Inside Skinny: Holmes Will Sit Again on Sunday

The Chiefs won't have Priest Holmes available for a fourth straight game this week in Oakland, and there also is concern about the health of quarterback Trent Green.

Green, who has started 59 consecutive games since joining the Chiefs in 2001, took some shots to the back and ribs in the final minutes of Kansas City's 34-31 loss Sunday to San Diego. He continued to play in the final series, however, and while he is listed as questionable, coach Dick Vermeil believes he'll be available in Oakland.

"He got hit a number of times, took a helmet in the ribs like a lot of quarterbacks do," Vermeil said. "But knowing him, he'll get better quickly.

We're so spoiled by his consecutive starts that we just take it for granted that he'll be ready. That's his M.O."

The prognosis is not so good for Holmes, who injured his right knee in the third quarter of the Tampa Bay loss on Nov. 7.

"He's making progress, but I think he's at least two weeks away," Vermeil said, adding that Holmes is scheduled to begin a light running program Tuesday. "He will play again when he's healthy. He wants to play."

Kansas City also could play a second straight game without its starting safeties. Jerome Woods (knee) is considered questionable while Greg Wesley is doubtful after injuring his hamstring in Sunday's pre-game warm-up.

The Chiefs also are watching a painful spur in the kicking foot of punter Steve Cheek who continues to struggle.

Here's when you know your season is officially in the tank, which is where it resides today for the 3-8 Kansas City Chiefs after a 34-31 home loss to San Diego.

It happened on the opening kickoff of the third quarter, with the Chiefs clinging to a 17-14 halftime lead. Dante Hall, looking for his first kick return touchdown of the season after getting an electrifying five in 17 games last year, finally broke free with nothing but 15 yards of thin Arrowhead turf between him and his first end zone visit of the year.

As he sensed San Diego's Kassim Osgood closing from behind, Hall shifted the ball from his right hand to his left -- and fumbled without being hit. San Diego recovered at the 5, and Kansas City's ongoing season of frustration mounted.

"It's inexcusable to lose that ball," an angry Hall said. "The freakin' ball just came out. That shouldn't have happened whether the guy was coming or I got tired or I got hit. I can't remember that it happened to me before. This year it seems like whatever can go wrong does go wrong. It's tough, man. It's really tough."

Things kept going wrong even after Hall partially redeemed himself with a 96-yard kickoff return that gave Kansas City its second lead of the fourth quarter, 31-24 with 10 minutes remaining.

Facing a second-and-22 play after a penalty wiped out a 51-yard completion just one snap and two penalties before, Charger quarterback Drew Brees made the biggest play of his career-best 378-yard passing day. He hit Osgood 30 yards downfield, and when backup safety Willie Pile missed the interception and the tackle, Osgood was free to complete a 65-yard play to the KC 16.

Three plays later Antonio Gates grabbed his second TD catch of the day, his 11th of the year, and the Chargers were tied 31-all with 6:22 to play.

That should have been plenty of time for the NFL's top-ranked offense to get three points but not this year.

Trent Green, moving from his own 24, threw his fourth final-period interception in the past four games -- all of them Chiefs losses. The pick was by Donnie Edwards, the former KC linebacker who played on the last Chiefs defense that was worth a damn, set up the Chargers for the game-winning field goal with 2:24 remaining.

That was just enough time for the Chiefs to run a four-and-out with Green throwing incomplete on the final three plays.

The Chiefs have had chances for either game-tying field goals or game-winning touchdown in the final minutes of each of their four straight losses. In that stretch Green has thrown four final-period interceptions, with one from the New Orleans 17 with 1:16 remaining in a seven-point game. He was sacked twice on the final offensive series near midfield with 90 seconds of a three-point loss at Tampa Bay.

It should be noted that Priest Holmes, sidelined by a knee injury, was absent in the fourth quarter of each of those losses.

"The pressure is on and in the last couple of week we haven't scored as many points as we're capable of," Green said of playing without Holmes. "We continue to move the ball well, but we just haven't been able to finish when we had th chance."

Asked point-blank to explain why one of the league's most potent offenses fails so consistently in the fourth quarter, Dick Vermeil could manage only, "Not coached well enough."

That may say it all and that might leave the door open for Vermeil to retire after this season.


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