Rude Awakening

Not that fans around Kansas City need any reminding, but for nearly two decades, almost every postseason appearance the Chiefs have made has been marred by the team turning in a disappointing stinker of a game.

After Sunday's 31-10 drubbing at the hands of the Raiders, maybe we should be thankful that the Chiefs got it out of their system early this time.

Inaccurate throws, dropped passes, poor protection, weak defense, distractions by a coordinator on the move. All we needed was Ryan Succop to miss a few gimmies and the game would have encapsulated most of the last seventeen years of K.C. playoff failures.

Since the Chiefs already had a playoff spot wrapped up going into this game, a lot of discussion over the past week revolved around whether or not they should rest their starters. The lopsided score and the abuse taken by Matt Cassel and Jamaal Charles make it easy to second-guess that decision, but who can really say? Maybe getting this kind of wakeup call right on the eve of the playoffs will prove to be just what the team needed.

We've talked in the past about the Chiefs' ability to bounce back this season. When a 3-0 start turned to 3-2, they recovered. When their 5-2 record became 5-4, they rattled off three straight wins. And after getting hammered by San Diego in a key AFC West showdown, the Chiefs didn't lose again until they'd already won the division.

In their three "bounce-back" games – coming after the losses to Indy/Houston, Oakland/Denver, and San Diego – the Chiefs beat their opponents by a margin of 100-46. So far this season, each time they've gotten a bitter taste in their mouths, they've been able to wash it away.

Of course, we've also talked about the fact that those games haven't come against the stiffest competition, which certainly won't be the case in the playoffs. But regardless of the opponents involved, there's no question that the Chiefs appeared to play with some extra motivation and intensity in those games.

That certainly seems like a good sign heading into next weekend. Both the Chiefs' players and coaches should be angry at ending the regular season on such a sour note. Ideally, that should make for some spirited practices at Arrowhead this week, and hopefully a re-focused, fired-up squad taking the field the next time out.

And that's all we can hope for, anyway. Because the alternative – that Sunday's game was just a sneak-peek of the crushing disappointment we're in store for – is just too depressing to think about.

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