Column – A long, lingering painful victory

From Sports Authority Field, Denver

It may not hit some of them until Sunday, when they sit down to watch a second-day of the NFL playoffs. Others were feeling it even as they dressed after beating the Denver Broncos on this Sunday afternoon 7-3.

Even with the loss they slapped on Tim Tebow and his teammates in the orange and blue, the Broncos are going to the playoffs and will be hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers this coming weekend.

The Chiefs will be scattered around America, their season over. Disappointment will soon be overcome by anger, because the Chiefs should be the team hosting the Steelers.

After everything that happened to this team through the first 14 weeks of the season, they had a chance on Christmas Eve to put themselves in a position to beat the Broncos and win their way into the playoffs.

Thanks to Oakland choking away its chance to win the division by losing at home to San Diego, Denver went into the playoffs through the back door.

And the Chiefs are the team that propped that door open for them.

“We wrapped it up in a nice package with a bow on it,” DE Wallace Gilberry said after the game. “They even lose to us and they still make it. Damn.”

Damn alright. As more and more Chiefs talked about what happened at the end of this 2011 season, the more they realized how close they were and how the team they had just controlled would be the new AFC West champs, replacing the Chiefs on the division throne.

“It stings right now, it really does,” said LB Derrick Johnson. “It’s going to sting for awhile. We walk out of here knowing we beat all three teams in the division, and we got two of those on the road and the defense gave up a total of 3 points in those two games (they beat the Raiders in Oakland 28-0.)”

Woulda, coulda, shoulda – those words will drive you crazy if they come into conversation on a regular basis. “I can’t do that because it will drive you nuts,” said DL Amon Gordon. “I give credit to the Broncos. They found a way to get there.”

You are what you are, and the Chiefs are a sub-.500 team that could easily have been a 9-7 team and division champs for the second year in a row.

Winning in the NFL is not easy. Teams that roar out like the Packers with 15 victories this year and the Patriots a couple years ago with 16 and a perfect regular season, those are far from the norm.

What goes down in the NFL is exactly what has happened with this 2011 season. There are 12 of the league’s 32 teams that finished the season with a winning record. Another eight ended the season with 8-8 records. That leaves 12 other teams joining the Chiefs with a losing record. Funny how it all balances out in the end.

The Broncos don’t exactly go roaring into the playoffs with a lot of momentum. After winning six in a row, they’ve now lost three straight, falling by 18 to New England, 26 to Buffalo and four points to the Chiefs.

No they are sprinting into the post-season, but they are going. They will be there next weekend and while they will be heavy underdogs to the Steelers, anything can happen for a team in the tournament.

A team must get there. Sitting at home provides no relief, no advantage for now or the future. When the chance to seize the opportunity comes, it must be grabbed.

There were too many times in this 2011 season where the Chiefs didn’t clamp down on the chances within their grasp. Losing by three points at San Diego and by seven points to Denver at home are a couple examples.

The biggest was on Christmas Eve, where the Chiefs gave the Raiders life and the Broncos a challenge and neither one could do anything with them.

“They don’t have much momentum going into the playoffs, do they?” OLB Tamba Hali said. “That won’t matter come when they play. They’ll make new momentum. I think that’s what good teams do, the ones that make the playoffs all the time. They don’t ever sit still or take it for granted; they chase it just as hard as they did 10 years before.

“The idea is to make the playoffs. Back door doesn’t mean anything. They could come out the front door next weekend and shock the world. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.”

Yes, the Broncos will get that chance and whether they can stir up a little post-season magic or not, remains to be seen.

But they will have the chance. The Chiefs won’t, and that pain won’t go away any time soon.

6 Responses to “Column – A long, lingering painful victory”

  • January 2, 2012  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Nor our pain as loyal fans. It’ll be a long off-season. Hopefully the ship will be righted and we’ll head into next season with some momentum.

  • January 2, 2012  - Chiefs Close Out Season By Beating Broncos : says:

    [...] COLUMN – A painful way to end the season. [...]

  • January 2, 2012  - chewbone says:

    If you point to one player that kept the chiefs out of the playoffs it was Richard Seymour with his 2 blocked FG’s.

    If you point to one player that helped them get close it was Rivers with that hard to believe fumbled snap.

  • January 2, 2012  - Bobber says:

    Just block for 2 field goals against the Raiders. Jeez.

  • January 2, 2012  - Paul says:

    or just block for one of the field goals and we either win at the end of regulation or in OT!

  • January 2, 2012  - cychief24 says:

    Or, Orton doesn’t throw a pick in the end zone and another in the red zone, and fish-flops on a crucial 3rd down, or he reports right away before Thanksgiving and is ready to start vs. Bears.

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