From Arrowhead Stadium
“We went out there with something to prove.”
Those were the words of rookie FS Kendrick Lewis, who at this point of the season is anything but a rookie. But he was talking about the Chiefs defense and the pounding it took last Sunday in Denver, when they fell behind 21-0, thanks largely to the ability of the Broncos to throw the ball.
“This defense is capable of doing a lot of things,” said Lewis after the Chiefs 31-13 victory over Arizona. “We had a game where the defense didn’t play up to our standards. But we knew that was the case. We had full faith in this defense and this team to come out and prove that.”
It was a classic afternoon of bend-but-don’t break defense for the Chiefs. They gave up a lot of yards, but there was only one Arizona touchdown and that came on the final offensive play of the game.
“I don’t care about yards,” said head coach Todd Haley. “Defensively, we bent a little bit, but I could care less about yards and statistics. You can’t allow them to score points.”
The Cardinals are having a tough year, but that does not eliminate the presence of a couple of 1,000-yard receivers in their offensive attack. Few teams can put two receivers on the field that have put up more than 1,000 yards in a season at some point during their careers. The Cardinals have two â€“ Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston. Both of them did it back in Arizona’s Super Bowl season of 2008. Fitzgerald has done it three other times.
These guys are big play receivers, who can turn a five-yard throw into a 70-yard touchdown. To beat the Cardinals, they must be contained. That’s just what the Chiefs somewhat beleaguered pass defense did.
“Big explosive plays, they can kill you,” said Lewis. “It gives those guys momentum and it allows them to open up their playbook. Keep those guys contained, don’t let them loose. As long as you keep everything in front of you, they aren’t going to kill you with the big play.”
Arizona QB Derek Anderson threw for 295 yards and his leading receivers were Fitzgerald and Breaston were the favorite targets. Breaston caught five passes for 92 yards and Fitzgerald grabbed six for 90, including the Cardinals only TD, coming on the last offensive play of the game.
Fitzgerald’s longest completion was 24 yards, which he did twice. For Breaston it was 27 yards. The Chiefs defense did not allow either man to get behind them. They were helped by a swirling wind on the field that blew all day and caused some real problems for Anderson.
“There were some throws that â€¦ had some gusts,” Anderson said. “The ball was moving around. For the most part, the balls that were on target guys would corral them. They were moving and that’s something we don’t see.”
The Chiefs defensive backs also provided a pounding, as Arizona WR Early Doucet left the game with a concussion and Breaston left the game at one point with what looked like a sore shoulder or possibly a stinger. He did return to the game.
But there were none of the killer plays that the Cardinals receivers are so capable of producing. Even down to the final offensive snap of the game, the Chiefs defense was intent on keeping Arizona out of the end zone.
“It was something we definitely were talking about out there on the field,” said Lewis. “We knew they were trying to get No. 11 (Fitzgerald) a touchdown.”
Fitzgerald got the touchdown, but the Chiefs got the victory and they are now back on top of the AFC West with the Raiders getting beat by Pittsburgh.
“There’s going to be an X on our chest again,” Lewis said. “People are going to be gunning for us again. We’ve just got to build on this performance and keep getting better.”