From FedEx Field
When the ball popped out of Bobby Wade’s hands at the end of Sunday’s game against the Redskins, not only was the balance of the game in danger, so was the gold star for the Chiefs kicking game.
As they have been all season, the special teams were the most consistent part of the Chiefs performance against Washington. It starts with rookie kicker Ryan Succop and his four field goals on the day. There was ILB Demorrio Williams’ block of a Falcons punt, although he won’t get credit for a block because the ball went beyond the line of scrimmage. It just goes down as a five-yard punt.
There was the best kick return day of the season for Jamaal Charles and the coverage units again did a very good job in keeping a couple of talented returners (Antwaan Randle El and Santana Moss) under control.
Only punter Dustin Colquitt was off a bit, as he averaged just 39 yards a punt and the chiefs had a 33.4 net average. But he had quite a few field-position punts, where he was kicking on a short field.
But the Chiefs punt coverage team was able to finally down a punt. In the fourth quarter, Colquitt got off a field position punt that bounced in play but was headed for the end zone for a touchback. Terrence Cooper came flying in and flipped the ball back towards the field of play where Maurice Leggett grabbed it at the three-yard line.
It was a big play, because it turned the field position table and when the Redskins punted away four plays later, the Chiefs offense started a possession at the Washington 36-yard line. That led to the Succop FG that proved to be the winning points.
The Chiefs had another chance for a Succop field goal in the first quarter, when they had a fourth-and-two at the Redskins 24-yard line. But Todd Haley decided to go for the first down, rather than kick what would have been a 42 or 43-yard FG. QB Matt Cassel was sacked on the play and the Chiefs turned the ball over on downs.
“I had a mindset that I was playing to win,” said Haley. “I wish I would’ve called a better p lay. That was the end of the field that the wind was coming out of. We were really struggling to kick in that direction in the pre-game. We were right on the edge of where we thought he (Succop) could kick.”
PASS PROTECTION HAS CASSEL RUNNING FOR HIS LIFE
The Chiefs pass protection problems were not solved in the team’s first victory of the season. They gave up five sacks of Cassel in 37 passing plays, a very bad ratio of one every 7.4 passing plays. On the season, that’s now 22 sacks in 209 pass plays.
Filling in for the injured Branden Albert at left tackle, Wade Smith struggled all day to handle the Redskins rush, especially from DE Andre Carter. He got credit for two of the five sacks. The others went to rookie Brian Orakpo, LB Chris Wilson and DT Albert Haynesworth and DE Philip Daniels split a sack.
Press box stats also credited the Washington defense with 10 quarterback hurries. Cassel ran six times β all in passing situations β and it was a tough day for the young quarterback.
The crew of referee Tony Corrente was busy but they did not take over the game, as there were 11 flags walked off against both teams. There were no apparent major blunders and both head coaches did not ask for any instant replay challenges.
The day did not start well for the Chiefs as TE Leonard Pope was flagged on the opening kickoff for holding. Other miscreants wearing a red and gold uniform were LB Brian Waters (holding)
The game-day inactive players for the Chiefs had no surprises. Rookies WR Quinten Lawrence, CB Donald Washington, TE Jake O’Connell and LB Pierre Walters did not dress. They were joined by injured veterans LT Branden Albert and FS Jarrad Page, plus TE Brad Cottam. The inactive third quarterback was Matt Gutierrez.
All those moves made CB Mike Richardson active for his first game with the Chiefs. The expected moves were made in the starting lineup with Wade Smith stepping in at LT for Albert and Jon McGraw working as the FS for Page. That last move affected the nickel defense, as S DaJuan Morgan came on the field as a safety, McGraw moved to the LB spot he’s played the last three weeks and Richardson was the extra cornerback.