Column: What Goes On At Half-time?

From Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

I’m not sure what goes on inside the Chiefs locker room at half-time.

Maybe they are spiking the Gatorade, or some sort of second-half shaman is on the Hunt Family payroll and he performs magic dances and sprinkles winning herbs and chases away evil losing spirits.

An NFL game is 60 minutes and the 2011 Chiefs are so thankful for that. If position in the standings was based on how teams played in the first half, the Chiefs would be negotiating a contract right now with Stanford QB Andrew Luck.

In the first half again on Sunday against the Colts, the Chiefs were awful, just like they were last Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium against Minnesota and the way they played the week before that in the first half at San Diego. They stunk and that’s the polite way to say it.

“Oh, for sure, we sucked,” said CB Brandon Flowers. “We just weren’t all there. We really didn’t have our s*#t together.”

But then suddenly, in the second half the team that stunk up the joint in the first half was unstoppable in the second. QB unknown Curtis Painter ripped them for 237 passing yards in the first half and then throws for 40 yards in the second half. The Colts got only 64 yards in the second half against a defense that as Flowers said, didn’t have their stuff together.

And the offense went out and moved the ball up and down the field and punched it into the end zone. For the first time this season, there was a running game for the Chiefs offense and while it was built on the very rusty legs of Jackie Battle, it was hugely successful as they threw up 194 yards on the Indy defense.

It was all the product of the second half, so again, what the heck is going on in that locker room at half-time?

“Here’s what you have to consider,” said WR Steve Breaston, who caught a pair of TD passes. “The game is 60 minutes. Just because you don’t play very good for 30 minutes doesn’t mean the whole 60 minutes has to be bad.

“We’ve got a locker room full of guys that understand the idea that it’s 60 minutes, the game is not won or lost in the first quarter that we still have to play and get things done. It’s an attitude.”

If it is an attitude, it’s a great one for any team to have, the never quitting or giving up attitude that is. The part about starting every game like the worst team in football is something they need to shake very quickly.

“We just regrouped,” said WR Dwayne Bowe, who had another big day with 128 receiving yards and two touchdown catches. “We saw what they were doing and we knew they were going to come out in the second half and do the same things. Why not? It was working for them.”

What worked for the Chiefs in the second half was a defense that got its stuff together and quit allowing Colts receivers to stroll around the secondary unmolested. What also worked is the offense came out and went with a power attitude. After FB Le’Ron McClain went down with a neck injury in the first half, the Chiefs played the second half largely in power sets, either two backs and two tight ends or one back and a pair of TEs. Only occasionally did they go with three wide receivers, and when they did, they lined WR Keary Colbert up in the formation like a wing back or tight end.

So why can’t these type of things happen in the first half? Todd Haley says maybe his club is just built for the second half, based on all the conditioning work they do.

“Adjustments are always part of it,” Haley said of the second half resurgence. “But I really think our team has worked really hard to stay in condition and to be in better condition which should help you stay out of some injury situations. I think our guys in the last three weeks you’ve really seen them get stronger in the second half. It may just be that were staying the same and the other team is getting more tired, but that’s something our guys take great pride in, with all the work they put in to be a well-conditioned team.”

But it has to be more than just being in better shape?

“Listen, we are well coached and prepared every week by this coaching staff,” said LB Andy Studebaker, who got the start with the base defense for the first time this season. “It’s up to us once we are on the field to make things work. Obviously, we are starting slow, but the thing is this team doesn’t give up. We just try to get better with each play.”

So there’s nothing special going on in the locker room at the half?

“No, it’s pretty boring actually,” LB Ryan Lilja said with a laugh. “Sometimes we get some people yelling, but mostly it’s about evaluating what you did in the first half and trying to figure out what needs to be done better.”

6 Responses to “Column: What Goes On At Half-time?”

  • October 9, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    The players haven’t quit on themselves or their coach. The team has a tough road ahead but they are playing for one another and for Haley. The narrative has changed from Haley being an angry, hated leader to an emotional, respected coach….if that means anything to Scott Pioli.

  • October 9, 2011  - ED J says:

    Haley will be fine didn’t think Haley job was in jeporady unless the team would’ve won 3 or 4 games. Either way I love Haley attitude as head coach as well as the way he coaches. ITs old school and he’s helped guys like Bowe, Dorsey, and DJ live up to their potential. How many yrs we waited for DJ to make impact on this defense. He play outside and then inside under Herm and Gunther and still struggled. He also DJ had good game he looked like human torpedo out there. Haley back to the point has gotten most out of these guys. I think we all suspected Chiefs would play bad because of not starting in preseason games at least the first 2 or 3 games. But when they got their doors blown off like that as fans and media we overeacted and thought this team is going to go winless or at best win 2 or 3 games.

    Now that a quarter of season is over with and we’re playing up to the talent level on the team now that the preseason mode of the 1st quarter of the season is now over. Baldwin should definately help further the improvement of this offense. Especially since we got the bye week to get him incorporated into the offense and move Steve back to the slot. So I think will start to see offense play better early with more throwing options for Cassel.

  • October 9, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    Tough day for Tuan and ED J… ;)

    Matt Cassel 4 TD passes, brings us back from down 17 points. Breaston finally woke up; the O-line was improved; Battle stepped up and ran hard w/o the fumbling he did in pre-season; Defensive adjustments at halftime worked.
    Tough day for the haters…GREAT day for Chiefs fans!

  • October 9, 2011  - Chiefs Come-From Behind For 28-24 Victory : says:

    [...] COLUMN: The half-time story. [...]

  • October 9, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    C’mon guys, Ed’s a Chiefs fan too, albeit a frustrated one earlier on. I agree with him and look forward to seeing if Baldwin can add another weapon to the offense. We are definitely playing better the past three games even if it is streaky. We need to work that out before we go into the meat grinder part of our schedule but I’ll take wins like today all year. Great victory and a great day to be a Chiefs fan!

  • October 10, 2011  - leonard says:

    The Chiefs have finally awakened, and will be getting better as we go. Battle is looking good, and I suspecct we will be seeing more of him. 2 TD’s for Bowe, and 2 for Breaston. Now that is a great thing. Add Baldwin to the mix, and defenses will have a harder time trying to cover them all.
    Good things happen to those who stay positive through adversity.

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