Cassel Proves His Worth

It had to happen sooner or later. The Chiefs' defense would resemble the one we've seen in Kansas City the last decade, and quarterback Matt Cassel would shine.

But this is a team loss, and it's a bitter one that could change the fortunes of this football team for better or for worse. Still the star on Sunday was KC's embattled quarterback.

There is no question that the Chiefs had this game. They had it up 21-7 in the middle of the third quarter, but couldn't put the hammer down. This game is a microcosm of the Chiefs coaches trying to be too fancy.

The game plan was solid running the ball up and down the field. That opened up the passing lanes for Matt Cassel. But despite completing 20 of 29 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns, Cassel couldn't deliver in either of the Chiefs final two possessions.

Though he made leaps and bounds, everyone should be satisfied that against a terrible defense, he can make all the throws. It helped that wide receiver Dwayne Bowe caught everything thrown his way.

Bowe found the end zone twice and made some key third down catches to shake off last week's terrible performance against the Colts. Both players redeemed themselves mightily.

But everyone needs to back-off Cassel. It's clear that the coaching staff wasn't in sync for parts of the game. That was the true culprit in the Chiefs 35-31 loss.

In fact, there were moments when Cassel was the best quarterback on the field. For two plus quarters, he was far better than his counterpart for Houston, Matt Schaub.

In the end, though, Shaub made the plays and Cassel didn't. But like I said, I can't stress enough that this game is at the egos of the coordinators, special teams included.

What was Steve Hoffman doing kicking short kick-offs? His units have been stellar all season long. Why give the Texans a short field. Twice that happened and both times the Texans scored quick touchdowns.

As for Weis, up 21-14 late in the third quarter with four downs to score from the six-yard line, he called two pass plays that failed. They weren't even close to being completions. Had he ran the ball three times, the Chiefs likely score seven points instead of three.

And that was the difference in the game.

On the critical 3rd and 2 call with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Weis put the ball in Cassel's hands on a sellout blitz by the Texans that resulted in an errant pass to rookie tight end Tony Moeaki. All he needed to do was run the ball twice if need be and the game would have been over.

Cassel was nearly flawless on Sunday.
Getty Images



I'm not going to blast Cassel for missing the mark on that throw or for his sack on the last play of the game. He did his job Sunday. For the first time this season, he looked like a starting quarterback.

Now looking forward the Chiefs can exploit a week schedule ahead and remain in charge of the AFC West the remainder of the season.

But they have to start winning again. Through five games the Chiefs stand 3-2. They've played the toughest part of their schedule and Cassel appears on a track of respectability.

And based on his play Sunday, that should be good enough to get the Chiefs to ten wins. Right now that doesn't carry much weight considering the way this team lost on Sunday. But this team is still in great shape.

Still, knowing the competitive nature of Cassel, I bet he feels he didn't do enough to win this game for his team. The danger in losing a game like this one is that he doesn't take the positives away from a solid performance.

Looking ahead this is going to be the most important week in Todd Haley's tenure. He has to be very careful in how he handles Cassel.

The rest of the team will be OK, though it appears that Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers won't be sleeping much this week after the pass interference penalty that didn't go his way late in the game.

But Romeo Crennel, who called a horrific game, and Weis, who also has to question his late game play-calling, will be able to get things right.

That, however, won't help Cassel. He's the key to the Chiefs entire 2010 fortunes. And with the AFC West sitting at 2-4 on the season, Kansas City rolled up consecutive losses at Indy and Houston while not losing any ground in the standings.

So they played with house chips and lost most of them. But I can tell you that neither the Colts nor the Texans want anything to do with the Chiefs should they meet in the playoffs in January.

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