Neither game was easy, nor were they a thing of beauty. What's clear after seven games is the Chiefs have a much stronger defense than they did a year ago as they withstood a fourth quarter onslaught by San Diego's offense.
After giving up a touchdown and a two-point conversion, tying the score at 20, the defense stepped up in the final seconds of regulation as Chiefs' linebacker Andy Studebaker picked up a loose ball and saved the game for his entire team. Had he not, the Chargers would have kicked a chip shot field goal to win the game and KC's valiant effort would have all been for naught.
At this point, with two more home games on the horizon, the Chiefs can afford to shore up some of their defensive deficiencies the next two weeks as they continue to find their identity. And let's face it when you create four turnovers, as they did against the Chargers, your defense is playing some gutsy football.
Now, thanks to four straight wins and two more winnable games at Arrowhead against the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos, this team has taken control of its destiny.
Credit is due to both general manager Scott Pioli (for assembling the roster) and head coach Todd Haley for getting the players to throw away their 0-3 start and take it upon themselves to rise above the chaos that led many to believe their season was over in September.
With this overtime thriller at Arrowhead in hand, the Chiefs' offense can now ride the next couple of weeks to tinker with the offense and create a cohesiveness that includes, running backs Dexter McCluster, Jackie Battle and rookie wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin.
Baldwin showed his immense skills in the first quarter when caught a 39-yard touchdown pass. Battle started running over and through the Chargers' defense in the fourth quarter and his one-yard touchdown gave the Chiefs an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter. In overtime, it was McCluster who proved his worth by wearing down the Chargers' defense, with three critical catches from Matt Cassel.
And speaking of Cassel, after the Chargers had pulled to within a single point late in the third quarter at 13-12, he led the Chiefs' offense on one of their biggest drives of the night. The 10-play, 74-yard drive ended when Battle dove into the end zone giving the Chiefs a 20-12 lead.
On the drive Cassel managed the clock, converted a couple of third downs and perfectly executed the offense to go up by eight points. But more importantly, he gave KC's defense some much needed rest.
Defensively the Chiefs worked their tails off. In the first half alone they picked off Philip Rivers twice and forced another fumble, which was one of the reasons San Diego was held to four field goals midway through the final quarter.
Sure, the Chargers tied the game and nearly won it. But the defense, gassed in overtime, held San Diego to a three and out after they won the coin toss. Cassel then led the Chiefs down the field.
After kicker Ryan Succop nailed the 30-yard game winner, the Chiefs stood 4-3 in a three-way tie with the Chargers and Raiders.
Now, anything is possible, and if you truly are drinking the Chiefs Kool-Aid after their Monday night overtime win, it's pretty easy to think they can keep winning games that could result in another AFC West title.
Four weeks ago, who would have thought that?
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Are the Chiefs a legit first-place team?
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