History Aside Monday Night is Special for Vermeil

He may be the first coach in NFL history to take three different teams to 6-0 starts, but not even Dick Vermeil has ever had a 7-0 team.

If his current team properly handles these newfound heights, Vermeil could get his first 7-0 team this week as his Kansas City Chiefs venture into prime time for the first time since 2000. The Chiefs put their unbeaten mark on the line in a Monday night game at the freak show otherwise known as Oakland's Network Associates Coliseum.

It's been 22 years, when he went 2-1 on MNF games with Philadelphia in the 1981 season, since Vermeil last coached in a Monday night game. His 1999 St. Louis Rams, the eventual Super Bowl champs that season, never got a sniff at Monday night -- understandable considering the 4-12 campaign of the previous year.

Vermeil consequently has taken to calling coaching friends to brush up on preparing for a Monday night game. For even though he's facing an injury-ridden, penalty-plagued Raiders team, he remembers enough about recent MNF history to know what a dangerous animal the wounded Raiders can be.

"I remember Denver riding high with a real good team last year and the Raiders having lost four straight," he recalled. "The Raiders went in there on Monday night and played super, lights-out. They dominated the game (winning 34-10), turned their whole season around and ended up winning the AFC championship. They're capable of doing the same thing again. "

Especially if the Chiefs start believing that the defense and special teams touchdowns that helped them win their last three games against Baltimore, Denver and Green Bay in come-from-behind fashion are something they can count on every week.

The Chiefs, remember, got a 97-yard Dante Hall kickoff return to break a fourth-quarter tie in Baltimore; a 93-yard Hall punt return for the game-winning points in the fourth quarter against Denver; and a 71-yard Jerome Woods interception return to jump start a comeback from a 17-point fourth-quarter at Green Bay last week.

The Chiefs know they could just as easily be 4-2 (or 3-3) as 6-0. The Raiders, then, are a perfect opponent -- a rivalry game; a grudge match; a team that's won six of the last seven meetings, including a complete 24-0 kicking of KC in the '02 finale in Oakland -- for an unbeaten team trying to adjust to its new-found acclaim, the latest of which suggests that Kansas City will be 12-0 entering its Dec. 7 rematch at Denver.

"I'm not even going to comment on that," Vermeil said in dismissing the prospect. "The only thing I'm interested in being is 7-0.

"You start talking about winning 12 in a row, that starts looking like a mountain to climb. We talk in terms of winning only one football game. That's all we have control of.

"We cannot fall into that trap of prancing around and getting involved in the hype," Vermeil said. "Hey, it's nice to be congratulated. It's nice to be appreciated. But in the National Football League, what's done is done and you better get on with it.

"I've had friends call me and say, 'Boy, it looks like you can do this and this and that.' Hey, the only thing we can do is play Monday night, and we better play well. I think our team will maintain that focus."

One player ready for Monday is Chiefs second year defensive tackle Ryan Sims. If Sims is to believed, the Chiefs believe they've got something to prove to a national audience on Monday night.

"Week in and week out we've been proving a lot of people wrong," Sims said. "People say it isn't going to last, but right now we've got a formula that's winning, and we're going to stay with it."

SERIES HISTORY: This is the 86th regular-season meeting between the Chiefs and Raiders. Oakland leads the series 42-41-2 after winning six of the last seven meetings. KC has dropped three straight at Oakland.


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