Most of us in the media and other Chiefs fans are just as red in the face now that a majority of our weeklong predictions of a shocking victory fell flat. I'm sure you guys had just the same expectations as we all did. The NFL is the most balanced sports league in terms of letting teams arise and other teams tumble. The power struggle in the NFL always changes, so why not expect the Chiefs to finally topple their pestering foes from the Hoosier state?
Chiefs fans, players, and coaches were overly cocky heading into Sunday's game. We all felt that somehow this Chiefs team that hasn't had a winning season since 2006 would somehow stun a team that's been to two Super Bowls since then.
After all, the Colts' defense was hurting, and they headed into the game 2-2, both losses coming from tough divisional foes. Kansas City boasted one of the best rushing attacks, and the Chiefs' overall offense was clicking after stomping the San Francisco 49ers in their previous game. Not to mention, the defense was finally up to par with stopping the reigning NFL MVP, Peyton Manning.
Well, no matter how hard we all dreamed, the Chiefs lost. Not only did the team lose, but also they literally beat themselves with their own mistakes. Those kinds of losses are more painful than a simple overtime loss by a field goal or a blowout of epic proportions.
Chiefs frustrated Peyton Manning on Sunday afternoon.
The lesson that needs to be learned in the meantime is that the Chiefs and their fans can't boast their swagger just yet. Yes, we know the national media hasn't spoken too much about this team, and frankly, I'd feel more comfortable if they didn't.
Looking back on the 2001 NFL season, the New England Patriots didn't get much respect until everybody wondered how the heck they got into the Super Bowl in the first place. The team rose from nowhere and by the time everybody was scratching their heads, Adam Vinatieri was busy kicking field goals to get the team past the Oakland Raiders in the "tuck rule" game and in the final seconds of Super Bowl XXXVI. Only then did the team, led by folks like Scott Pioli and company, have unquestionable authority over the rest of the league.
That's the route which the Chiefs should take from now on. We can't have a team going on the road and attempting an onside kick as if we're defecating on the team's turf. The Chiefs still have lots to prove, and they can't just act like they rule the league just yet.
The Chiefs have won only seven games while under head coach Todd Haley. For a team to attempt an onside kick is pretty gutsy, especially on the road on the first play of the game. I would have loved that onside kick had it resulted in a scoring drive, but of course it didn't. All that play did was leave the Chiefs red-faced in front of the entire nation. This same team, after looking like fools on the failed kick, attempted to score on fourth down – in the first quarter.
Somebody should have checked to see if an extra boost of ego was getting mixed into the Gatorade. Something crazy was going on where the Chiefs thought they could walk on water.
This is real football not Maddens' NFL version.
Listen. The NFL is not the same as playing one of the Madden NFL video games. I can turn on my video game console and kick-start a quick game of Madden and inflict as much humiliation as possible on my virtual opponent. The thing is, it's not reality, and it's just me laughing it up at a TV screen for an hour. In the NFL, you can't change the difficulty level to "very easy" or turn off penalties in the option screen.
Haley and his coaching staff can't assume that their opponents are stupid. When you're down 3-0, be safe and kick the field goal to tie the game. Don't be silly and attempt a fourth down conversion in the beginning of the game. Take a deep breath, coach, and let the rest of the game play out. Nobody's rushing you.
Now I can understand going on fourth down at the end of the game, especially when you're down and scrounging for a comeback victory. That's basically when those types of attempts come.
Yeah, the opponent is going to expect it, but more importantly, it makes you look less foolish. It's far less unprecedented and it doesn't matter if you convert it or not. You don't look like an idiot boasting to the world that you have a better record than your opponent.
The problem is, the Chiefs didn't go for it on fourth down late in the game. They opted to give Ryan Succop a shot at connecting on his fourth field goal of the day. Not surprisingly, he missed it. The missed kick just added to the humiliation that the team already endured.
Kicker Ryan Succop needs to get back to kick-offs.
The Chiefs travel to Houston to play the Texans this coming Sunday, and now there's less overt talk of a victory. Not because the Texans are heavy favorites, but because Kansas City learned in Indianapolis how it feels to get tar-and-feathered. Let's hope that this 19-9 loss gives the team enough to get them fired up to make sure those mistakes don't happen again. That way we all don't get so red faced if history repeats itself.
Now to turn on the inner nerd switch and connect with other movie geeks, I'd like to end this open letter with homage to Star Wars. As Han Solo rebuked a giddy Luke Skywalker after Skywalker shot down an enemy, he barked back, "Great kid, don't get cocky."
Take advice, everybody. Remember that there are 31 other teams in the NFL hoping to win just as badly as the Chiefs do. There's plenty of work to be done. Let's just take a deep breath and get this mud off of our faces.