Game Notes: The NFL’s Scoring Machine


From Reliant Stadium, Houston

Look at that picture above. Look at the smile on the face of OLB/TE Mike Vrabel. Yes, they may be mature men, or in the case of Vrabel a grizzled veteran of 14 NFL seasons. But they are still having fun, playing a game.

Vrabel caught the 10th touchdown pass of his career against the Texans on Sunday, catching a two-yard toss from QB Matt Cassel in the goal line offense. It was a pressure situation because it was a fourth down play and Cassel got flushed from the pocket.

But he found Vrabel waiting at the back of the end zone and the linebacker cradled the ball and fell to the ground.

Now get this – Vrabel became the first player that began his career after 1933 to have 10+ career receptions, all for TDs. Over his career, he has 12 catches in regular and post-season action, and all 12 were in the end zone. It was his second catch/touchdown for the Chiefs – Vrabel caught a one-yard pass from Cassel on October 11, 2009 against Dallas.

HUGE LOSS FOR TEXANS

Houston’s defensive leader DeMeco Ryans suffered a torn Achilles tendon during the game and is done for the season.

It came on the 17-yard TD pass from Cassel to WR Dwayne Bowe.

“I was planting go make a play on the ball,” said Ryans. “I was trying to jump up and I couldn’t push off my foot.

“It sucks. It’s the first time I’ve had to deal with something like this.”

His teammates feel the same way, about the suck part.

“We lost our captain today,” said LB Brian Cushing. “We’ve lost him for the season and any time something like that happens, it’s a blow to the team. It’s a blow to morale, but we have to play for him now. We have to step it up in a lot of ways on defense and we know that.”

THIRD-DOWN IMPROVEMENT WAS HUGE

Last Sunday against the Colts, the Chiefs were a miserable one of 10 on third down plays and that inability to convert killed the offense’s ability to stay on the field.

This past week, the Chiefs worked overtime on third downs and it paid off big time, as they converted nine of 16 attempts on third down or 56.3 percent. That easily their best performance of the year in that category and is the best of the 21 games played under head coach Todd Haley.

What helped was they were not faced with many 3rd-and-long situations. Only two of the 16 were for 10 yards or more and the Chiefs converted both of those. They had six third downs of three yards or less. The average was 5.4 yards for a first down.

ZEBRA REPORT

The referee for the game was Ron Winter and his crew is known for enjoying the look of yellow flags on the field. Overall they called nine penalties against the Chiefs.

But only five of those flags were accepted. Here’s how they break down:

  • Offense – RG Ryan Lilja five yards for a false start.
  • Offense – LB Brian Waters five yards for a false start.
  • Offense – Delay of game, five yards.
  • Special teams – LB Cory Greenwood 15-yard personal foul.
  • Special teams – CB Jackie Bates 5-yards for being offsides on a kickoff.

WR Dexter McCluster (illegal shift), C Casey Wiegmann (holding), DE Shaun Smith (holding) and CB Brian Flowers (pass interference) were declined.

There was one replay review, called by the booth in the last minute of the second quarter. It appeared that Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe had trapped a throw but after looking at the replay, Winter obviously did not find enough to change the call.

PERSONNEL FILE FOR CHIEFS-TEXANS

The inactive players for the Chiefs were FS Kendrick Lewis, FB Tim Castille, S Reshard Langford, LB Justin Cole, DE Alex Magee, OT Ryan O’Callaghan, WR Chris Chambers and DE Tyson Jackson.

Dressed and active for the first time in an NFL regular-season game was CB Jackie Bates. With the injuries involving Lewis and Langford, the coaches obviously felt they needed to have another defensive back in reserve. FB Mike Cox was active and played in his first game this season. Second-year S Donald Washington made his first NFL start, stepping in for the injured Lewis.

Right now, among the Chiefs 53 players, 50 have played in a game this season. The only ones who have not are QB Brodie Croyle, RT Ryan O’Callaghan and rookie LB Justin Cole.

With Chambers out, Terrance Copper was in the starting lineup for him, but most of his snaps went to Dexter McCluster.

For the Texans, they had on the inactive list WR Dorin Dickerson, CB Sherrick McManis, LB Darryl Sharpton, LB Xavier Adibi, LB Kevin Bentley, G Mike Brisiel and DE Jesse Nading.

Brisiel was the only Texans inactive player that had been in the starting lineup. He was replaced at right guard by Antoine Caldwell.

C Casey Wiegmann played in the 200th regular-season game of his career. The man next to him on his left, G Brian Waters started his 138th game with the Chiefs, moving ahead of LB Willie Lanier (137) and LB Jim Lynch (137) for 10th in team history.

EXTRA STUFF - Sacks went to NT Ron Edwards and Wallace Gilberry. Both have two sacks on the season … Ryan Succop made his only FG attempt, hitting from 24 yards. On his Chiefs career now, he’s made 33 of 37, for 89.2 percent … P Dustin Colquitt now has 424 career punts, moving into second place in career history with the Chiefs. He’s got a long way to go to catch the all-time leader Jerrel Wilson who over his 15-year career had 1,018 punts.

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