From Arrowhead Stadium
If we looked closely at the Haley family tree it seems probably that the Chiefs head coach is related in some manner the famous Flying Wallendas.
Don’t know the Wallendas? They were the family of tightrope walkers who were famous in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s for strolling along high wires without nets and doing what seemed impossible. They were part of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus for many years.
Todd “Wallenda” Haley is doing the same thing in the football circus. He again made a fourth down decision in Sunday’s victory over the Bills where he left himself without a net. Luckily for him, his team was eventually able to overcome the decision and still win the game.
Setting the scene: it’s early in the second quarter and neither team has scored a point. The Chiefs have the ball at the Buffalo 19-yard line and its 4th-and-2 for the Chiefs. The coaching book says it’s a situation where the team with the ball kicks the field goal. It would have been a 37-yard effort for Chiefs K Ryan Succop and it would have been kicked towards the west uprights. On a windy day at Arrowhead, there was less wind at that end of the stadium.
But Haley has his own book when it comes to fourth down. Invariably, if the ball is on the opponents’ side of the 50-yard line and it’s in the first half, he’s going for the first down.
This time, it did not work. QB Matt Cassel was sacked for a one-yard loss and the Bills took over at their 20-yard line.
Not only did they not get three points, but they gave up 53 yards of field position. Buffalo went three plays and out and P Brian Moorman’s kick went 56 yards and out of bounds at the Chiefs 27-yard line. That’s some of the hidden yardage that Haley often talks about in games.
There was another factor in this decision by Haley and that was the wind.
“I thought today, there was a pretty significant wind clearly making kicks difficult throughout the game,” said Haley. “The wind today was interesting because it was coming from the opposite direction of what it normally does; going a certain direction is something that we were a little more concerned about.”
Ultimately, if everything else remaining the same, the Chiefs would have had a three-point lead at the end of the game and the interception by SS Eric Berry would have sent everyone in red and gold home happy in regulation time.
Instead, they had to play through an entire overtime before Succop got a chance to kick the game winning field goal.
That wasn’t the only fourth down that caused the Chiefs some problems. Late in the fourth quarter they faced 4th-and-1 at their own 20-yard line. The score was tied 10-10 and there was 1:29 to play in the game. Common sense says you punt the ball away and have your defense stop Buffalo.
Eventually, that’s what the Chiefs did. That only came after they lined up and Cassel leaped over center to get the first down. Haley called time out before the snap and the play was no play. Given time to ponder the circumstances, Haley sent P Dustin Colquitt on the field.
Haley wasn’t happy with how that who scenario went down.
“We were running the ball at a major clip for a bunch of yardage and the hard part is that the pay was run and the timeout was called so that decision from there was easy,” Haley said. “You saw some indecision there. That’s one of the coaching things I’m talking about. You’re in the game and I don’t like to get far away from the initial intent or game plan.”
So now the Chiefs are six of 11 on fourth down plays, or a 54.5 percent success rate. Luckily for Haley, the team’s success rate is now 5-2, or 71.4 percent.