From Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
If in three weeks the Chiefs are celebrating as the 2010 AFC West champion then what happened on this sunny southern California afternoon will be forgotten.
Should they stumble and fall over the next three weeks and end up on the outside and looking in at the AFC playoffs, then they will be able to point to what happened against the Chargers as the moment where everything went to pot.
NFL teams have bad days. Even good teams sometimes struggle on any given Sunday.
But good teams do not go out and get run over with so much on the line. The media horde has pestered Todd Haley for months to say the Chiefs are a good football team. He’s refused. Turns out he knows best.
A good team can lose a game to San Diego in a similar situation. But a good team does not get punked the way the Chiefs were destroyed by the Chargers. This was familiar territory for San Diego; they’ve won four straight division titles, five in the last six years and December has always been their month.
The Chiefs wandered around on the grass surface at Qualcomm like they were lost at the mall while Christmas shopping with Mom. When you can list a team’s game highlights on a single hand and have fingers left over, it tells you it was a bad afternoon.
Oh, so bad.
“We need to evaluate what happened,” said head coach Todd Haley. “I knew coming in we were playing a good team and we had to play our best football and we clearly did not. If you don’t play your best football against a team like that, that’s the result you are going to get.”
The Chiefs were so far out of this game that in the fourth quarter, Haley and his coaches were already dissecting the game the their team’s problems on the headsets. There was certainly plenty of time to do that because there wasn’t a chance in the world that the Chiefs were going to get back in the game.
But it remains just a single snapshot in the scrapbook of the 2010 season. There will be a lot of talk on the plane ride home and then tomorrow at Chiefs HQ about what happened. Then, it must be put aside, or so say two of the most veteran players on the team.
“It doesn’t matter as of tomorrow afternoon when we get done going through the tape,” said LG Brian Waters. “We have to forget this. It’s one game. If we carry this one forward, then we don’t have a chance in the last three games. There’s a lot left that we can accomplish, but it has no chance if we wallow around in this game.
Said RB Thomas Jones: “You watch the film; you make the corrections and then go forward. You have to have a short memory. We have a big game next week and we have to win that one. We have a lot of guys in here that are resilient and hate to lose. I know most of the guys can’t wait to get back to practice.”
In practice, the guys on the other side of the line of scrimmage don’t beat you to a pulp the way the Chargers banished the Chiefs. San Diego controlled the line of scrimmage so well Homeland Security should consider moving them about 20 miles down the freeway to the border with Mexico.
That’s a pride buster that’s hard to forget. They must, because even with the beating, everything they wanted to do remains ahead of them. If they win three, they are division champs.
“It’s a team loss that we have to learn from and bounce back from, but bounce back with a greater sense of urgency and intensity about how we are doing things, so we can become a good team,” said Haley.
“We’ve shown the ability to bounce back. But this will be the most devastating loss to date. Those others were all forgotten because we found a way to come back. What we need to do is take this devastating loss and take it as a catalyst to make ourselves better for these last three games. If we do that, we’ll have the chance to be a good team.”
On this Sunday, they were not a good team. But the sun comes up tomorrow and the train continues on. For them to stay on board, they must forget.