From Arrowhead Stadium
Every week head coach Todd Haley selects a sixth captain for the game. There are five permanent captains and then the coach’s choice. A lot of thought goes into Haley’s pick each week, because he believes it’s quite an honor for any player to represent his team.
For Sunday’s day after Christmas game, Haley picked SS Eric Berry. Why No. 29? Well, there was the Tennessee connection with the Titans playing in the same state as Berry’s alma mater at the University of Tennessee. Then, there was the fact that Haley had not yet selected a rookie for the designation.
“We haven’t had a young guy and these guys are not rookies anymore,” said Haley. “We’ve taken that label off them. It’s a big honor for those guys that we give it too.”
Haley’s picking prowess showed itself as Berry went out and got his first NFL touchdown, taking back an interception 54 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. It helped the Chiefs build a big first-half lead and they cruised to a 34-14 victory over the Titans.
“I think pressure definitely made that play,” Berry said of the throw from Titans QB Kerry Collins that was affected by the Chiefs pass rush. “The D-line got some pressure. Right after they caused the pressure, they turned around and started blocking. I just followed them. They always tell me to follow them when I get an interception, so that’s what I did. After I caught it, my offensive instincts clicked in and I went to the house.”
Berry did not run into the end zone â€“ he leaped head-first like he was jumping into a swimming pool.
“It was just spur of the moment,” Berry said. “I just kind of dove in there. I wish I didn’t do it. The end zone felt like a tennis court.”
It was an active game for Berry. He was around the line of scrimmage a lot, as the Chiefs worked to limit the running lanes for Tennessee RB Chris Johnson. He also got a chance to rush the passer, something that is popping up more and more in the Romeo Crennel defense.
“We did a lot of it this week,” said Berry. “I like going after the quarterback. We got some pressure on the quarterback and got him kind of rattled.”
Before the game, it was Berry and his fellow rookie safety Kendrick Lewis that were in the locker room, firing up the team emotionally. Or, that’s what veteran WR Chris Chambers said.
“This late in the year is the time when the veterans are supposed to be carrying the young guys through the season,” said Chambers. “These young guys are carrying us. They really got us fired up.”
Said Berry: “Me and Kendrick, we are pretty vocal; we love this game. We are very enthusiastic. We are not going to hold it in. We have something to say and we were going to say it. We just wanted to get the energy up and I guess it worked.”