In road losses on the final drives of the game against, both the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers, the Chiefs left wins on the field. Against the San Diego Chargers the team was in the exact same position to make it a hat trick of futility.
This time the result was different as Kicker, Cairo Santos, nailed a 48-yard field goal giving the Chiefs a 23-20 victory and brining their regular season record to a respectable 3-3 mark.
For Santos, it was the longest kick of his career and could not have come at a better time for Kansas City. Had this team lost this game on Sunday, the Chiefs would have all but fallen out of the AFC West race.
Now with the toughest part of their schedule out of the way the Chiefs can run the table with a strong of victories that could catapult them back into the playoff hunt. With ten games remaining the Chiefs schedule becomes very pedestrian.
Still the Chiefs came eerily close to losing this game in large part to a pair of potential touchdown opportunities by Junior Hemingway and A.J. Jenkins. In whiffing on both players, it certainly left one the feeling they were destined to lose this game.
But in the second half, the Chargers could only manage two field goals while the Chiefs offense controlled the clock leaving all world quarterback, Philip Rivers on the sidelines praying his defense could make a stop. They didn’t make enough of them and that was the difference in this game.
The Chiefs offense led by Quarterback, Alex Smith, did his best to game manage his team to it’s third victory of the season. However, in money time with less than two minutes left on the clock, deep in his own territory and the score tied 20-20, he made the throws that mattered.
His success on the drive fueled the opportunity that ultimately gave Santos a chance to prove he belonged in the NFL. After a lengthy training camp battle with Ryan Succop, and some missed field goals early in the year, he delivered in the biggest moment for his team.
On the other sideline, Rivers didn’t have his best day in large part to a Chiefs defense that was led by a plethora of unproven performers. Players such as rookie cornerbacks, Phillip Gaines, Jamell Fleming and safety Kurt Coleman, played big against Rivers and company.
The youngsters managed to come up big and did just enough to knock down some great throws by Rivers. In particular, Gaines played above his rookie pay scale and showed why the Chiefs were so high on him when they drafted the former Rice standout last May.
Now this game wasn’t without some major flaws and bungling mistakes by the Chiefs. Once again Kansas City receivers dropped some easy catches that would have made their final drive unnecessary. Still, they found a way to win ,and it was all three phases, that won this football game for Kansas City.
The offense played smash mouth football, the defense never bent in the second half and the special teams led by Santos, made the kicks that needed to go through the uprights.
There is no doubt the better football team didn’t win on Sunday afternoon. Sorry Chiefs fans but let’s be honest. The Chargers are still the class of the division, yes even above the Denver Broncos, but this loss could bring them back down to reality. With their 5-2 start, the Chargers hadn’t defeated anyone of substance outside of the Seattle Seahawks, who haves suddenly become human.
Now they get to travel to Denver next Thursday with their AFC West division hops facing a must win game against the Broncos. The Chiefs get a pair of back-to-back home games against the St. Louis Rams and New York Jets. After those Arrowhead contests, Kansas City travels to play the Bills in Buffalo before returning home to face the aforementioned Seahawks.
Had the Chiefs lost this game, and ruined the buzz this city feels over their World Series Bounds, Kansas City Royals, the blame game would have reach new heights about the football team and fans would have left the building for the winter.
Now the Chiefs can take a sigh of relief, the most brutal six games stretch of the season is well behind them. Now they can retool their thoughts about becoming a playoff team in January and keep their AFC West championship homes alive.
The Chargers, with injuries mounting are flawed on defense. The Broncos aren’t the same powerhouse they were a year ago.
Still there is some Karma in play right now for the Chiefs. Perhaps the fact many Chiefs fans left the team for dead after entering this game with a 2-3 record, it’s very similar in nature to the position the Royals were in after a post all star game losing streak, that left them all but without hope of becoming a playoff team.
Perhaps the Chiefs took a cue from the Royals, despite their numerous mistakes in this game on Sunday, that they refused to accept another fourth quarter loss on the road. This time they dug deep and found a way to deliver a knockout punch on the Chargers.
In the end, I guess it really doesn’t matter how the Chiefs won this football game Instead, it’s the way they won their game against the Chargers that could be the launching pad for a successful playoff run.