The question is ironic as it is cruel: Can the Kansas City Chiefs let THIS one go?
The way Jamaal Charles let go of the ball with 27 seconds left on the clock, the game tied at 24-all? Or the way the star tailback coughed it up in the first quarter, with 8:20 left and the Chiefs at the Denver 6 yard-line, with a chance to put the hosts on the board first?
Give it away over five times, kids, even at home, and at some point, the football gods stop listening to your prayers.
Also, ya get what you deserve.
Broncos 31, Chiefs 24.
Red Thursday, meet Blue Friday.
“I caused us the loss (Thursday night),” said Charles, whose fumbles marred a 125-yard rushing performance. “I tried to put the team on my back and I ended up losing the game. It’s all on me (Thursday night).”
Ordinarily, Week 2 shouldn’t define a season, much less end it. There’s too much water to come, too many bridges left to cross, miles to go before you sleep.
But no one in red at Arrowhead Stadium is going to get much sleep after this one. Not a stinking peep.
“Ugly,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce mused. “That was ugly, man. We killed ourselves. We killed ourselves. Give credit to (the Broncos) for going out there and playing, man. If we take care of business on the offensive end — myself, with three false starts. We had five turnovers. You can’t win in the NFL doing that.”
Not here. Not anywhere.
There isn’t enough sugar in the world to coat the final two minutes and 26 seconds of Thursday night. The Chiefs (1-1) were riding high, backup tailback Knile Davis following a wall of blockers to his left, including tackle Donald Stephenson, into the end zone for an eight-yard score that put the hosts up 23-17 with 147 seconds remaining.
All the best defense in the division had to do was hang on tight and hold serve.
Instead, old questions — coach Andy Reid in big games, quarterback Alex Smith in big games — returned.
Instead, No. 18 went to work.
Second-and-10 at the Denver 42? A 17-yard toss to Demaryius Thomas.
Third-and-eight from the Kansas City 39? Thomas again, this time for 15.
Third-and-10 from the Kansas City 19 with 40 seconds left? Post route to Emmanuel Sanders, cutting from the left side of the formation in front of cornerback Jamell Fleming, for the game-tying score.
On Redcoat Drive, Peyton Manning is the monster in the horror film that just won’t stay dead.Thursday was his 14th career victory over the Chiefs against just one defeat.
But even he was a mere spectator for the insanity yet to come. On 1st-and-10 at his own 20, gut still aching from the Manning punch, Reid came out with a shotgun formation and had Smith hand off to Charles, the surest hands on his roster.
One yard into the pile, the unthinkable descended like a shroud. Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall punched at the rock, cornerback Bradley Roby scooped it up and zoomed 21 yards the other way, with half the Chiefs in pursuit, the other half stunned. A nightmare upheld by replay review.
In a statement game, against the kings of the AFC West, the Chiefs surrendered two touchdowns at the end of the show.
Over a span of 10 seconds.
“I just don’t feel good right now,” Charles said after the game. “It’s one of the hardest feelings right now that I’ve felt in a long time.”
Because, oh, how the stars were aligned. Warm night. Full house. National stage. Chiefs alums who’d played in Super Bowls I and IV, introduced at halftime to a rousing ovation of nostalgia and reverence.
And then … that.
Reid, seemingly outthinking himself at almost every turn, but especially inside the red zone. An offensive line that had held up just enough in Houston melting at the wrong places and at the wrong times (four sacks surrendered). Inopportune penalties (nine for 60 yards), inconsistent execution (0-for-7 on third down) and an ineffective return game (3.8 yards per punt return).
Turn it over five times, kids, especially at home, and you’re not ready for prime time. Not yet.
So after a short week to prepare, the Andy Gang now gets two weekends off before a visit to Green Bay to try and salvage their pride. The Broncos (2-0), meanwhile, escape with an NFL record 13th straight road win against a divisional opponent. Chiefs faithful should tip their caps.
Once they’re done throwing up in them, of course.