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 3. If you missed part 1, check it out here. If you missed part 2, check it out here.
The Chiefs had put themselves in a position to potentially win the AFC West. Since Denver had lost, if the Chiefs would have won and then beat Denver, they would have been in the playoffs. In a game that saw an NFL record 28 penalties committed between the Chiefs and Raiders and a complete lack of offensive firepower, the Raiders in the end had enough to edge the Chiefs 16-13 in overtime, a loss that knocked the Chiefs out of playoff contention. Kansas City had a chance to win the game in regulation with a 50 yard field goal from Ryan Succop, but it was blocked by Oakland.
The Raiders went on to win the always important coin toss, and on the first play from scrimmage in the extra session, Carson Palmer hit Darius Heyward-Bey on a 52 yard bomb to set the Raiders up for the game winning field goal by Sebastian Janikowski.
For all intensive purposes, the Chiefs season was over. They were eliminated from playoff contention, but the Chiefs could bounce rival Denver from the playoffs with a win next week at Mile High and a Raider win at the Coliseum against San Diego.
The Chiefs had played some ugly, unwatchable games throughout the course of the season, but the season finale definitely was the worst of the bunch. Neither offense could muster anything; with the only touchdown of the game scored by Dexter McCluster on a 21 yard scamper at the end of the 2nd quarter. Tebow and the Broncos offense were held to only 3 points as rookie Justin Houston recorded 7 tackles and a couple sacks in a 7-3 Chiefs victory.
Despite the Denver loss, they still managed to sneak into the playoffs as AFC West Champions at 8-8. They’ll host Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round.
However, the final game provided some hope for the Chiefs and their fans. The Chiefs have a very young, talented core of players especially on the defensive side of the ball led by Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Justin Houstin, Brandon Carr, Brandon Flowers, and Kendrick Lewis. The defense as whole, even with the loss of Berry in the season opener, made huge strides under Romeo Crennel.
The Chiefs ranked 11th in total defense, and Derrick Johnson ranked 10th in the league in tackles with 131. While the defense adjusted well to injuries, the offense had a tough time doing so. They ranked 27th in total offense averaging just over 13 points per game.
There are several questions surrounding this team heading into the off-season, but the most important one revolves around the head coach. Who will be the head coach of this team moving forward into 2012? Many around the organization believe it will be interim coach Romeo Crennel as he has done a fantastic job of guiding the team to a 2-1 finish down the stretch including a stunning 19-14 victory over Green Bay in his debut. Some believe Jeff Fisher or Kirk Ferentz will be the next to dawn the red and gold, but my money is on Crennel. He’s familiar with Pioli and his “Patriot way” and won’t ask for too much power as far as personnel is concerned.
The quarterback position is also an area of uncertainty for the Chiefs. Should the Chiefs go with Orton who impressed down the stretch, or should they stick with Matt Cassel? Perhaps they trade up to acquire highly touted prospect Robert Griffin III, but it seems unlikely. The Chiefs will be 50 million dollars under the cap heading into next season, so don’t expect Kansas City to sit pat. Offensive line, defensive line, quarterback and linebacker are all areas in which the Chiefs will likely improve via free agency or even the draft. With money to spend, Charles, Cassel, Berry, and Moeaki returning, the Chiefs should be chopping to the playoffs in 2012.
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.