It was the most complete game of the season and it came at the right time as Kansas City earned some much needed momentum heading into the playoffs.
Outside of a meaningless field goal late in the third quarter the Chiefs defense stopped the run, knocked out the starting quarterback and forced turnovers. They even sacked the Bears quarterbacks four times. Not bad for a defense that was lit up by the Minnesota Vikings a weeks ago.
Boy how things can change in a week. The Vikings gave up two touchdowns in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter and the Chiefs defense showed enough improvement to make a serious run at the Super Bowl. Today the men stood up and put the rest of the five AFC playoff participants on notice that they are going to be a formidable opponent.
The Chiefs offense struggled early but the defense stood out stopping the Bears running game. Anthony Thomas only managed 61 yards on 16 carries with 20 of those yards on one run. Starting quarterback Rex Grossman did little to move the offense as he was forced to leave the game after Chiefs linebacker Gary Stills tackled him while attempting a pass. Grossman never returned and Kordell Stewart and Chris Chandler were ineffective in relief.
But the story of the defense was the pressure they put on the quarterback and their ability to push the offensive line and get penetration in the backfield. R-Kal Truluck had two sacks and Gary Stills added another as defensive coordinator Greg Robinson put both men on the outside and let them use their speed to rush the quarterback. It worked to perfection. But without the Chiefs ability to stop the run, it would not have been as effective.
The offensive story belonged to Priest Holmes. His two touchdowns catapulted Holmes into the NFL record books. Holmes scored his 26th & 27th touchdowns of the season. His first btoke the single season scoring mark for rushing touchdowns previously held by Emmitt Smith at 25. Then later in the third quarter, Holmes dived into the end zone scoring his 27th touchdown of the season breaking the NFL mark of 26 touchdowns in a single season by one player both rushing and receiving held by Marshall Faulk.
Holmes only had 56 yards in total offense as the Bears defense did a great job of stifling the Chiefs running game. But Holmes scored when it mattered and the Chiefs offense did just enough to be effective, sustain drives and give the defense a lead to protect.
Trent Green did not have a stellar day but still managed to connect on 19 of 27 passes and one touchdown. He hit Eddie Kennison who continues to make plays down the stretch on a 6-yard pass giving the Chiefs a 14-0 halftime lead. Green did throw one interception a poorly thrown ball to Dante Hall at the goal line. Green fluttered the ball instead of hitting Hall in stride and the Bears stooped the Chiefs from going into the locker room at half up 21 points.
In the second quarter, Marc Boerigter was unable to corral two passes on the same drive in the end zone that would have padded Green's stats even more. But it was good to see Green try and get the ball to Boerigter. He could be an important piece of the Chiefs offense in the playoffs.
But the defense was the show. Two players on the defense really stood out; back-up cornerback William Bartee and safety Shaunard Harts. Bartee prevented the Bears from going out of bounds in the final seconds of the first half near the Chiefs goal line. But he was one of the Chiefs sure handed tacklers in the game and not many receivers who caught balls on Bartee made many yards after the catch.
Harts was very effective in blitzing situations. He knocked down two passes off the line of scrimmage and was all over the field in pass coverage.
This was a total win and even first round draft pick Larry Johnson scored his first NFL touchdown on a nifty 5-yard run where he had to reverse his field and run all the way across to the end zone. It's been a turbulent season for Johnson but his run and agile blocking picking up a blitz showed the Chiefs that he could indeed contribute next year.
Now Kansas awaits the winner of the Tennessee Titans/Baltimore Ravens winner. There is an outside chance the Chiefs could play the Indianapolis Colts in the first round. One thing is certain the team the Chiefs don't want to play is the Denver Broncos. As the #2 seed there is no scenario that would allow that to happen unless Denver wins two games. If that would somehow manifest itself into reality, the Chiefs would be playing the AFC Championship game at home.