From Arrowhead Stadium
If the two key guys in the 2009 Chiefs offense were on escalators, they would pass each other going up, and going down.
Jamaal Charles is on the up escalator, as he continues to show that he has the ability to be a top-flight offensive threat in the NFL.
Matt Cassel is on the down escalator, as he continues to struggle to establish himself and the Chiefs passing game as a productive and consistent offensive force.
Both were on display Sunday as the Chiefs fell to the Bills 16-10. Charles and his legs kept the Chiefs in the game in the second half, when Cassel and his passes were taking them out of the action.
It’s not a good combination for producing victories, which probably explains the three straight losses the Chiefs have suffered.
Charles ran for 143 yards on 20 carries, the bulk of that coming on a 76-yard touchdown run. He also caught seven passes for 38 yards, giving him 27 touches in the game for 181 yards.
Over the last five games since he’s become the focus of the Chiefs running game, and the offense, Charles has 104 offensive touches for 570 yards and five touchdowns. Throw in his kick return duties â€“ which he did not handle against Buffalo â€“ and in the last five games he’s produced 911 all-purpose yards on 115 touches with six touchdowns.
This season now, Charles has nine plays that went for 40 yards or more and three plays for 50 yards or more, with touchdowns of 76 and 97 yards.
The 76-yarder came on a first-and-10 play at the Chiefs 24-yard line late in the third quarter. Charles took the handoff from Cassel as RG Wade Smith pulled and trapped Buffalo DT Kyle Williams. That opened a huge hole in the Bills defense, and when Charles got to the second level of the defense, he just juked and then out ran several defenders for the touchdown.
“I guess they had a blitz up the middle and we had a perfect play and I just took it to the house,” said Charles.
The play call was perfect because Buffalo head coach/defensive coordinator Perry Fewell had called for a blitz.
“They caught me in a blitz; it was a bad call,” Fewell said. “I thought I had some tendencies on them and I thought I could predict what they were going to do and they caught me.”
Charles tried to contribute in several different ways against the Bills. He made two tackles on interception returns, and actually caused a fumble on one and ended up with the football. But officials ruled the play down and Buffalo kept the football. The Chiefs challenged the call, but replay did not overrule the decision on the field.
“I thought it was a great hustle play by all the guys,” said Haley.
Cassel had his second bad game in a row. In the last two games played over eight days Cassel was 36 of 72 (50% completion rate) for 308 yards, no touchdowns and six interceptions, including the four he threw against the Bills on this Sunday.
All of those go on Cassel’s ticket, but only the first one was really his fault.
“When an interception happens there are a lot of different factors that are involved,” said head coach Todd Haley. “I know today two of them were tipped balls and the last interception is a jump-ball situation. When two are tipped and one hits the receiver in the hands, it’s proof there are a lot of factors involved.”
Cassel’s first interception was an extremely poor decision on his part. He was rolling to his right away from some pressure and decided to throw across his body and try to dump the ball over a Buffalo defender to WR Mark Bradley. The defender was Terrence McGee and he grabbed the interception.
“Obviously, I’d like to have that one back,” said Cassel. “It was just a dumb play by me and I’ve got to be smart with the ball.”
The next two picks bounced off the hands of WR Chris Chambers and were grabbed by LB Paul Posluszny and DB Jairus Byrd, Then S George Wilson grabbed the jump ball on the final play of the game to make it four interceptions.
That’s six in the last two weeks and 13 on the season. Those are combined with two potential touchdown passes where he overthrew Bradley and then several drops, including one late in the game by Chambers that would have set up the Chiefs at the Buffalo two-yard line.
It all led to a steady chorus of boos from the Arrowhead crowd. Cassel heard the catcalls.
“Hey, they’re allowed to do whatever they want,” he said. “They pay the money to come here and we have to perform. It’s frustrating not to be winning. You come out and put so much hard work in each and every week and to not have the production all the time on Sunday and putting up the Ws for the fans â€¦ for us and for everybody, it’s frustrating.”