Chiefs Notes: KC Still Can Make the Playoffs

The Chiefs are 0-3 for the first time since the dark days of 1980. That team started the season 0-4 but rallied for an 8-8 finish.

Three teams have begun a season 0-3 and still managed to make the playoffs since the NFL went to its six-team playoff format. They are the 1992 Chargers (who finished 11-5), the '95 Lions (10-6) and the '98 Bills (10-6).

Dick Vermeil, who second-guessed himself for calling for two field goals (making only one) on a couple of fourth-and-short situations in the Carolina loss last week, was second-guessing himself again Sunday after going for it on fourth-and-2 from the 6 late in the first half of a 7-3 game. The gambit failed when Priest Holmes was stopped a yard short.

"I'd made up my mind (to go for it) before the game ever started," Vermeil explained. "Last week when I didn't do it, I felt I sort of drained some of the motivation and fire from our squad."

Losing a fourth-down gamble with 1:52 left before halftime is one thing. But a Vermeil decision seconds later was inexcusable.

After Houston's Jonathan Wells broke a second-and-10 run for 13 yards and a first down at the Texans 18, Vermeil called his final timeout -- a move even he said was a bad call.

"I shouldn't have taken the timeout," he admitted. "I'd made up my mind before the play that if they ran the ball, I was taking a timeout. I didn't know they were going to run for a first down."

Houston ended up driving for Brown's first 49-yard field goal with 10 seconds left to cut the halftime deficit to 7-6.

CB Eric Warfield's leaping end zone interception that stopped Houston's first-series drive to the KC 10 was his third of the season -- tops in NFL. It was a much-needed bright spot for Warfield, who earlier in the week was arrested for drunken driving a third time in three years. Warfield now faces a state felony charge and a likely NFL suspension.

RB Priest Holmes, who surprised everyone but his teammates in coming back from an ankle injury to rush for 134 yards and the top spot on the Chiefs career rushing chart, did not catch a pass for the first time in 3-plus seasons in Kansas City.

QB Trent Green hit nine straight passes before his second-and-goal throw from the 2 was intercepted by Marcus Coleman and returned 102 yards for a game-changing TD.

WR Chris Horn's performance in his first NFL game may make the Chiefs rethink his position as an emergency replacement for the injured Eddie Kennison. With Kennison down for Houston, KC signed Horn off the practice squad and cut third QB Damon Huard to open a roster spot. Huard will re-sign this week, but the Chiefs may want to keep Horn after he caught a 6-yard TD pass.

P Jason Baker, released by the Chiefs on the final roster cut to 53, will remain Kansas City's punter only as long as his replacement, Steve Cheek, is down with the mysterious calf injury he sustained during a Sept. 23 practice. Cheek could be down for another couple weeks.

QUOTE OF THE GAME:
"This is crazy. I never thought it would start out like this. I feel like somebody's got me in a headlock and I can't get out. The only positive I can take from this is that it will make a great story at the end of the year." TE Tony Gonzalez, still believing the Chiefs can turn around their 0-3 season in the final 13 games.

REPORT CARD VS. TEXANS
PASSING OFFENSE: C+ - Trent Green hit a solid 21 of 30 for 224 yards and three TD's, but his one pick after nine straight completions was a horrible throw that turned the game around. On second-and-goal from the 2 in a 14-6 game, he threw for Tony Gonzalez in the end zone before the tight end got a chance to look for the ball. Marcus Coleman's resulting pick and 102-yard TD return tied the game and wiped out everything good Green had done to that point.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A- - Priest Holmes was incredible in coming back from a sprained ankle that had him wearing a walking cast just last Monday. His 32-134 rushing effort was diminished only by two failures in the red zone on fourth-and-2 from the 6 just before halftime, and a first-and-goal call from the 1 that was stuffed for a loss right before Green threw the game-changing pick six interception.

PASS DEFENSE: B- - The Chiefs were getting the job done through three quarters when David Carr, who missed his first six throws, hit only 7 of 18 passes for 121 yards and no TD's. He also was picked by Eric Warfield in the end zone to kill a first-series drive. But Carr hit 6 of 7 throws for 112 yards and one TD in the fourth-quarter comeback that saw Houston get 10 points in the final 10 minutes. Andre Johnson helped with a huge 37-yard reception in which he out-jumped a well-positioned Warfield to make a falling-down catch at the KC 8. That to set up Houston's tying TD at 21-all with 5:20 remaining.

RUSH DEFENSE: A - Domanick Davis left the game with an ankle injury after one second-half carry, but he got absolutely before that. Ranked No. 2 in AFC receptions and NFL yards from scrimmage coming in, Davis managed only 12 rushing yards on 10 tries and one catch for 15. Backup Jonathan Wells fared only slightly better with a 3.7-yard average on 10 carries, and only Carr's 5 bootlegs or scrambles (for 26) yards did any damage. The Chiefs used their four-LB package more extensively than in any other game.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B - Dante Hall nearly broke a couple of returns in his most productive game of the year. He averaged 36 yards on three kickoff returns with a long of 45 that set up a short-field third-quarter TD drive. He had a 38-yard punt return to the Houston 32 wiped out by a holding penalty. Kick coverage could have been better, but Texans returner J.J. Moses, who averaged 15.5 yards on two punt returns, almost stole Hall's job with the Chiefs two years ago. Emergency punter Jason Baker was just OK in averaging 39.8 net and a mere 32 gross with two inside-the-20 efforts, but he didn't win back the job he lost when the Chiefs replaced him with the dinged Steve Cheek.

COACHING: D - Many people were questioning Al Saunders decision to throw to Tony Gonzalez on second-and-goal from the 2 in a 14-6 game. That happens after a 102-yard interception return changes the momentum of the game, but Gonzalez has been golden for the Chiefs in the red zone. Besides, Holmes had been stopped twice, including on the first-down play from the 1, in previous red-zone plays. Vermeil's decisions just before halftime (See Notes above) qualify for an F, but Gunther Cunningham's preparation of his defense raises the overall staff grade.


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