That is how you take care of business on the road in a must-win game.
The Kansas City Chiefs held onto their one-game lead in the AFC West with a solid 27-13 win over the St. Louis Rams inside the Edward Jones Dome. A huge contingent of Chiefs fans helped a team that has struggled on the road feel right at home and clearly bothered the Rams throughout the game.
Even though some outlets continued to tell you up until kickoff that Matt Cassel might not go, there wasn’t anything that was going to stop him from playing. Along with Jamaal Charles (when he was given the ball), Cassel provided a lift to the entire team as the Chiefs looked completely different from the group that flopped in San Diego last week against the Chargers.
After starting slowly and giving up a 14-play scoring drive the Kansas City defense woke up and clamped down on the St. Louis offense. Steven Jackson was held to just 67 yards, his lowest total in a month while rookie QB Sam Bradford only completed 21 of his 43 passes for 181 yards and was picked off twice.
The Kansas City Chiefs now head home to Arrowhead for the final two games of the season with a very simple win-and-we’re-in mantra. This game should serve as a perfect spring board for a strong finish.
Some great performances on both sides of the ball make it hard to narrow it down, but here are the best from offense, defense and special teams.
Offense: Matt Cassel
It’s hard to argue if you want to give Jamaal Charles the honor for his 126 yards on just 11 carries, but for me Cassel gets the nod for proving to be the heart and soul of the team.
To be out there leading a team, running around the field taking big hits just 11 days after having an appendectomy is something that should not be overlooked by anyone talking about this game. As we mentioned, don’t believe any of the national stories about this being a drawn out decision for Cassel to play. He wasn’t going to let surgery or anything else keep him out of this game, with the decision officially made yesterday.
Cassel’s numbers (15-29, 184 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) aren’t anything that will help win a fantasy season, but he provided everything the Chiefs needed to keep their real season alive. Hard to find a more gutsy performance in the league this season.
Defense: Wallace Gilberry
Early on it looked like Romeo Crennel wouldn’t be able to get any pressure from his defensive linemen. Then in came Gilberry and all of that seemed to change. For a guy that plays limited snaps, he had a huge impact while harassing Bradford to the tune of 3 sacks.
As good as Shaun Smith has been for the Chiefs this season, there is no reason why Gilberry doesn’t deserve a chance to start opposite Glenn Dorsey to give the defense a second pass rush specialist in the front seven.
It’s a great sign for a struggling defense that Eric Berry, Derrick Johnson, Glenn Dorsey or Kendrick Lewis could make a case as deserving of this spot.
Special Teams: Ryan Succop
The Chiefs might own some of the blocking return units in the league, but there will be no such problems when it comes to their place kicker. Succop was officially a perfect 2-for-2, including a career-best 53 yarder but he also made a third field goal from 51 yards that was taken off the board thanks to a false stat penalty.
He has only hit on 75% of his kicks after an impressive rookie season in which he was good 86% of the time, but it’s hard to imagine a performance like today’s doesn’t give him a boatload of confidence for this final stretch of the season.