Facing a 4th and less than a yard at the Cleveland 38 yard line with 2 minutes remaining, the Kansas City Chiefs could punt the ball away to make the Browns march down the field or seal the win with a first down. Josh Looney and Kent Babb talked to all of the parties involved and it was clear that the team and coach were on the same page.
“Obviously a lot of the guys wanted to go for it,” RB Thomas Jones said. “We work those plays all the time in practice, so that was a great opportunity for us to take what we’ve practiced and get the first down to run the clock out.”
Whether or not it was the will of the players, or discussions with assistants, that convinced Haley to make the call doesn’t exactly matter. When Matt Cassel jogged back into the game at the conclusion of the TV timeout, it was all about the now. Todd Haley was playing to win.
“I think you can probably look at it like that,” Haley said. “I was doing what I thought gave us the best chance to win. I thought that our offense had stuck together, made some first downs and grinded it out against a real physical group, so at that point I felt pretty confident that we would be able to end the game there with the ball in our hands.”
And so the play-call came in. The call was simple; a power run up the middle to Jones. The veteran took the handoff, going up and over the pile of defenders just as a running back would do near the goal line. If Jones had to get six inches, he may have gotten nine.
“You should’ve seen the huddle,” Cassel said. “You walk into that huddle and I tell the guys we’re going for it, the linemen light up, the running backs light up. It was a pretty special moment to be in that huddle and achieve what we wanted to. We knew if we got that first down, the game was over.”
“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Jones said afterwards. “I just reacted to what they did. They went down to the ground, so the linemen tried to keep them there and gave me an opportunity to go up and over the top.”
If you follow this site on Twitter, you can literally follow along with my thoughts as the games go along and I was clear that I would kick the ball. In my mind, trust Colquitt to put the ball inside the 10 and force Seneca Wallace to beat you.
What do I know?
Jones made a great play, easily got the yardage (I didn’t even think they needed a review) and the rest, as they say, is history. The Chiefs are 2-0, alone atop the AFC West and (almost all) is well in the Kansas City sports world.
After all, as Herm Edwards loved to remind us, you play to win the game. You don’t play it to just play it.