With the Chiefs out of the playoffs, we decided to look back at the entire season: the ups, downs, and outright bizzare moments. The review will be posted in three parts, this being part 2. If you missed part 1, check it out here.
Riding a three game win streak and atop the AFC West, the Chiefs looked poised to reclaim the AFC West Title. Their next two obstacles: Miami and Denver. Miami dominated Kansas City from the opening kickoff in a 31-3 thrashing in a game that saw Reggie Bush gash the Chiefs defense for 142 total yards from scrimmage. Kansas City was now 4-4 with Tim Tebow, and the suddenly hot Denver Broncos coming to Arrowhead.
The Chiefs felt as if they were very well prepared for Tebow and the Broncos collegiate style offense. I mean after all, option style offenses can’t work in the NFL can they? Oh, but they can, Tim Tebow and the Broncos were proof of that. Tebow completed only 2 passes in the game, but one was a 56-yard bomb to Eric Decker that all but iced the game for the Broncos. Denver’s high-octane rushing offense ran up 244 rushing yards even without their two main backs, Willis McGahee and Knowshawn Moreno en route to a 17-10 win. Matt Cassel had arguably his worst game as a Chief, going 13/28 for only 93 yards. Cassel also suffered a broken thumb on his throwing hand, which sidelined him for the remainder of the season. The Chiefs had lost their starting running back, safety, and quarterback and the Tyler Palko era in Kansas City was set to begin.
Kansas City was in serious trouble; they were suddenly sitting at 4-5 and in last place in the AFC West with games against New England, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and the New York Jets next on the schedule. Their playoff hopes looked bleak. Even worse for the Chiefs, Tyler Palko was set to take over for Matt Cassel in the wake of Cassel’s thumb injury. Palko had never taken a snap in a regular season NFL game, and was never successful in the collegiate ranks at Pittsburgh. Fans clamored for Ricky Stanzi, the Chiefs 5th round draft pick from the years previous draft, from the University of Iowa to take over at the helm. Alas, it never happened.
The Chiefs proceeded to lose the following two games to New England and Pittsburgh, both games televised nationally, by a combined score of 47-12. The Chiefs had only scored 1 offensive touchdown in its last 4 games, and talks of a change at the head coaching position began to surface. Todd Haley’s refusal to play newly acquired quarterback Kyle Orton or rookie Ricky Stanzi in favor of Tyler Palko ultimately cost him his job after an embarrassing 37-10 loss at the hands of the New York Jets. Pioli could take no more of the anemic offense. It was no secret that Todd Haley and Scott Pioli, the team’s general manager, did not enjoy each other’s company and the firing of Haley did not come as much of a surprise. It looked as if the team simply quit on Haley, and a change was certainly necessary. Romeo Crennel, Chiefs defensive coordinator, took over as the interim head coach. The season was slowly beginning to unravel for the Chiefs.
However, just when everyone thought the season was lost, the unthinkable happened. Newly appointed head coach Romeo Crennel and his Kansas City Chiefs played the game of their lives as they held Aaron Rodgers and the unstoppable Packers offense to only 308 yards of total offense in a 19-14 win for Kansas City at Arrowhead. It was Green Bay’s first loss of the season. The Chiefs front 7 pressured Rodgers all day in forcing 5 sacks, 3 by all-pro defensive end Tamba Hali. Kyle Orton threw for 299 yards in his Chiefs debut, and the Chiefs ground attack led by Jackie Battle rushed for 135 in Kansas City’s best offensive game of the season. The NFL community was stunned, and the Chiefs season still had meaning.
Week 16 arrived with the Chiefs sitting at 6-8, but still in contention for their first back-to-back AFC West championship in franchise history. If the Chiefs could somehow find victory in their remaining two games, home against the hated Raiders (5-0 at Arrowhead since 2005) and away against Tebow and the Denver Broncos, the Chiefs would be playoff bound.
Stay tuned for the final part, Part 3.