling … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

Rookie G Jon Asamoah knew something was different within moments after walking into the Chiefs locker room on Monday morning.

“There as just this feeling that wasn’t there on other Mondays,” Asamoah said. “You could sense it, there was more intensity.”

It didn’t take Asamoah long to find out what was different, what that feeling was – it’s the NFL playoffs.

There were 22 players in the Chiefs locker room who knew what to expect this week.

But that left 31 others, plus nine more on the practice squad, 40 players in all who felt the difference on Monday, but didn’t know why.

They do now.

“In practice, in the film room, in here (locker room), the intensity is increased,” said rookie S Kendrick Lewis. “There’s a sense of urgency. You know this is a big game. The intensity level has picked up big around here.

“You hear about how important it is, but this week you can feel it and sense it, this is serious and you have to put your mindset on this as win or die, win or go home, so you had better give it all you got.”

The intensity that comes with the NFL playoffs creates a tight rope that players, coaches and teams must totter on and try not to fall. There’s one foot on the intense nature of win or done, and another foot on the reality that 60 minutes of football is 60 minutes of football, whether played in September or January.

But there’s no sense in trying to sell this week’s action as just another game. Nobody’s buying that, whether they have experience in the post-season or not.

“It’s football, that doesn’t change,” said RG Ryan Lilja, one of the most experienced players on the roster when it comes to the post-season thanks to his time with the Colts. “But the stakes change. There’s more on the game because if you lose, it’s over.”

The finality of a loss in the playoffs is something that some players, even some teams never recover from. The investment of blood, sweat and tears is so steep that when there’s no payoff in victories and championships, it burns disappointment into the memory banks that no bit of rebooting can erase.

Ask Hall of Fame QB Len Dawson. He owns a Super Bowl ring and was named MVP of Super IV, but the memory that never leaves him is the Chiefs famous double-overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins on Christmas Day 1971 at Kansas City’s old Municipal Stadium.

“There isn’t a day where that game doesn’t come into my mind,” Dawson said. “I think that was the best team I played on. To have the season end like that … it’s just not something that goes away.”

It’s the same with coaches too. With two minutes to play, Todd Haley and the Arizona Cardinals were leading the Super Bowl over heavily favored Pittsburgh. As the Cardinals offensive coordinator, Haley played a bit of possum over the first three quarters with a conservative game plan. But in the fourth quarter Haley opened up the game plan and QB Kurt Warner started connecting with WR Larry Fitzgerald and Arizona had the lead.

But the Steelers drove down the field and scored the game winning touchdown and Haley still hasn’t recovered. “I have some vivid memories of flights home after agonizing defeats,” Haley said.

“The regular season no longer matters – all this quarters of the season and we’re 2-2 or 3-1 in the quarter and now we’re starting over, it is a clean slate and it’s different than the regular season. If you don’t win, you’re done, and the end comes fast. I say that from experience because you assume you’re going to keep playing and when the game doesn’t go the way you want it to go, it’s a harsh, quick end and hard to deal with.”

So the work increases. Haley and QB Matt Cassel said there were a season high number of players in the building on Tuesday, the team’s day off. They were there to look at tape and get a jump on understanding who and what the Baltimore Ravens were about.

“The receivers group came in on their own and watched film together,” Cassel said. “The tight ends group, the running backs group, the quarterback groups which is normally in here. But you just saw all these groups come in and watch film together, and they’re trying to get a head start, and that’s great to see. I think that’s what we need. We have to increase the intensity this week. And everybody understands the implications of what Sunday is.

“It’s playoff time. There are only so many teams that get into the playoffs every year. We’re excited to be one of those teams.”

The tightrope comes with balancing the extra preparation and the higher stakes with making sure those without post-season experience don’t suddenly feel like they have to give more on the field, which can get them in trouble.

“The give more has got to stay within the preparation,” said Haley. “You don’t want paralysis by analysis, you just need to know your opponent, and this is a team we haven’t seen at all this year obviously and you’ve got to get to know your opponent so that you can go out on Sunday and play fast because the tempo and level of play will go up.

“Everybody that’s been there has seen it, there will be a little more adrenaline, a little more crowd energy, all those things, and so things will step up so you’ve got to be prepared so that you can go out there and play fast without a lot of thinking involved or with less thinking so you can play fast.”

It’s all an equation that the younger Chiefs have come to understand quickly thanks to veterans like OLB Mike Vrabel.

“You’re tired, you’re sore and it’s been a long time since August,” said Vrabel, who will play in his 20th post-season game on Sunday. “But there’s a little more electricity because it’s the playoffs. It’s extra time in preparation, because you don’t want to leave anything to chance.

“It’s intense, but it’s why you play.”


The National Weather Service forecast for Sunday now includes a chance of snow.

The NWS says there’s a 30 percent chance of precipitation and that will come as the white stuff because the high temperature for Sunday is expected to be 28 or 29 degrees.

There have been six previous post-season games played in Kansas City, and the weather has ranged the gauntlet of what can happen in the Midwest in late December and early January. The warmest game was Christmas Day 1971, when it was 63 degrees at the 3:05 kickoff. The last post-season game played in K.C. was in January 2003 and for the noon kickoff it was 51 degrees.

But in 1995, the actual temperature was 11 degrees and the wind chill made it feel like minus-9 degrees at the 3:01 p.m. kickoff. That was the coldest played in K.C. game in the playoffs


While the Chiefs are dealing with a stomach virus, the Ravens have more typical football injuries they have dealt with this week. On Thursday, FS Ed Reed and C Matt Birk returned to practice after not working on Wednesday. Reed bruised his ribs while returning an interception last Sunday. Birk has a sore knee.

Not practicing for the second day in a row according to the Ravens were DT Haloti Ngata and OLB Terrell Suggs. It’s a thigh for Ngata and a knee for Suggs. It’s hard to believe either man will miss Sunday’s game, but if that should happen, it will only help the Chiefs.

Two other starters on the Ravens defense were limited in Thursday’s practice: LB Jameel McClain and CB Josh Wilson. With McClain it’s his back and Wilson has a head injury of some type.


  • AFC – named Chiefs S Eric Berry rookie of the month; named Patriots QB Tom Brady offensive player of the month; named Ravens S Ed Reed defensive player of the month; named Jets returner Brad Smith special teams player of the month.
  • NFC – named Buccaneers RB LeGarrette Blount rookie of the month, named Packers QB Aaron Rodgers offensive player of the month; named Bears LB Brian Urlacher defensive player of the month; named Falcons returner Eric Weems special teams player of the month.
  • BRONCOS – signed reserve/futures contracts with FB Mike McLaughlin, G Shawn Murphy, G Manuel Ramirez and OT Herb Taylor.
  • CARDINALS – fired defensive coordinator Bill Davis.
  • CHARGERS – signed reserve/futures contracts with LB J Leman, WR Bryan Walters, OL Nic Richmond, OL Eric Young, OL Ryan Otterson and CB Traye Simmons.
  • COWBOYS – made Jason Garrett head coach with a 4-year contract.
  • SEAHAWKS – named Matt Hasselbeck starting QB for game against the Saints.

5 Responses to “A Very Different Feeling … Friday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • January 7, 2011  - James says:

    I hope the Chief’s put forth a good effort on Sunday. Win lose or draw I’ll be a Chief’s fan until the day I die. There’s still a lot of work to be done on improving this team but their headed in the right direction. Thanks Bob for the information you’ve provided. There was a time I wasn’t one of your fans but I’m coming around. You know some football. Go Chiefs.

  • January 7, 2011  - gorillafan says:

    I hope I dont freeze my ass off to watch a show like last week. But all season this team bounced back after a bad loss, so I expect the same this time!!

    No one has talked about it, but I hope we can actually fill the freakn seat for a playoff game…

    And freakin ESPN pisses me off on never showing anything of the Chiefs…..UGH

    k, im done with my rant, cant wait till sunday!!!

  • January 7, 2011  - el cid says:

    Got to say ESPN and NFL Channel has been pretty positive about the Chiefs. They love Charles, overly fond of T Jones, coaches, and Arrowhead. Not to sure about Cassel, a pro QB but the dictionary picture of a QB, they seem to be looking for that “carry everthing on my shoulders” type. They doubt the Chiefs defense is any kind of end all. But they uniformly say the Chiefs “can” win. Maybe it is all hype, not sure.

    Gorillafan, better wear layers. If the Chiefs can fire you up, you can take some off. If not, a long walk to the car.

  • January 7, 2011  - jim says:

    After talking with family in KC, I can tell you that there is ‘electricity in the city’, big time. People who haven’t been to a game this year are trying to find tickets, and past season ticket holder who have ‘skipped tickets’ for the last couple years, ar lining up to be ticket holders again.

    I don’t think you’ll have much to wory about in the energy level department with the Chiefs. I think that’ll be there. Hope our talent and great game planning can get the job done.

    Regardless, WHAT A SEASON.

  • January 8, 2011  - Jonathan says:

    I feel confident about the CHiefs’ chances on Sunday and beleive they will come away with a victory. They just need to stay within themselves and not be intimidated. Kansas City bounces back after a bad performance and they will put the Oakland game behind them.

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