Regular Season Starts – Chiefs Missed The Memo

From Arrowhead Stadium

The memo went out last week. The 2011 pre-season was over. The real season was to begin on Sunday. Everybody was put on notice.

Based on what happened at a sun-splashed Arrowhead Stadium, the Bills got the memo. The Chiefs did not. They played like they had in a 0-4 pre-season, failing to understand the significance that the outcome of these contests counts in the standings.

Buffalo 41, the Chiefs 7. Seldom in the history of the franchise has the red and gold been between as badly as they were by the Bills to open the 2011 regular season. Chan Gailey brought his team to town and they dominated every aspect of the game, starting with the opening kickoff that was fumbled away by Dexter McCluster.

From there, it was all Bills and all downhill for the Chiefs. Buffalo was in total control. It was the most dominating opening game performance by the Bills in 35 years and it was the worst opening day beat down the Chiefs have experienced in 52 seasons of football.

The star of the game was Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw for four touchdown passes and 208 yards on the afternoon. He got help from RB Fred Jackson, who picked up 112 yards in 20 carries, most of that coming in the second half when Buffalo was looking to kill the clock.

And, the play of the Bills defense cannot be forgotten, as they allowed just 213 yards and held the Chiefs running game that led the NFL in rushing last year to just 108 yards on 18 carries. They also had an interception and a recovered fumble, two sacks and the special teams forced a fumble as well.

“It doesn’t need a lot of description,” said Chiefs head coach Todd Haley. “We did the things you do that get you beat – turning the ball over, not stopping the run, not converting third downs, allowing big returns, missing kicks.”

The positives were few and far between for the Chiefs in this game. The difference in production and performance by the teams was a stark indicator that one team was ready to play, while the other not so much.

“I feel like we were prepared,” said QB Matt Cassel, who had a mediocre day throwing the football. “We just didn’t come out and play well. As players we have to make a collective effort to get better.”

That’s going to take a lot more work, because every facet of the Chiefs was a contributor to the defeat. The offense produced just one touchdown and after that score never got back into Buffalo territory. Forced into a sub-defense with six defensive backs because the Bills used so much four and five-receiver sets, the Chiefs couldn’t slow down Fitzpatrick and Jackson was able to find running room. On special teams, Ryan Succop missed a field goal, Dustin Colquitt had an ugly day punting and they got nothing out of their return game.

In fact, the Chiefs special teams set the table for the afternoon’s destruction. Under clear blue skies and near perfect weather conditions, the Chiefs came out and played generous hosts. RB Dexter McCluster took the opening kickoff and fumbled it away with LB Kelvin Sheppard falling on the ball and Buffalo had the ball and great field position at the Chiefs 26-yard line.

Fitzpatrick needed just five plays to move the Bills offense into the end zone, surviving his own fumble of a snap. On third-and-goal at the Chiefs four-yard line, Fitzpatrick connected with TE Scott Chandler for Buffalo’s first touchdown of the year. The PAT kick from Rian Lindell allowed the Bills an early 7-0 advantage.

By the end of the first quarter, Fitzgerald and his passing game had another touchdown, connecting for a 27-yard scoring pass to WR Stevie Johnson. It was a great catch from Johnson, who had to climb up the back of CB Brandon Flowers to pull the ball down at the goal line. But there they were, up 14-0, the Chiefs were reeling and a nice sized Arrowhead crowd was unhappy and letting Haley and his team know about it.

For a moment, it seemed like the Chiefs were going to get back in the game when Cassel connected with TE Leonard Pope for what officials ruled as a touchdown. But the new NFL rules that require all scoring plays be reviewed overturned the call, because Pope did not have clean possession as he fell out of bounds in the end zone. The Chiefs ended up not getting any points out of that possession, as Succop missed a 49-yard FG.

Meanwhile, the Bills tacked on a pair of field goals before the Chiefs found the scoreboard. Cassel led them on an 11-play, 81-yard drive. The score came on a six-yard pass to Charles that just snuck past a charging defensive back who had a chance for the interception. With Ryan Succop’s PAT kick, the first half ended with the Bills holding a 20-7 lead.

In the third quarter, Fitzpatrick threw touchdown passes of 11 yards to Chandler and then four yards to WR Donald Jones. Meanwhile, the Bills defense held the Chiefs to a net seven yards in the third quarter, as KC never got near the end zone. In the second half, their deepest penetration was their own 41-yard line. That ended with a Cassel interception by CB Drayton Florence.

And that turnover helped set up the Bills final touchdown, on a nine-yard run by RB C.J. Spiller. With Lindell’s PAT, the score was 41-7 and it stayed that way for the game’s final 12 minutes.

By the time it was over, the stands at Arrowhead were deserted and the Chiefs trudged to the locker room with a beating they never would have expected to come their way. Ahead are back-to-back road trips to Detroit and San Diego. Last year’s 3-0 start may be followed by this season’s 0-3 start.

“We’ll be better,” Haley said. “We have to be better next week and we are going to be better. I believe in their ability to steel their mind and stick together in the face of adversity as a team and that’s what we’re going to do.”

14 Responses to “Regular Season Starts – Chiefs Missed The Memo”

  • September 11, 2011  - Kiowa says:

    Bad bad bad bad bad bad year ahead, that was brutal

  • September 11, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    After attending numerous training camp practices for two years, it seemed Todd Haley was a bit more mellow this year. I have no idea how the players see it, they get Haley in meetings, weight room, etc…But with the revised approach to the pre-season, I wonder if Haley was a bit of a “Yo-Yo” coach to the team. Was he as intense as the past two years? I don’t think the practices were as intense. The Chiefs need the coach they had last year. He may be, but Haley’s “Yo-Yo” comment would apply to coaches, I would think. Same guy every day who gets a little bit better.

  • September 11, 2011  - Hank Hobbs says:

    When I came in a saw the last of the game I thought the Chiefs had been COMPLETELY DOMINATED until I immediately replayed the game. This game was a combination of factors that, individually could have been overcome, but not together.

    Obviously the stage was set with the kick-off fumble and short field to score; however, the biggest problem was Berry going out.

    Bills TE would have been Berry’s responsibility. Run support by K. Lewis and Sappy can’t come close to Berry.

    The missed tackles (by Berry’s replacements) weren’t as plentiful as I thought but were very harmful when they happened.

    The one execution problem I saw too much of today was giving up yards after catch.

    Finally when Pope’s TD was reversed and two Bills receivers push off’s resulting in TD and critical first down we were doomed as if destined so.

    We were not as horrible as the score but we are going to have to eliminate game changing mistakes and get Berry back on the field.

  • September 11, 2011  - Craig says:

    I like Haley’s optimism. I hope he has a better game plan. Everyone is going to stuff the box, stop the run and make Cassel beat them. He could not do it today maybe he can do it next week. IS Garrard still available or Brody? Gailey is a offensive genius and the Chiefs let him go. This goin to be a long year. Go Chiefs.

  • September 11, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    I agree with Hank’s points and particularly regarding Barry. His absence was noticeable all game and the replacements were constantly a step behind. I hope he’s not out long but it looked like his leg was giving out when he was trying to switch directions. Not a good sign.

  • September 11, 2011  - Michael says:

    “I feel like we were prepared,” said QB Matt Cassel, WHO HAD A MEDIOCRE DAY THROWING THE FOOTBALL. “We just didn’t come out and play well. As players we have to make a collective effort to get better.”

    Really, Bob? MEDIOCRE?!?!?!?

    That steaming pile averaged about 3 yards a completion and threw two picks and took a huge stumbling sack that led to a long, missed, FG attempt instead of a chip shot, and threw high, low and behind every receiver so there were absolutely no chance for yards after catch and….Oh, why go on…

    If that’s what you call mediocre, I’d hate to see what you call bad.

  • September 11, 2011  - ED J says:

    Bottom line Muir better get back to featuring Charles and Jones in this offense, or we’re going to look like the Bengals of last yr when they came off a division win. Trying utilize all the new weapons and forgetting what got you that division title from the year before which is running the football. Cassel just doesn’t look ready to be the feature guy in the offense which may put into question on how soon his future maybe decided in KC. He missed some throws and missed receivers running open in the first half.

    Bottom line we need get back to running the football and get rid of the cute formations with Mcluster and Charles in there together. Put Mcclain back in the game force defense to stop the run. Get back to using play-action and Cassel must do a better job surveying the entire field and not just one side.

  • September 11, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    Lost in this embarrassing loss is the Justin Houston story. He won a starting job. And Sheffield is the starter on the sub-package. Studabaker is a backup.

    Houston looked fluid, confident and aggressive in the pre-season. For a rookie to break into the starting lineup on opening day is quiet an accomplishment.

    He started in a hole and dug himself out. Good for him. He looks like an outstanding young player. As of right now, he’s the the highlight of our draft. Hopefully, Baldwin can share the spotlight sooner rather than later.

  • September 11, 2011  - Bills Run Over Chiefs In Opener, 41-7 : says:

    [...] GAME STORY: Pre-season performance continues. [...]

  • September 12, 2011  - RW says:

    Are the Chiefs now the worst team in the league? My eyes, that saw maybe a couple dozen pre-season games with other teams and those same eyes that looked in on another 5-6 games yesterday failed to view another team as inept as the Chiefs. By draft position, Carolina should be the worst and yet I ended up watching most of their late game vs Arizona yesterday and would easily pick them to win over the Chiefs.

    The Chiefs were disorganized, looked out of sync most of the day and could not or would not execute any variety of basic tasks during their blowout loss to Buffalo. Whatever magic they called on to win 10 games in 2010 has long since been used up and what remains is a burned out bomb crater of a team masquerading NFL credentials.

    Other than that Ms Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play? I’m calling out the entire bunch: Haley, Hunt, Pioli who should all issue an abject apology to the fans for allowing and putting this kind of inept collection on the field. That loud thud you heard was Chiefs football hitting rock bottom. There, I said my piece.

  • September 12, 2011  - el cid says:

    I would suggest all the mary sunshines who just eat up what Pioli and Haley have done, just shut up for one week. The team failed on every level possible sunday.

    I looked at the stats, McCluster touched the ball a few time but in my mind he seemed to be more involved than any of the running backs, as in the featured RB. Anyone?

    How the team respond next sunday is about the only question we have. I see no way they play better although, in theory, they could not play any worse and step foot on the field. I see no way the “fix” the offense, defense, special teams, and coaching in 5 days. To me it seems the coaching does not have a clue, this year. That is surprising from Crennel who has a long NFL history.

  • September 12, 2011  - Niblick says:

    I felt as I was leaving the game, at the start of the 4th quarter, that our season was already over. I certainly agree that the the team failed miserably on every aspect of the game. I also don’t think it can be fixed in a few days. I guess all I can hope for is improvement over the next few weeks. I’m not even thinking about how many wins. I keep changing my mind, but yesterdays performance convinced me of very few.

  • September 12, 2011  - Niblick says:

    I just read on Pro Football Talk that Eric Berry is out for the season with a torn ACL. When it rains it pours.

  • September 12, 2011  - Tim says:

    Bottom line is Haley’s approach in this weird offseason was an abysmal failure separate & apart from the significant injuries. Guys who practice FOOTBALL are ALWAYS going to beat the hell out of huys that run around in shorts…ALWAYS! The big question is: how long will it take our guys to get ready to play football, now that the season has begun. Pioli didn’t have anything to do with the training camp strategy. If we play with McGraw at S next week, we’re going to get torched again unless a pass rush materializes that gets to Stafford because on EVERY play, at least one of their receivers is going to be behind our D in about 3.5 seconds. If I were Detroit, I’d launch it at least 35% of the time & when they don’t have the ball, Gunther will probably alternate putting Suh over Lilja & Weigman to give him some play time. Oh yeah, Gunther loved KC but don’t think he’s not going to stick it in if he can.

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