The Kansas City Chiefs season has been a roller coaster ride so far with Sunday’s 17-10 loss to the Denver Broncos presenting what the team hopes is the bottom of a big dip.
Tim Tebow completed just two (2!!!!) passes against the Chiefs defense, but the Broncos offense totaled 244 yards on 55 carries despite losing starting running back Willis McGahee and backup Knowshon Moreno early to leg injuries.
Though the huge rushing numbers might make you think otherwise, it wasn’t a terrible day at the office for the Kansas City defense. It wasn’t good (for them or anyone else) but the defense didn’t get any help from an inept offense.
For the second straight week, Chiefs QB Matt Cassel was running for his life from the first series. The breakdowns along the offensive line were so bad that early in the first half I commented on Twitter there was no way Cassel would survive the game. After taking a hit from impressive Denver rookie LB Von Miller, Cassel got up shaking his hand, was unable to unbuckle his helmet with that hand and was replaced on the next series by backup Tyler Palko.
Cassel left the stadium wearing a cast on his hand, but said he would be ready to play Monday night at New England against the Patriots.
The talk around the league is how the Broncos could win when only completing two passes, but the Chiefs weren’t any better with Cassel going 13-for-28 for 93 yards (3.3 average).
The highlight for Cassel and the Kansas City offense (that counted) was a great fake at the goal line first by Jackie Battle jumping over the pile without the ball and then by the Chiefs QB for holding the fake by keeping the ball hidden at his hip before hitting a wide open Le’Ron McClain in the end zone.
As for the play that didn’t count, the Chiefs had one of the best catches you will ever see in a football game. Rookie WR Jonathan Baldwin was able to catch a deep throw from Cassel despite having safety Brian Dawkins body separating the ball from his body. Just an amazing individual effort from Baldwin, but one that was called back because of a flag on Steve Breaston.
Now the Chiefs, just a game out of first place, face one of the toughest stretches of any team in the league: Patriots, Steelers, Bears, Jets and Packers. Ouch.
Before we move on to New England, here are the three players most deserving of a game ball on offense, defense and special teams.
Offense: Tyler Palko
I desperately wanted to give this to Baldwin for his unreal catch, but he dropped an easy catch late in the game. RB Jackie Battle could have also claimed this one with 9 carries for 61 yards, including a 34-yard scamper that helped to setup the Chiefs only touchdown on the day.
In the end it made sense to give it to the player on offense that played nearly flawlessly and that’s Palko on the final series of the game for the Chiefs offense. Down 17-7, the backup took over for an injured Cassel with just under two minutes left and took the Chiefs into the red zone while going 5-of-6 for 47 yards.
Defense: Justin Houston
After a less than stellar performance from Andy Studebaker to open the game, the third-round pick took over at OLB opposite Tamba Hali and didn’t disappoint. Twice he played Tebow perfectly on the option (he did see plenty of it at Georgia, after all) forcing the QB to give up the ball and looked like a man that isn’t going back to the bench any time soon.
On the day Houston finished credited with five tackles (though that is likely to increase on film) and will now get a chance to show his pass rush skills as the Chiefs head to take on a Patriots team that will not run the ball 55 times.
Special Teams: Ryan Succop
For the second straight week, Succop did everything that was asked of him.
He put his only two deep kickoffs well into the end zone for a touchback to completely eliminate the Broncos return game.
Succop hit his only field goal attempt in the final seconds of the game to pull the Chiefs within a touchdown and followed that up with the first onside kick I’ve ever seen without a tee. The onside was perfectly executed, slowly bouncing past the mandatory ten yards and then squirting free before the Broncos emerged at the bottom of the pile with the ball.