The smokers were billowing and the barbeque beans were boiling at seemingly every tailgate party. The fans of Kansas City savored every moment of Sunday's playoff show.
And why shouldn't they?
Sure, the Chiefs have had a few playoff showings during their seventeen-year playoff win drought, but this time around, the vibe seemed different somehow. The vast majority of prognosticators had the Ravens with a victory, but that didn't stop the optimism in the parking lots. And there was a legitimate reason for it.
But this is what Scott Pioli has been striving for since his arrival: changing the losing mentality that has poisoned this organization for decades.
I took this opportunity to sit with the fans this week. The press box simply could not give me the perspective I needed.
No, on this day I had to be in the thick of it. And between the "Hali, Hali, Hali" chants, I knew I had made the right choice. The respect given to Hali only paled in comparison to the respect that was given to this franchise that, honestly, had little reason receive after what this team has offered in over the past five years.
The Arrowhead faithful brought their A-game today and the passion and drive that was felt in the stands permeated onto the field as the Chiefs proved they were more than just the winners of a terrible division.
Kansas City proved that they deserved to be the host of a wild card playoff contest. But more than that, they proved that they are going to be as contender heading into the 2011 season.
More than the final score, this game meant much more to this franchise than just what goes down in the win-loss column. This game was about bringing back a winning mentality to this organization, which is something that has been lacking for sometime now.
In fact, it's been seventeen years since the Chiefs won a playoff game, and the importance of a solid showing was invaluable going forward. These were not the same circumstances that we saw back in 2006 when the Chiefs fell business-end backward into the playoffs and were promptly cast aside by the much more talented Indianapolis Colts team.
The sign on the video boards kept reading "right now, we need you" and the announced attendance of 72,190 did their part through the entirety of the contest. Even the club level, which has been publicly notorious for being patchy, were much more prevalent than we have seen all season long.
Unfortunately, the will of the Kansas City faithful was not enough to get this team its first playoff victory in seventeen years, but they stood proud and tall. The scoreboard today will not reflect what this team has accomplished this season. Make no mistake about it: this Chiefs team has officially arrived.
Ending the season on a loss is tough, but let's not forget our expectations coming into this season. The best anyone thought this team would finish was 8-8 and it's undeniable that this team exceeded all expectations this season.
The stadium was empty as the Ravens ran out the clock in the fourth quarter, but this should not be viewed as a knock on the fans of this Chiefs franchise.
This time last season, the Chiefs faithful were watching the fortunate few lucky enough to be in the playoffs. Let's not forget that the Chiefs' final home game last season was blacked out. This team's fan base has stuck with them through it all and should be proud of their efforts this season.
The Chiefs finished the 2010 NFL season with a 7-2 home record, and despite how it ended, there is little doubt that the magic has returned to Arrowhead.
Though it's hard to say today, this team accomplished a lot this season. And even though Scott Pioli , Todd Haley, and these players might not be happy with the way it ended, this season was a success in the eyes of the faithful fans that never lost hope.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
If you were at Arrowhead on Sunday, what did you think about the atmosphere?
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