Game Story: Despite Improvement, Another “L”

From Arrowhead Stadium

When coaches, players, media and fans constantly say “the Chiefs need to learn how to win” it gets tiresome. But the 2010 Chiefs proved Friday night that while it might be overused and aggravating, it’s so true.

With a victory in their hand, all the Chiefs No. 3 defense had to do was top the Philadelphia Eagles No. 3 offense one final time. Philly started the possession with two minutes to play, and the ball at its 20-yard line. Plus they had no timeouts.

Eight plays, 80 yards and 101 seconds later, rookie QB Mike Kafka found rookie WR Riley Cooper in the end zone for an 18-yard TD pass with 23 seconds to play. It was the deciding moment of the Eagles 20-17 victory over the Chiefs.

“I feel like that’s the way our games are going to be for a little while,” said head coach Todd Haley. “We are team that hasn’t won a lot of games over the last few years. We are making this transition into becoming a good team and that’s the way the games are going to be.

“I don’t think there are going to be many pretty ones. It’s still going to come down to the team that plays the best will win.”

That was true Friday night before a sparse crowd at the new Arrowhead Stadium. Ultimately, the Eagles made enough plays to win the game. They did it at the start of the game, and then later at the end of the game.

What gave the Chiefs hope is what happened in between, when the defense put on its best performance of the preseason and the starters left the field with a 14-10 lead.

“I was really proud of the team and how they bounced back,” said QB Matt Cassel. “We had about as bad a start to a game as you can have, but we got ourselves back in and eventually got the lead.”

It was defense that got that done. After two pre-season games without a sack or a takeaway, the Chiefs defense managed plenty of sacks and an important interception. They contained all the big playmakers of the Philly offense and harassed QB Kevin Kolb all night.

“Our defense continued played stingy, tough, physical defense,” said Haley. “They got us the ball back on the interception and we put points on the board. That’s what you’ve got to do.

“At the end of the game, we just need to continue to play the techniques that you have to do to win in the league. We didn’t get that done.”

The game could not have started any worse for the Chiefs. They won the toss and elected to take the kickoff and after a 20-yard return by Javier Arenas, they started their possession at the 24-yard line.

But on the first play, the exchange between Cassel and RB Jamaal Charles was not clean, and the ball popped out. It was recovered by Philadelphia’s Trent Cole and the Eagles had a gift at the Chiefs 22-yard line.

Philly needed just two plays to score. In a touchdown run that was so reminiscent of many the Chiefs gave up last year when they finished 31st in the league against the run, LeSean McCoy hit the hole between center and left guard, made one move and went 18 yards into the end zone. The only K.C. defender that touched him was OLB Tamba Hali, but that was when McCoy was already in the end zone.

The PAT kick from David Akers gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead and not even a minute had ticked off the game clock.

On their next possession, there was another Chiefs fumble, as a scrambling Cassel lost the ball. In this case it was recovered by OT Barry Richardson and it ended up being a sack for no lost yardage in the stat book.

The next time the Chiefs got the ball, more problems. A Cassel pass for TE Tony Moeaki was tipped into the air and intercepted by CB Trevard Lindley and the Eagles had the ball again at their 32-yard line.

From there, Kolb marched them on a 16-play, 47-yard possession and used 7 minutes, 44 seconds of the first quarter clock. They had a 1st-and-10 at the Chiefs 17-yard line, but ended up coming backwards as they picked up a false start penalty.

Eventually, Akers came on and kicked a 39-yard field goal and the Chiefs trailed 10-0, and it was still the first quarter.

It was five minutes into the second quarter before they got their feet under them. And they got some help from the Eagles. The Chiefs were lined up to punt the ball away on a 4th-and-2 play at their 45-yard line when a flag flew. The call was against Philadelphia for delay of game – the Eagles gunner on the Chiefs side of the field was flinching, trying to draw a false start. After the third time he did it, the official threw the flag and made the call.

“That was a big play for us,” said Haley. “You’ve got to take advantage of whatever opportunities you get and we did with that one.”

With a first down at midfield, Cassel kept the drive going until it turned into a 16-play, 63-yard drive that ended up with a four-yard TD pass to WR Dwayne Bowe. The PAT kick by Ryan Succop cut Philly’s lead to 10-7.

It stayed that way until there were less than five minutes to play in the third quarter. Kolb faced intense pass rush pressure, stepped up in the pocket and heaved the ball down the field. That’s where rookie FS Kendrick Lewis went up and got the ball, pulling it down and returning it 26 yards and giving the Chiefs a first down at the Eagles 26-yard line.

The takeaway set up an 11-yard touchdown run by RB Thomas Jones and after Succop’s PAT kick, the Chiefs led 14-10 with 4:42 to play in the quarter.

The Eagles put together a 10-play drive that ended with a 27-yard FG by Akers. In the drive, Chiefs rookie LB Cameron Sheffield was injured. Just as happened last week in Tampa with CB Maurice Leggett, Sheffield was strapped to a body board and taken off the field on a cart with some sort of neck injury.

After the game, the Chiefs had no more information on his situation.

In the fourth quarter, leading 14-13, the Chiefs put together a nice drive on the back of RB Jackie Battle. With Tyler Palko at quarterback, Battle ran for 21, 5, 7, 1, 3 and 4 yards before the drive stalled. Succop came in and kicked a 43-yard FG and the Chiefs had a four-point lead at 17-13 with 2:04 to play in the game.

Kafka was sensational in the last two minutes, completing six of seven passes for 65 yards, and adding five yards on a scramble out of bounds. He moved the Eagles offense 80 yards, without a timeout, getting off the final three plays of the drive in 31 seconds without the clock stopping.

The Chiefs had one more shot, as McCluster had a nice kickoff return of 37 yards. But as WR Lance Long made a nice deep catch, time ran out.

17 Responses to “Game Story: Despite Improvement, Another “L””

  • August 28, 2010  - MarkInTexas says:

    Great recap. I do think the crowd was a bit better than “sparse”, and got pretty vocal during some of the defensive stands. A respectable showing by the fans given preseason and the lack of return on investment in recent times. The rookie class has some playmakers that can be electric. Finally, a shout out to Studebaker. He looks like a solid, acsending player.

  • August 28, 2010  - Brad says:

    What is sparse? Half full?

  • August 28, 2010  - MarkInTexas says:

    I’ll admit that my crowd guesstimation skills could have been dulled by the pregame Gates BBQ and Sam Adams brew. Nevertheless, I’d put the crowd at 70% of capacity.

  • August 28, 2010  - Edward says:

    I could care less if we would have won or lost the game it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that we beat San Diego week 1. No one is going to remember this lost. The only important thing as a fan that I wanted to see from this game was how our starter looked against their starters for about 2 and 1/2 quarteres. And we looked pretty darn impressive. Their is no question in my mind if we played our starters the whole game against their starters we would have won the game. At the end of the day who cares we answered alot of questions that matters in terms of how we will play on Monday Night.

    1. We proved we can sack the quarterback and get pressure. Studebaker got after it and big props to Super Mario (Demarrio Williams) he had 2 sacks tonight and was all over the field almost had a pick.

    2. Can we overcome adversity or will we just hang our heads and say here we go again. After Charles opening fumble the team didn’t hang their heads they kept fighting and got back into the game. That bodes well going into the season against the Chargers. Seeing that its Monday Night Football its bound to be some peaks and valleys in that game but we proved tonight we’re a battle tested team and can withstand some adversity.

    3. Offensive line proved it can protect the quarterback. Cassell was pressured a couple times tonight but for the most part he had time to throw the football. That was a concern for me because I feel like we’ll have one of the top 5 rushing teams in the league, receivers will catch the football and not have nearly as many drops this yr. But that performance against Falcons wasn’t good and gave me concerns about will Cassell have time to get Mcluster, Chambers, or Bowe the ball downfield. Cassell had some nice throws tonight did great job getting Bowe involved.

    All in all I’m ready for the season this team is going shock the so called experts.

  • August 28, 2010  - el cid says:

    Interesting game, all in all. Just goes to show even with two years (almost) of new GM and Head Coach, the Chiefs are not very good (no one is picking Philly to be dominate in ’10). Not sure if it is a case of how bare the cupboard was or the way the new brain trust “chose” to put together their version of the Chiefs. But a watchable game.

  • August 28, 2010  - Edward says:

    el cid you still with the negativity. No Philly not going to be world beaters. But their not going to be picking in the top 5 of next year’s draft either. This is the same team that scorched us last yr. And when I say the same team its the same team. Kolb had his coming out party against us. So for us to be not only hanging in there with them this yr but winning the game when our starter was in there. That shows me we’re alot better team than even you give credit.

  • August 28, 2010  - Edward says:

    And keep in mind we played good against Atlanta as well when starters was on the field. And trust me Falcons are a title contender this season.

  • August 28, 2010  - Tracy says:

    The first five minutes were a real letdown although it might have been a case of the jitters; the last two minutes were a sad reminder of frustrations of seasons past. The rest of the game they showed tenacity and a rousing defense.

    There is promise here. It appears the team has confidence but not a real killer instinct yet. They are not quitters.

    How much bigger is Andy Studebaker now than last year?

    Cameron Sheffield’s college coach had a lot of good things to say about him when interviewed on The Program. Let’s hope he can reach his potential.

  • August 28, 2010  - Butler says:

    We have got to stop losing games in the last five minutes of play PERIOD we are way better than that
    I agree its preseason but you should still PLAY TO WIN THE GAME !!!!!
    The definition of Sparse is the number of Chiefs Wins.
    We did play a lot better defense good job.
    Now its Bad News for the Cheese Heads !!!!!!!

  • August 28, 2010  - el cid says:

    Edward is a very young team, Waters, Vrabel, etal are all gray beards by comparison. Also, Stan Webber, some kind of sports “expert”, said yesterday, he saw our GM and Mr Pioli felt pleased with what he has done with the Chiefs so far. His “vision” had nothing to do with the 2010 season, but some distant future. That is not for me. My future is today or at least 2011. There is just not enough success in building a better team. ’09 was a waste when the K is the best you can do, ’10 team speed with at least 3 starters was great but how long will it take to get 53 right guys at that rate??

    Just saying 6-7 wins this year, i had hoped for 8 but do not see it. Like what Crennel has done so far but Weis need to do more or find some more success somewhere with what we have in players.

  • August 28, 2010  - el cid says:

    Sorry Change edward to Philly.

  • August 28, 2010  - Edward says:

    The Eagles and Packers are young teams too. Last I check both of those teams played good football last yr and got into the playoffs. I think this team looking at the weak schedule is capable of winning 9-10 games this yr. Especially if the o-line pass protect like they did last night. I feel comfortable with all the other aspects of the team pass protection is just my main concern. As for us losing game who cares like I said no one will remember this game when we beat San Diego on MNF. The one problem we have to solve before the season is turning the ball over. We have to stop giving the ball away.

  • August 28, 2010  - Tim says:

    I was encouraged by last night in many respects. We’re beginning to balance out the time of possession & thereby not exposing our D as much. Our return guys, primarily Arenas, are keeping us in better field position. A couple of observations:

    1. Studebaker is really coming on. They need to think about moving Vrabel inside in the base…not just in the nickle.
    2. I think DJ probably had the best, most aggressive hit of his career when he sniffed out that screen. I’ve never seen that type of aggression out of him before.
    3. Charles needs to be the #1 guy.
    4. Tyson Jackson played a little better, but this guy has zero explosion & gets collapsed way down in the middle too often on the pass rush thereby losing containment. His reps need to be curtailed ubtil he can demonstrate improvement.
    5. Won’t be long before Kendrick Lewis is opposite of Berry. I don’t care if a vet knows where to go because it doesn’t matter if he can’t get there…
    6. Bowe looked pretty good.

  • August 28, 2010  - RW says:

    I too was encouraged by the aggressive and more effective Chief’s defense. Those blitz packages dialed up by RAC had the Eagles and their QBs looking like the proverbial deer in the headlights. Well, a lot, but not most of the time, to be fair. Still, we take improvement where we see it, eh?

    Cassel and the QB adventures: After showing some crisp reads/releases the previous week, Cassel again tended to hold onto the ball too long on many occasions. If a QB is going deep, that could be explained away but all his stuff was short/medium range down and outs/ins or crossing pattern stuff. Even the batted down flea flicker wasn’t seeing him going deep.

    Mainly, Cassel needs to be more consistent. Last night he looked all the part of what he once was, a backup. The big story of the game for me was the Chief’s D showing some nasty attitude and effectiveness. Haven’t seen that in about a decade?

  • August 28, 2010  - Paul says:

    Sure I was dissapointed with the loss, but I have to say there were way too many positives that came out of this game for the Chiefs for me to feel disappointed about the “outcome” of the game. I feel a lot better about our team than after what happened in weeks one and two. Besides, it was our ‘C’ team defense that allowed the touchdown anyway. Most of those guys who allowed the last second touchdown won’t be on the field come Week 1 … hopefully anyway :) .

    Overall, I loved what I saw from our team against a contender. Cassel looks better and better as the weeks progress. The only thing that concerns me on the offensive side of the ball is how little the TE’s have been involved.

    Defensively I’d hate to be the coaches right now. Who do you stick in there at the MLB positions? Both combos do well and poorly at random times. I say just keep rotating those guys until somebody steps up and starts being consistent. Overall, the ‘D’ looks pretty good, too, I think. Berry, Lewis, and McGraw all look solid as well.

  • August 28, 2010  - Russell says:

    Agree! MNF Game HAS to be sucessful, even if we lose because of an official… We wont, the team knows it is crucial to set the tone for the year.
    If we know IT, the team right now is not looking past the 1st game–period, exclamation pt.

  • August 28, 2010  - Rick says:

    Ok i have been a big Cassel supporter but he needs consistency. Last week looks good this week looked confused. Didn’t stare off defenders and was just horrible. Held on to the ball way to long and missed some receivers and some throws were just horrible. A+++++++ to the hall of honor. That was incredible to go through and see everything!!!!! Crowd wasn’t sparse. I think late arriving becasue everyone was checking out the new stadium.

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News