Chiefs were playing out on the coast against San Diego. I presumed that this would be a very late game and not feature in the television coverage here in the UK. I was watching Denver get thumped by Indianapolis - always entertaining to see Denver lose! - when the score from San Diego started to appear on the ticker. Must have been an early kick-off.
By half-time the score was 16-6 in favour of the home team and I could see that: A) LT (LaDainian Tomlinson) had already rushed for over 100 yards and B) the Chiefs had failed to mount much of an offence (again!). i was tired after working all day, so I went to bed, secure in the knowledge that when I checked on the final score on Monday I would find that the Chiefs would be 1-3 and KC coach, Herm Edwards, would have benched quarterback Damon Huard at half-time and gone with Brodie Croyle at QB for the second half - all in vain of course.
I was pleasantly wrong!
Damon Huard played the whole game and completed 17 of 29 passes for 284 yards, comfortably eclipsing Sand Diego QB, Philip Rivers. LT did rush for 132 yards, but most of them were in the first half. After the break, the Chiefs effectively closed him down. But, the real story was the performance of first year wide receiver, Dwayne Bowe, who grabbed 8 Huard passes for 164 yards and a TD. His yardage was the second best this week by a receiver in the NFL. This is only his fourth game.
More impressively, the Chiefs defence did not allow a score in the second half.
Back to Bowe. He has after only four games shown that he is the pass threat the Chiefs have been missing for some time. When things go wrong; it's the QB who get the blame. Bowe is the QB's best friend! He is the deep threat the Chiefs haven't had for some time. He is the "go over the middle, jump high, catch the ball and get hit" kind of receiver that all teams need. He can make yards after the catch. What started out as likely to be a rebuilding year now looks very different. Bowe has almost done this single-handed.
Lest we get carried away, it's well to remember that he is a rookie - and, therefore, likely to make mistakes. But, if he stays healthy, he could turn an average season into something else.
For example: I remember foolishly forecasting that the Chiefs would massacre the Indianapolis Colts in the play-offs when they last met at Arrowhead - say two seasons ago. After all, at that time the Colts game was entirely based on Peyton Manning being able to read defenses and changing the calls at the line of scrimmage. This, I was convinced, he would not be able to do at Arrowhead with the loudest crowd in the NFL baying for his blood. Unfortunately, I was wrong and the Colts won.
So, when the Chiefs went to Indy to play then again in the first round of the play-offs last year, again I foolishly forecast a Chiefs win. I reasoned: the Colts have the worst run defense in the NFL. Chiefs have 2000 yard tailback, Larry Johnson. Therefore, the Chiefs will run the ball at will and all day. The high-powered Colts offense will never get the ball. Chiefs win. Wrong again. In the post season the Colts suddenly, and mysteriously, managed to shut down the run - full stop. The mystery? They put nine men in the box, because they didn't think the Chiefs could throw. They were right.
That makes me 0-2 in forecasting Chiefs play-off games.
It's a bit early to start predicting, but Dwayne Bowe could be a large part of the answer to the Chiefs problems. For, while they have had Johnson to run the ball, they have had almost no-one to catch it! And, almost no defense.
Now, with running lanes opened up because the opposition cannot put nine men in the box, ala Indy, if they hope to cover Bowe adequately; thereby allowing Johnson to be more effective on the ground; and, with Bowe's threat opening space for some other receivers (Tony Gonzales for one!) - the Chiefs might have some balance in their offence.
Suddenly they have discovered a defense to boot!
No points allowed in the second half of the last two games. One swallow does not a summer make - but it's looking good!
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