Did Anyone Notice the Chiefs Were 11-2?

The hangover of the Broncos loss is over and so are the questions about the run defense. No more negatives. I've decided to take the road less traveled. The Chiefs are 11-2, about to win their first AFC West Championship since 1997 and they've qualified for the post season tournament. Not bad. Not bad at all.

After ripping the defense, the coaching staff, listening to talk radio, reading the newspaper, internet stories, it dawned on me. The Chiefs are still one of the best teams in the NFL. They are in the playoffs and after analyzing every other AFC contender; I've come to the conclusion that the Chiefs are still the team to beat.

I came to this after reviewing the tapes of their two losses, the disheartening loss to the Bengals 24-19 and last Sunday's loss to the Broncos 45-27. I watched each play. It was hard, difficult and not much fun. But I learned something.

In both games, the Chiefs beat themselves. They simply made stupid mistakes, dumb penalties or failed to take advantage of what their opponents were giving them. Yes they allowed some big plays. But they failed to execute their game plans, broke down on offense, defense and special teams and they know better.

After breaking down the defense, each of Clinton Portis's three touchdowns in the second half could have easily been stopped for no gains. Players like R-Kal Truluck, Kawika Mitchell and Montique Sharpe were simply out of position or lacked the experience to adjust to the play. That's not schemes, talent or the coaches fault. Instead it was three inexperience players who were taught a valuable lesson. A lesson that in the post season they can learn from.

For the veterans, they have less excuses but they simply didn't play their best game on defense. Eric Hicks, Vonnie Holliday, Scott Fujita, Shawn Barber, Ryan Sims and the two safeties, Jerome Woods and Greg Wesley didn't get the job done. They had an off day. It happens in the NFL. If the Chiefs defense in the second half had continued to shut down Portis like they did in the first half, then the Chiefs would have won the game.

But they didn't. After a lengthy meeting with the defensive coaching staff on Monday, the players on defense apparently cleared the air about a few things. This whipping by the Broncos might actually be the best thing that has happened to the defense all year.

My grandfather said that no man goes through life without making a few mistakes along the way. He told me that it does not matter how many you make in life as long as you learn from each one. On Sunday, the Chiefs learned that they can't sit back anymore and wait for the plays to come to them. Instead they need to start making the plays.

I can't and won't fault Greg Robinson any longer. Like it or not he's one two Super Bowl rings. He had talent on defense with those Broncos teams that won back to back titles in the 90's but this team has some talent as well. They just didn't show up on Sunday.

In the NFL, that happens. It happens to every team. Two weeks earlier the Broncos lost to the Chicago Bears at home because they didn't show up to play. So before everyone rides the Broncos bandwagon, teams have bad games.

This was the Chiefs bad game of the season. The Bengals game was another bad game but the offense had chances to win that game and failed. Cincinnati made more plays and they won the game.

It's true the loss could cost the Chiefs home field advantage throughout the playoffs. But with three weeks left in the season, there is one certainty. It's not likely the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts nor are the Kansas City Chiefs going to all finish 3-0 the rest of the season.

The Colts have blown three games this year, the Patriots twice. Yes New England has won nine straight games. But can they win twelve to close out the 2003 season. It's only happened once in the last 20 years a team has won twelve games in a row.

So before everyone jumps off the Chiefs playoff bandwagon, remember that they have the best offensive line, the best running back, tight end, special teams player and coaches who have Super Bowl rings. Kansas City Chiefs fans have to trust this coaching staff and that these players, who have given 110% since the dog days of August, will succeed down the stretch.

Thinking the other way will only bring back memories of past failures. The Chiefs are under new management and any comparisons to the past are irrelevant. It's time to move on and put our trust and faith into the players who didn't show up last Sunday nor four weeks ago against the Bengals. They have pride as athletes and they'll find that spark that raises their level of play the next six or seven games.

A strong finish to the 2003 season and two or three solid performances in the playoffs still will get the Chiefs to Houston on February 1st.

Every team in the AFC playoffs this year is beatable and has at least a weakness or two. If the Chiefs have one or two playoff games at home, the outcome won't be an issue unless they don't bring their ‘A' game to the field. They know the only way they can lose in December or January is if they allow it. They leaned that last Sunday in Denver.

It's not probable that Kansas City fans will ever see another performance like they did against the Broncos again this season. The entire team was at fault. As they get back to the practice field today, expect the Chiefs players to be fired up and the coaching staff eager to show last week was a fluke.

It's not a good idea to deviate from the one game at a time theory but the Chiefs must beat the Detroit Lions this week, the Minnesota Vikings after that and then the Chicago Bears to close out the 2003 campaign. When that happens, the Chiefs will be ready to take on all challengers in the playoffs at home or on the road.

They are still the team to beat in the AFC. Only one team can beat the Chiefs and that's the one in Kansas City. All the other AFC teams are pretenders. .

Exams are over, lessons are learned; it's time for the Chiefs to get back to winning football games once again.

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