Vermeil Is Taking Nothing for Granted

After a fourth-straight to-the-wire finish ran his Chiefs record to a club-record 7-0 after Monday night's victory in Oakland, Dick Vermeil was asked if Kansas City needed some blowout victories sometime soon to remove much of the skepticism surrounding this undefeated team.

"Yeah, but we can't find any volunteers," he replied.

Don't look for the Buffalo Bills to provide a confidence booster in the Sunday night ESPN game at Arrowhead.

A team that's plays its best against good teams (beating New England, Jacksonville and Washington just last week) while playing down against shaky ones (losing 30-3 to the Jets and nipping the Bengals in OT), the Bills figure to give Kansas City the same kind of nail-biter Chiefs fans endured in recent victories over Baltimore (17-10), Denver (24-23), Green Bay (in OT) and Oakland (17-10).

That Kansas City found different ways to win each of those games in the fourth quarter says a lot about this team.

Against Baltimore and Denver, the Chiefs got Dante Hall kick returns for the game-winning touchdowns. At Green Bay, it took a 400-yard passing game from Trent Green and an interception return by Jerome Woods to rally from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to an overtime win.

On Monday in Oakland, it took a gift from the Raiders (Phillip Buchanon's muffed punt deep in his own end) and a mental error by an NFL great (when Tim Brown came out of the end zone to catch the game's final pass short of the goal line) for the Chiefs to escape with a 17-10 win and an unblemished record.

And so people keeping asking: Are the Chiefs really good, or just really lucky?

The answer, of course, is C) both of the above.

This is a team that is dominant only in one phase of the game -- Hall and the special teams -- but is not especially special in either of the other two. On defense, in fact, Kansas City isn't even mediocre with its No. 27 ranking in total defense, though that's offset by a more pleasing No. 12 ranking in points yielded (18 per game).

And yet Kansas City keeps finding ways to win, which means at some point you have to believe that this is a pretty good team that, yes, also has a lucky streak going.

"I'm pleased with where we are, but I'm not blinded by it," Vermeil said. "We know our strengths and we know our weaknesses. We have to keep exploiting our strengths and either improve or disguise the areas where we aren't as strong."

"I don't think we can rely on the offense dominating like my '99 (Rams)," he added. "I don't think we can rely on our defense dominating like the Ravens and the Bears of old or like Tampa Bay did last year. I think if we're going to be successful we're going to have to be more like the (2001) New England Patriots -- a complete team that can take advantage of the different things different people do in all three phases of the game.

"We'd like to think we can keep winning by utilizing all three phases of the game even when we're not too sure what person or what phase is going to make the play that makes the difference. (It will take) either an overpowering physical strength in one area, an outstanding team attitude or some individual gifted player that helps circumvent the areas our staff knows aren't equivalent to some of the past championship teams.

"But we can't be what the former champions have been. The only thing we can be is what we are."

SERIES HISTORY:This is the 35th regular-season meeting between the Chiefs and Bills. Buffalo leads the series 18-15-1 in the regular season, and 2-1 in the playoffs, but lost in Arrowhead last season when Eric Warfield's interception of a Drew Bledsoe throw to the end zone preserved a 17-16 Chiefs victory. Top Stories