Kansas City @ Green Bay – Rewind
1. Trent Green was nearly perfect in this game. Take away the five dropped passes and this game may never have gone into overtime. He shut up all his critics with an outstanding three touchdown, 400-yard performance that reminded every Kansas City Chiefs fan that our quarterback could lead us in brilliant fashion on the road with his team trailing in the fourth quarter. Last year in week five; Green came alive against the Dolphins and it just took him a little time to get on track in 2003. In the last three weeks, he's thrown six touchdowns and only one interception. For his efforts on Sunday, Green was named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Week.
2. Dante Hall did it again. No he didn't score a touchdown. But he kept the Packers special teams off balance. The first two kick offs sailed out of bounds but the Chiefs could not capitalize. Hall almost broke one in the second quarter but he was tripped up by the punter. I would love to be in the meetings this week when the players review the tape of the game. But Hall had a big return in the fourth quarter that set up the Chiefs in Packers territory. That play was the catalyst for the comeback.
3. Tony Gonzalez had the best and worst game of the season by his own admission. Gonzalez did manage to score a touchdown for a third consecutive week and make a nifty catch and run in the fourth quarter that set up the game tying field goal. But he had four dropped passes in crucial situations. The last one with the Chiefs down by three points and under .30 seconds left in the game. He was open over the middle and Green through a pass that Gonzalez should have snagged. But on the final play of the game, Gonzalez drew the double team from the safety and Kennison was man on man. So Tony can't be too upset with his performance.
4. Johnnie Morton is proving to be a big play receiver. His performance in the first half was not by design. Morton much maligned after a tough 2002 season made catch after catch. In the first quarter with the Chiefs trailing 14-0, he caught a pass on the five-yard line and stiffed arm the Packers cornerback and leaped toward and stretched the ball out over the goal line for the Chiefs first touchdown of the day. He's quickly becoming Green's go to receiver.
5. Eddie Kennison continues to amaze me. It seems to me that he's slow and drops way too many passes in crucial situations but he made the play of the game on offense in overtime. He had Packers cornerback Bhawoh Jue thinking the game was in Kansas City. He executed a perfect stop and go move that Jue never recovered from. Kennison caught a prefect pass from Green at the 20-yard line and sprinted into the end zone for the game winner.
6. How big is it for Kansas City to have safety Jerome Woods back in the lineup. His 79-yard interception return for a touchdown catapulted the Chiefs back into the game. With the Packers once again moving the ball at will, Woods caught the ball before it hit the ground on an errant pass from Brett Favre. Dexter McCleon cut off Driver and all he could do was tip the ball right into the waiting fingertips of Woods. That play gave the rest of the team life. Woods was not done. He knocked the ball out of Packers running back Ahman Green in overtime that was recovered by Mike Maslowski and the Chiefs won the game on the next play.
7. Thank goodness the Chiefs have a kicker. Morten Andersen made two short clutch field goals in regulation to get the game into overtime. Although he missed the 49-yard attempt in the Chiefs first possession of overtime, not many could blame him for kicking the ball low into a stiff wind. The Packers just managed to get a fingertip on the ball and it fell harmlessly twenty yards downfield. Based on the trajectory of the ball there was little doubt that he would have made the game winning kick.
8.Priest Holmes looked a bit out of sorts until overtime when he ran the ball nine consecutive times. It seems to me that he's not cutting as sharp as he was before the injury. Holmes says that he's about 90% and the difference between being 100% is muscle memory. You know what? That sounds good to me.
9. What Lambeau jinx? The Chiefs are now 3-0 all time at Lambeau field and their seventeen point comeback in the fourth quarter was the largest turnaround in franchise history. Never has a team been down by that many points in the fourth quarter and whipped out a lead of that magnitude. Kudos to the Chiefs players for not giving up.
10. The defense made the stops when it had to. Yes they gave up another 400 plus yards on defense. But in the second half they only gave up 10 points and if they'd given up anymore, then the 20 points Kansas City scored would have meant very little. Small victories considering they now face six consecutive opponents with either a .500 or losing record. They'll have plenty of time to work out the kinks starting with Oakland next Monday Night.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders – Monday October 20, 2003
1. The Raiders are reeling after losing their second straight game on the road. This will be their watershed mark of the season. They're already eliminated from any chance at winning the division and the Chiefs need to go in with an attitude that the Raiders are undefeated. If they play to their 2003 record and not their 2002 record, they'll going to lose. I doubt that happens but this team is on the verge of being special and if they can get past the Raiders on Monday, they don't face a touch test until the 13th game against the Broncos on the road. A win would put their AFC West record at 3-0.
2. Tony Gonzalez usually has big games against the Raiders in Oakland. The Packers tried to cover Gonzalez with a corner back but they were unsuccessful. Gonzalez needs to get into the game early. The Raiders will put all their baskets into stopping Holmes and expect Gonzalez to be a featured target of Trent Green in the first half. Gonzalez needs three passes to become the Chiefs all time reception leader. With those catches, he will pass Henry Marshall for tops in Kansas City history.
3. The Raiders defense is beyond horrific. They are slow at the safety, defensive line and for the most part at linebacker. The Chiefs need to take advantage of their over exuberance on every possession. Green should be able to draw them off-sides on a regular basis with a hard count. Expect numerous play action passes and screens this week. The Raiders are susceptible to the play fake. Give them the chance and they'll over pursue on every play.
4. The Chiefs should also turn the table on the Raiders. They've yet to go for more home run balls, like they did to close out the Packers win, but that might change this week. Kansas City wants to strike often and early and not let the Raiders crowd get into the game. They also have a short week ahead before their bye week and if they can give Holmes some rest this week, that will go along way toward getting him ready for the Super Bowl run.
5. Kansas City must get rookie running back Larry Johnson into this game. If the Chiefs are blowing the Raiders out, then this will be the perfect game for Johnson. He has been slowed by a poor attitude and a tight hamstring but I'm not sold on Derrick Blaylock. If Holmes can't get back to 100%, then Johnson needs to be on the field. Holmes had some pretty big holes on Sunday against the Packers and was unable to get large gains. Johnson has younger and fresher legs. With a soft six game schedule ahead, Johnson needs to get some reps. He's their future not Blaylock.
6. The Chiefs need to put pressure on Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon. Defenses around the league this year have kept Gannon in the pocket and he's made mistakes or been unable to move the ball. Gannon likes to fling the ball from weird arm angles and the Chiefs need to take away those passing lanes. If Gannon is forced to stand in the pocket, he'll make mistakes or turn the ball over.
7. The word this week is blitz. The Raiders have no downfield playmakers unless injured wide out Jerry Porter is activated for this game. With no running game, the Chiefs soft defense could be in for a great game. Kansas City can take away the over the middle short routes that both Tim Brown and Jerry Rice run on every passing down. The Raiders only hope is to complete a series of short passes and try some play action. But without a consistent running game, Kansas City will be able to cheat on defense.
8. The Chiefs have lost their last three games in Oakland. None of them were close. But after winning in Lambeau field, Oakland seems like a cake walk. However, the Raiders fans are notorious for being abusive to the opposing teams and they HATE the Chiefs. But it will be interesting to see how they respond to their teams recent losing ways.
9. With Dick Vermeil on the sidelines, Kansas City won't overlook this game. The Raiders can and will be a test for the Chiefs. Vermeil knows that the Chiefs have plenty of room to improve. If they can find some first half consistency, then they should be in a position to win their seventh game in a row.
10. This will be the only Monday Night appearance for the Chiefs this season. They do play the Bills the following week on Sunday Night. On the other hand the Raiders have three Monday Night games and one Sunday Night game.
Around The AFC West
1. The Denver Broncos squeaked out a win at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-14. With an injured Jake Plummer, who might be injured more seriously than Denver is admitting, was replaced by Steve Beuerlein who struggled but made two amazing throws to Rod Smith that secured the win.
2. It was a costly win for the Broncos. They lost certain all-pro linebacker Ian Gold to a torn ACL. Gold has no peers at linebacker other than Ray Lewis. His loss could be costly to the Broncos however they still have Al Wilson and he can play the position better than most.
3. The Broncos did not run the ball well this week. Clinton Portis was held to 47 yards and he continues to struggle when the team does not efficiently pass the ball. Take out the big run a week ago against Kansas City and Portis has struggled for most of the Broncos games this season.
4. The Raiders 13-7 loss in Cleveland on Sunday was their fourth road defeat of the season. For the first time this year, Gannon looked really old at quarterback. He was flustered all day by an aggressive Browns defense.
5. In losing back to back road games against losing teams, the rumblings in Raider land have the players infighting. Gannon a solid team guy has become a cancer in the locker room and his outbursts on the sidelines and to his coaches are wearing thin on the team.
6. The Raiders gave up 145 yards rushing to William Green. The Raiders run defense is simply not reacting to the ball. They're defensive line was blown off the line of scrimmage on every play against a weak Browns offensive line.
7. The San Diego Chargers were off this week. They needed the rest. They are the only team in the NFL to not win a game this season. They stand 0-5 and face the Browns on the road in Cleveland before a Monday Night home game against the Miami Dolphins.
8. The Spanos family who owns the Chargers gave serious thought to firing Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer last week. How close they came is not known for sure, but sources close to the Spanos family indicated that it could go either way. But if Schottenheimer does not get to at least 8 wins this season, then he'll be back at ESPN. The Spanos family is not happy that the Chargers, dating back to last season, have lost their last nine games.
9. It appears that problem child David Boston has made a turnaround in his attitude in San Diego. Two weeks ago in a loss at Jacksonville, Boston scored two touchdowns. However, his stay might be short lived as the team is expected to release him next June despite the large salary cap hit.
10. If the Chargers are going to make anything of their season, quarterback Drew Brees must step up his play. He's been inconsistent in every game and he needs to take the pressure off LaDainian Tomlinson who can't carry the offensive load by himself. Brees needs to take the next step in his evolution as a starting quarterback. With no chance of making the playoffs this year, Brees can develop some confidence and gain some much needed experience for the 2004 season.