Though the Chiefs gallantly fought back in the fourth quarter only to fall short, the missed opportunities in the first half, poor play calling, the return of the 32 defense and terrible special teams cost Kansas City its first loss of the season as the Bengals proved they are legit with a 24-19 victory.
Four straight possessions in the first half and four straight three and outs proved that the little engine was better than the steam roller. Though the Chiefs gallantly fought back late in the game, the missed opportunities in the first half cost them the ball game and they were handed their first loss of the season 24-19.
Jon Kitna is now officially the Chiefs killer. The former Seattle Seahawk threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns as he looked like the Kitna of old. He was magnificent in leading a very consistent passing attack and took advantage of sloppy defensive tackling. The Chiefs defense missed tackles, certain sacks and looked more than out of sync despite the fact the Bengals owned time of possession. When the defense had to step up, they didn't get it done this week.
The Bengals defense was blitzing, tackling and made every play when they needed them most. In fact, the Bengals exposed the Chiefs offense for being uncreative, unimaginative and down right unexciting. Cincinnati might as well have been in the huddle because they knew the plays.
One thing for certain is the fact the Chiefs were brutally manhandled and exposed on offense. It seemed unlikely that Dick Vermeil could have been that out coached by Marvin Lewis. Vermeil and his coaching staff never made any adjustments on offense and defense. They never tried to change things up and Lewis and his young defense made every stop. It was nothing fancy as they showed the blitz often with their corners but at times the Chiefs didn't see them coming.
Even Dante Hall was outplayed by the Bengals Peter Warrick. His 68-yard punt return for a touchdown broke the back of the Chiefs. Hall had two nice returns in the first two possessions but he had trouble fielding the ball later in the game and the Bengals special teams were brilliant in closing down the lanes on Hall.
But Peter Warrick made the plays and Hall was left wondering what happened. Warrick was clearly the difference in the game. After his touchdown return, he came right back after the Chiefs had pulled within five points. With the Chiefs concerned about the running game, Kitna wound up his accurate arm and hit Warrick for a sizzling 77-yard strike.
He badly burned Chiefs cornerback Eric Warfield who was several steps off the play and could not catch up with Warrick to stop him from catching the ball. But he still could have tackled him and prevented him from advancing past the 30-yard line but he made a poor attempt at stopping Warrick and he sailed untouched into the end zone. The Chiefs corner had their worst game of the season. The aggressiveness that had led to back to back wins over the Bills and Browns was nowhere to be seen on Sunday.
But this game was lost because the offense was inept in the first half. The Chiefs had the ball at or near their own 40-yard line on the first four possessions of the game. Al Saunders seemed to be stuck in the mud with his play calling and Trent Green was unable to get his feet set.
It appeared to me that the Chiefs tried too hard to move the ball around. They should have hit the Bengals defense with smash mouth football and used play action. But instead they tried short passes and never attempted to throw the ball downfield.
In fact they only attempted one long pass and it was nearly intercepted. The Bengals defense was impressive for the first three and a half quarters as the Chiefs finally mounted two fourth quarter touchdowns.
But the Chiefs defense could not stop the rushing of Rudi Johnson who torched Kansas City for 165 yards on 22 carries. But it was his 54-yard run late in the fourth quarter sealed the victory and the Chiefs fall to 9-1 and with the Tennessee Titans win over 10-3 over the Jacksonville Jaguars; move to one game back of the Chiefs for home field advantage.
Dick Vermeil has to get his team refocused and back on track. There is now way Marvin Lewis should have exploited the Chiefs offense in the first three quarters. Green and company failed to take advantage of the blitz situations and the over pursuing. But give the Bengals cornerbacks credit; they all played at an all-pro level in shutting the Chiefs passing attack. That was the best man to man coverage the Chiefs have faced all year.
What was also missing was Priest Holmes. He looked like he was confused and never found a rhythm. The Chiefs have to establish themselves as either a running or passing team. The offensive plays that Holmes was running were at the strength of the Bengals defense and Holmes speed and agility was never used to the Chiefs advantage.
Your superstar back needs to get first downs on short yardage situations and Holmes was unable to do so late in the third quarter. That cost the team some points as Morten Andersen missed a 43-yard field goal.
The kicking game also killed the Chiefs today. Andersen did connect on two other field goals but the punting and kick-offs of Jason Baker were dismal. I know Vermeil is dead set against bringing in other players during the season but Baker should be able to punt the ball better in the NFL. He only averaged 33 yards per punt and that won't cut it for a championship team when field position is so important.
But he was not the only goat of the game. The special teams missed tackles and the gunners lacked the ability and the desire to get to Warrick. These are all things that can be corrected but what was unimpressive about the play of the special teams is they had little fire. Even Hall had trouble getting in a groove. The footing at Paul Allen field was terrible and Hall never got on track.
Maybe the ghost of Allen did the Chiefs in today. Back in n1969 his Bengals upset the Chiefs Super Bowl team by the same score 24-19 in the biggest game in their franchise history back in the 60's. It was mighty nice of the Chiefs to let the Bengals do it again in 2003.
The bright spot about that loss back in 1969 was it sparked a six game winning streak and vaulted the Chiefs into the playoffs and eventually to their first Super Bowl title.
In the end it's Raiders week. The Chiefs go back to the drawing board and we'll see if this loss costs them home field advantage after the sixteenth game. The Titans did not look good today but they won their game.
One thing is for sure the Chiefs 32 defense returned for one afternoon and if that teams shows up against Tennessee on the road or at home in January, they might be on the outside looking in at making the Super Bowl.