From Arrowhead Stadium
It was once the most feared stadium in the National Football League. Arrowhead Stadium and the Chiefs fans that filled it every game day and night were known throughout the land. Opponents hated the trip to Kansas City, except the ultra-competitive players, who loved the idea of competing in front of such rabid fans.
That Arrowhead hasn’t been seen in some time, and it’s too early to say it’s back in full force. But there’s no doubt that the folks that survived the rain and wind of Monday night left their stamp on the game and the Chargers:
- San Diego was forced to use two timeouts as they were about to run out of time on the play clock.
- The offense was called for three delay of game penalties.
- The Chargers also picked up a false start penalty.
“What a great energy out there,” said head coach Todd Haley. “This is how I visualize Arrowhead and it’s because of those people out there that went through some pretty difficult conditions. That’s got me real excited. I know if we can come in and win these games, we’ll have a chance to compete.”
Unfortunately these days we don’t get to know how many people were actually in Arrowhead for the game. The paid attendance was announced as 71,297. How many actually showed up is unknown but there were only a few pocket of empty seats, most of those in the high-priced club level.
It was the largest announced attendance since December of 2008 when 73,689 were announced for the game against Miami.
NOT A NICE HOMECOMING FOR SPROLES
Olathe’s Darren Sproles was back in Arrowhead for another visit home, but it will not be one of those nights he remembers fondly.
Sproles touched the ball 14 times as a runner, receiver and returner. He produced just 70 yards and no play went for 20 yards or more:
- Ran five times for three yards, with a three-yard long run.
- Caught two passes for two yards, with a four-yard long catch.
- Returned five punts for 33 yards, a 6.6-yard average with a long return of 13 yards.
- Brought back two kickoffs for 32 yards, a 16-yard average with a 19-yard long return.
“You don’t ever want to let him go off,” said WR Terrance Copper, one of the special teams coverage leaders. “Everybody worked hard to stay in their lanes and not give him anywhere to run.”
PART OF THE CROWD
Among the faces in Arrowhead for the Monday night game were a large number of folks from the Oakland A’s, in town to play the Royals. The A’s grabbed a 3-1 victory Monday afternoon and a number of staff and players were headed across parking lot M to the Chiefs-Chargers game.
They were led by manager Bob Geren, who is from San Diego and a big Chargers fan. On the other side was A’s reliever Brad Ziegler, who grew up in Odessa, Mo and has always been a big Chiefs fan. In fact, he hung a Jamaal Charles jersey in his locker at Kaufmann Stadium.
“I told the guys that the atmosphere you’re going to get on Monday night in the opener against a division team will be tough to beat,” said Ziegler.
SPECIAL TEAMS REPORT
P Dustin Colquitt had a nice night punting the ball, kicking nine times for an average of 38.2 yards, and a net average of 34.6 yards. Considering the weather conditions, it was a nice performance.
Punt coverage allowed just 33 yards to Sproles on five returns, the longest being 13 yards.
K Ryan Succop did not try a field goal, and made all three of his PATs. Succop kicked off four times, with two touchbacks. His other kicks went to the nine and seven-yard lines.
On kick coverage, Sproles returned two kicks for 32 yards, with a long return of 19.
Copper had three tackles in the kicking game, S Reshard Langford and LS Thomas Gafford had two tackles and TE Jake O’Connell had one special teams stop.
Referee Peter Morelli and his crew were pretty much invisible most of the night, which is always good for an officiating crew. On the night, they walked off a total of eight penalties and there were no instant replay reviews or even controversial calls.
The Chiefs had only three penalties. TE Jake O’Connell was called for holding on a punt return, WR Terrance Copper was hit with a facemask penalty on kick coverage and RT Barry Richardson was called for offensive holding. That wiped out a two-yard gain by RB Jamaal Charles.
The Chiefs won the opening toss when the Chargers called heads on the coin toss and it came up tails.
No surprises among the inactive players for the Chiefs. They were the injured OLB Cameron Sheffield and RT Ryan O’Callaghan, along with FB Mike Cox, second-year DE Alex Magee, first-year players CB Jackie Bates and DT Anthony Toribio and rookies WR Jeremy Horne and LB Justin Cole.
That left the Chiefs with just seven offensive linemen, and in pre-game RG Ryan Lilja was working at RT and C Rudy Niswanger was taking snaps at RG.
With O’Callaghan out of the action, Richardson got his second NFL start at right tackle.
For the Chargers, they were without OLB Shawne Merriman, DL Vaughn Martin, Cam Thomas, LB Brandon Lang, OT Adam Terry, CB Dante Hughes, S Darrell Stuckey, with J.T. O’Sullivan as the inactive third quarterback.
Monday night was the first NFL starts for TE Tony Moeaki, ILB Jovan Belcher and SS Eric Berry. It was the first starts as member of the Chiefs for Moeaki, Belcher, Berry, RG Ryan Lilja and RB Thomas Jones.
The Chiefs sixth captain for the game, as named by the head coach, was WR Chris Chambers.
It was the Chiefs first opening game victory since 2005 when they beat the New York Jets 27-7 â€¦ it was also their first Monday night victory since 2004 when they won at Tennessee 49-38 â€¦ it was their first winning effort on Monday night at home since 2003 when they beat Oakland 17-10.
With touchdowns by Dexter McCluster and Tony Moeaki, it was the first time two rookies scored touchdowns for the Chiefs in the opening game since 1987. That was also against San Diego, in a 20-14 victory for the Chiefs at Arrowhead. First-round draft choice Paul Palmer returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score and second-round choice Christian Okoye had a 43-yard touchdown run.
The Chiefs only had one fumble in the game, remarkable given the weather conditions. McCluster dropped a punt, but quickly fell on the ball before the coverage guys arrived.
The offense was a miserable one of 11 on converting third downs, just nine percent. They were also zero for one on fourth down â€¦ San Diego had nearly a 15-minute edge in time of possession.