The Numbers – After Game No. 14

OK, admit it. After the first quarter didn’t you think . . . “same old thing as last week.”

The Rams held the ball almost 11 minutes. They had run it eight times, five successful runs of four or more yards. The Rams had converted three of five third-down plays. Chiefs defenders were giving them plenty of help with missed tackles.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs offense had just two first downs, minus-five yards rushing (couldn’t convert a second-and-1), 16 yards of total offense and quarterback Matt Cassel had thrown an interception for the first time since the final pass of the first half against Oakland (a string of 162 passes without an interception).

The only significant statistic in the Chiefs favor was that they had held the Rams to just a pair of field goals – though the Rams did have the ball and were inside Kansas City territory.

On Monday, Todd Haley called the victory in St. Louis a “complementary” win, saying at different times in the game each segment of the team contributed: some three-and-outs by the defense, three sacks, Matt Cassel’s toughness, Dustin Colquitt’s 72-yard punt on special teams and Jamaal Charles’ 80-yard run.

So the easy thing would be to say everything got turned around and the Chiefs rolled to their ninth win of the season in comfortable fashion. And certainly the 27-13 final score looks like it. But looks can be deceiving, and it’s clear that not all the problems of the defense are solved – nor is the running game back on track and as much as the team’s sixth 200-yard rushing game would indicate.

Since we’ve hit the defense hard the past several weeks, we’ll evaluate the offense first.

The return of Matt Cassel

For a guy who had major surgery less than two weeks ago, his pain tolerance is off the charts. Athletes, who are highly conditioned to begin with, are able to recover from surgeries and injuries of all kind more quickly than those less inclined to work their body several hours each day. Haley referred to him as “playing fearlessly” and said that was a “sign of mental toughness.”

The mental toughness has never been a question for me. When Cassel was taking heat early in the season, he never flinched. He never tossed anyone under the bus. He stood and answered questions with a firm belief in what he was doing.

On Sunday he stamped himself as the leader of this offense – from gutty scrambles where he could have looked for a place to slide to shrugging off an interception. After being incomplete or intercepted or forced to scramble on five of his first nine pass plays, he was 10 of 19 the remainder of the game. His 6.3-yard per attempt average would have been significantly higher except for a drop by Bowe and one by Dexter McCluster when he could have turned a short gain into a big one if the ball that hit his hands had stuck.

The return of Chris Chambers as a viable target was an interesting development, and one that could significantly help the Chiefs offense if he becomes a reliable target again.

Cassel Total

Less than 7

7-10 yards 



@ St. Louis 15-29-184-1-1 



Season  227-383-2,687-24-5





Sunday’s targets

The return of Chris Chambers as a viable target was an interesting development, and one that could significantly help the Chiefs offense if he becomes a reliable target again.


St. Louis






































The running game

The running game still faltered, however against St. Louis. The Chiefs had six zero- or minus-yardage runs (not counting three kneel-downs at the end of the game) against the Rams. That’s more than any other game this season. Charles’ 80-yard dash was a dagger for the Rams, and he continues to be a home-run threat every time he’s on the field. But it was only his second run of more than 14 yards in the past four games. Twice he left Sunday’s game because of injuries.

Thomas Jones, who passed another career milestone with his 10,000th rushing yard, had five runs of zero- or minus yardage. That’s an indication that opposing defenses are loading up for the run when he is in the game. But he’s also the more durable, thus in my mind, the more reliable of the two backs to be there late in a game. Jones had nine of his 22 carries in the fourth quarter.

@ St. Louis

4 yds +

3 or less 

Big runs 

Winning runs

Charles (11 for 126 yards) 


9 of 11 

Season (203-1,303) 




111 of 203 

Jones (22 for 62 yard) 



8 of 22 

Season (212-828) 




95 of 212 

Winning runs are runs that gain 4 or more yards or result in a first down or touchdown.

Defense against the run

The Chiefs avoided giving up a gashing run that has hurt them, but they still allowed Stephen Jackson to consistently batter them for successful runs. The Rams had 21 running plays, including a three-yard scramble and a kneel down. So that’s really just 19 called runs.

The Rams gained four or more yards on 11 of those plays. Toss in a two-yard run for first down, and the Chiefs defense failed to shut down the run as effectively as a 21-for-69-yard day makes it look. The Rams were successful on 12 of the 19 running plays called.

The Chiefs rank 13th against the run overall (107 yards per game) and 16th in average gain per carry (4.2 per carry). While they did make St. Louis one dimensional, that was a function of the score. In the fourth quarter the Rams did not attempt a run on first down. In the second half they attempted only three first-down runs.

Looking ahead to this week the Chiefs face a team that averages 115.6 yards per game rushing. Running back Chris Johnson will present a far different challenge than the bruising Stephen Jackson. The Chiefs must play more efficiently against him than they did against San Diego or Denver.





Big play 

Def. Succ.* 


@ St. Louis














* Defensive success does not include short runs for a first down or touchdown or kneel-downs at the end of a half or game.

Opponent’s first-down plays






St. Louis





 Chiefs sacks by down for season

Wallace Gilberry had a career day in St. Louis. Only four Chiefs in history have had more sacks in a single game than Gilberry had against the Rams. It gives him seven for the season, trailing only Tamba Hali’s team-leading 11. Two of Gilberry’s sacks came in passing situations, a 3rd-and-10 and a 3rd-and-20.

First down

Second down 

Third down 


Passing situation* 






*Passing situation defined as second or third-and-long (more than 6), two-minute drill or second half when down by more than two scores.

16 Responses to “The Numbers – After Game No. 14”

  • December 21, 2010  - bhive01 says:

    I admit that I thought the game was slipping away, but not nearly as badly in either the loss to SD or DEN. In those games both teams came away with TDs on those drives. Being ahead by two FGs means pretty much nothing although the Chiefs looked really flat out there for a while.

    I was elated to see that they turned things around. I would be nice to put together a solid game from start to finish for the next two weeks. We’ll need a solid game to come away with an 11-5 season and a playoff birth. Lose once and SD will be waiting to send us home until August 2011.

  • December 21, 2010  - MattMac44 says:

    Bob – Since it was negated by an Illegal Contact penalty, you probably did not mention T. Copper’s target in the first half. Though the penalty was accepted, Copper dropped a perfect ball from Cassel and had plenty of green in front of him with the Rams’ LB in his wake. Plays / drops like this are the ones that people (not you) often forget in evaluating our QB.

  • December 21, 2010  - Don says:

    Yes, I too thought “here we go again”. But, like our developing team, I felt we could catch fire any time. Maybe I’m growing as a fan like our guys are improving.

  • December 21, 2010  - aPauled says:

    I’m always shocked, disappointed, pissed when the Offense comes on to the field for their first series and goes 3-n-out. That should never happen. Either the guys aren’t ready to execute or the play caller hasn’t done his game prep when this happens. Usually it’s a (bad) sign of what is to come.

    Bob, how do the Chiefs rate with the rest of the NFL in going 3-n-out on their first offensive series of the game? and how do they rate with their combined first offensive series of each half?

  • December 22, 2010  - Albert says:

    When the Chiefs held the Rams to a field goal after that endless opening drive I started to get more confident that our guys would come away with a W. Has anyone heard the rumor about Larry Fitzgerald signing with the Chiefs for 2011? Even as a rumor it gives us the glimmer of an idea of a superstar athlete coming TO Kansas City. Compare that with the Royals trading away Zack Greinke. The Royals have replaced the Brooklyn Dodgers old motto of “wait till next year,” with “wait till three years from now.” If I can finish my rant on the Royals, again compare them with the Chiefs. As bad as the last few years have been, the Chiefs only had three losing seasons in a row: 07, 08 and 09. Maybe only four years between playoff berths. The Royals haven’t made the playoffs in 25 years and haven’t been in contention past June since I don’t know when. With improvement in the Chief’s young players, a few good draft picks and free agents (Larry Fitzgerald maybe) the Chiefs are contenders to go deep into the playoffs next year (if there is a season). The Royals? Just wait till three years from now.

  • December 22, 2010  - Kent Pulliam says:


    I don’t think the league keeps a particular stat about first-possession three-and-outs. I can check on the Chiefs. Give me another team you want to compare them and I will track down their other 14 play-by-plays and post here in comments.

    Kent Pulliam

  • December 22, 2010  - Kent Pulliam says:

    The Chiefs have gone three-out only three times this season on the first series. Their opponents have gone 3-out four times this season. So Chiefs are better than their opponents in this respect. Here’s the game by game:

    SD Chiefs 3-out, Chargers 4 FD and punt
    Cle Chiefs 2 FD and punt, Browns, 3-out
    SF Chiefs 1 FD punt, Niners 1 FD and punt
    Colts Chiefs 5 FD and 4th at goal, Colts 2 FD, FG
    Hou Chiefs 4 FD and TD, Texans 3-out
    Jack Chiefs 2 FD punt, Jack 2 FD and punt
    Buff: 2 FD and punt, Bills 2 FD and punt
    Oak: Chiefs 3-out, Raiders 3-out
    Den: Chiefs 1 FD, Broncos 3 FD and TD
    Ariz: Chiefs 1 FF and punt, Cards 3 FD and FG
    Sea: Chiefs 2 FD and block FG, Sea 3 out
    Den: Chiefs 1 FD and punt, Bronco 2 FD and punt
    SD: Chiefs 1 FD and punt, Charg: 3 FD and TD
    STL: Chiefs 3-out and punt, Rams 4 FD and FG

  • December 22, 2010  - dan in joplin says:

    Good stuff Kent! Thanks for the queston aPauled, i don’t mean to jump in on your question, but i’ll ask Kent if he could show us the Patriots first series this year. Thanks.

  • December 22, 2010  - aPauled says:

    Thanks Kent. 3 of 14 games would be 21%…not good, especially for a “running” team.

    No problem Dan. My first thought was also the Patriots, immediately followed by the “objects appear closer than they actually are” in our rear view mirror…the Chargers.

  • December 22, 2010  - Kent Pulliam says:

    I’ll try and look at Pats. Have to track down all their play by play. Probably not until late afternoon, early evening before I get to all of them.
    thanks — Kent

  • December 22, 2010  - Gerardo says:

    One interesting thing here, the Chiefs had only one score, while the opponents had 4 scores on the first series. That’s not good. They also had 2 opportunities to score that failed: blocked FG and 4th and Goal. Again, we need a better start!

  • December 22, 2010  - Gerardo says:

    sorry the opponents had 5 vs 1 for the Chiefs

  • December 22, 2010  - Kent Pulliam says:

    OK, here’s the Pats.

    CIN: W 2 FD and TD; Beng 1 FD and punt’
    NYJ: L 4 FD and miss FG; Jets 3-out
    BUF: W 32 FD and TD; Bills 2FD and FG
    MIA: W 3-out; Dolphins 2FD and punt
    BAL: W 3-out; Rav, 5 FD and FG
    SD: W 1FD and punt; Char, 1FD and punt
    MIN: W 1FD and punt; Vikes 2 FD and punt
    CLE: L 3-out, Browns 2 FD and FG
    PIT: W 4 FD and TD; Steelers 3-out
    IND: W 1 FD and TD; Colts 2 FD and Int
    DET: W 1 FD and punt; Lions 1 FD and punt
    NYJ: W 3 FD and FG; Jets 4 FD and miss FG
    CHI: W 3-out; Bears 3-out
    GB: W 21 FD and TD; Pack 3 FD and FG

    Six scores, opponents 4 scores
    Anyone interested can look at go to team, click schedule and do game report to get a full game book from every game.

  • December 22, 2010  - aPauled says:

    Wow, the Pats have even had 4 3-n-outs to start games. I wouldn’t have guessed that, although that list includes the Ravens and Bears who can play some D.

  • December 23, 2010  - dan in joplin says:

    thanks kent!

  • December 23, 2010  - Kent Pulliam says:

    You’re welcome.

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