Around The Web: Misfit Football, Raiders Save Haley, Familiar MVP

There is little chance anyone from the NFL will save the tape for the archives.  It was an ugly game all around almost from the moment the Chiefs kicked off just after 1pm local time.  Bob Gretz describes a game with few positives and a lot of bad, bad football.

They won their second game instead of losing their eighth; that’s positive.  Jamaal Charles ran for 103 yards and scored the team’s first rushing TD of the season; that’s positive.  Dustin Colquitt had a net punting average of 47.5 yards; that was a positive.

That’s was it.  There are so many examples to provide a picture into how poorly this game was played, coached and officiated.  Here are just a couple examples.  With less than five minutes to play, Chiefs DB Maurice Leggett was back to handle an Oakland punt.  His team was leading by six points.  Caution and ball security was paramount.  As he settled under the punt at his own 30-yard line, Leggett mishandled the ball.  Bending over to pick it up, he kicked it away.  Reaching again, the ball slipped from his fingers again.  Finally, just a few seconds before the Raiders coverage was about to engulf him and the ball, Leggett finally got hold of the ball.  He ended up losing four yards on the return, but he kept the ball.

From the guys in striped shirts: as the Raiders were coming down the field late in the fourth quarter, backup QB Bruce Gradkowski connected with WR Darrius Heyward-Bey on a 22-yard play with 39 seconds to play.  The officials on the field ruled the play a catch.  But the replay booth stopped play for a review.  The replay clearly showed that Heyward-Bey did not get both feet down.  It should have been an incomplete pass.  But after reviewing the tape, referee Mike Carey decided it was a good catch.

The whole afternoon was like this.  Play-after-play, series-after-series, four quarters in all, this was something far short of NFL football.  They played a United Football League game down the road in San Jose on Saturday night.  Wonder if this game looked any better than that one.

I thought the play with Heyward-Bey was closer than Gretz.  Watching it live I thought he was out of bounds, but the replay showed it was so close the call would have to stand no matter what was called on the field.  There just wasn’t indisputable visual evidence to reverse the call.

The other part of the game that being in the press box he missed was the performance by CBS announcers Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker.  I’m a huge GJ fan, but he announced down to the play on the field Sunday.  “Jamaal Charles on the catch…” which would have been hard for the running back to do from the ground behind the line of scrimmage.  Mistakes will be made but it seemed every third play there was a mistake similar to that one.

Coming from the world of broadcasting I understand how difficult the job in the booth is.  And I can only imagine how a guy like Johnson keeps his excitement up for a matchup between teams with a combined record of 3-13.  But you need to at least get the basics down.  And if it’s the spotters mistake (person in the booth pointing out players/numbers), you need to get yourself a new spotter.

The quality on the field wasn’t anything to write home about, but according to The Star’s Jason Whitlock it was all Todd Haley’s fault.  Or more specifically, the Raiders prevented the end of Haley as we know him.

Had Raiders first-round disaster Darrius Heyward-Bey held on to Oakland’s final pass and the Raiders completed their final drive, Haley’s credible tenure as an NFL head coach would’ve ended nine games into his first season.

Heyward-Bey saved Haley’s job and what little credibility he has left.  By inexplicably bobbling and then batting the ball into the hands of Chiefs safety Mike Brown at the KC 10, Heyward-Bey breathed new life into Haley’s head-coaching career.

Your guess is as good as any what Haley will do with this second chance.  In the aftermath of his second victory, he acknowledged that his football instincts push him to gamble.  On Sunday, with the Raiders doing everything they possibly could to secure their seventh loss, Haley tried to out-dumb Al Davis’ men in black.

Late in the third quarter, facing fourth and 1 at the Oakland 14 and leading 13-10, Haley turned down a field-goal attempt, a short-yardage run and had Matt Cassel bootleg right for a pass attempt.  The Raiders broke up the pass and stayed within a Sebastian Janikowski field goal of a tie game.  Worse, when the Chiefs did tack on an additional field goal in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs led by six rather than an insurmountable number such as nine.

“I have to be smart,” Haley admitted.  “You can’t let the circumstances get to you too much.”

The circumstances are: 1. Haley and Scott Pioli are getting a very difficult lesson in just how hard it is to win in the NFL; 2. Kansas City’s personnel is below average; 3. After running his mouth and carrying himself like his coaching would magically produce five or six victories, Haley is embarrassed.

Rather than humble himself, Haley is trying to win football games from the sideline.  This is why I’ve been harping on “ego” all season.  An out-of-control ego makes coaches and executives do dumb stuff.

Negative article from Whitlock?  I’m shocked.

I hate to break it to him, but the Chiefs could end up with five wins.  In fact I think 4 is all but guaranteed with Cleveland and Buffalo on the schedule.  That means Kansas City only needs to steal one more in order to get to that “magical” victory number.

Did Haley have a great game?  No, but he was better than Cable (not saying much) and still had his team in position to win, something he’s done more than not this season.  So no matter what Whitlock would like you to believe, Haley and Scott Pioli are not the worst people in the world.

This weekend the Chiefs welcome the Pittsburgh Steelers to town.  They played an ugly game of their own yesterday.  They fell to the Bengals 18-12 and their MVP of the game came from the same position that delivered the same for the Chiefs most of the season.

In a game where neither offense managed a touchdown, it was K Jeff Reed who kept the Steelers involved to the end with four field goals — his most since he had four on Nov. 30, 2008 in New England.  It was the fourth time in his career Reed has kicked four field goals in a game.  His career best is six against Jacksonville in 2002.  The Steelers failed to score a touchdown on four trips inside the Bengals 20, forcing them to settle for field goals from Reed of 28, 33, 35 and 34 yards.  Since missing two field goals in the fourth quarter in Chicago, Reed has converted 11 of his past 12 field-goal attempts.

This week we saw the showdown between two great punters and now we will see a kick-off.

Catch the excitement!

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