Chiefs Top AFC West Opening Week

On Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs did several things that few thought possible. They won a game with their best offensive linemen on the bench. They crushed the Jets defensively with two of their big time starters injured and out of the game. They shut down last year's leading rusher, and forced a top quarterback to completely lose his composure. And the back-up running back played better than the starter.

In defeating the New York Jets 27-7 on Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs took a quantum leap forward. They established to the rest of the NFL that they can play defense against a solid offense. New York quarterback Chad Pennington fumbled the ball six times; two of which were recovered by the Chiefs. In fact, Pennington was very uneasy in the pocket all afternoon, and for good reason—the new and imprived linebacking corps terrorized the normally prolific Jets offense.

What's even brighter about the defensive effort is that they did it for most of the game minus two of their top defensive players. Normally I would not mention (DE) Ryan Sims in this category, but his play early on was a key factor in the Jets struggling on offense. He left the game with a strained foot in the first half, but not before making an impact. (CB) Patrick Surtain did the same thing, intercepting a Pennington pass and returning it 52 yards before leaving the game with a mild concussion.

Despite those key losses, the rest of the defensive mates filled the gap. They also made plays and came within seconds of recording a shutout. Rookie (L-OLB) Derrick Johnson tied for the team lead with nine tackles, eight of them solo. The Texas product also registered his first career sack. But the biggest impact might have been safety Sammy Knight. He also had nine tackles and a sack, but he was all over the field.

The biggest knock on the Chiefs defense a year ago was they could not tackle. Too often running backs, tight ends or receivers would break free for long gains after the play was initially stopped for little or no gain. On Sunday against the Jets, that just didn't happen.

Heralded running back Curtis Martin was held in check for the entire game. The future hall-of-famer gained just 57 yards on 20 carries. He was ineffective and was unable to find any open running lanes.

The defense made some mistakes and they could have done some things better, but for their first appearance of the season the effort shows a lot of potential. That could be a scary thing for the rest of the AFC West who all lost their games in week one.

On offense it was a different story. The first two drives of the game were picture perfect, thanks to the ‘Church Backfield' that running back Larry Johnson now refers to in mentioning he and Priest Holmes.

"I call us the Church Backfield. Priest prays over them and I bury them," Johnson said after the game.

Johnson started the game out with a bang after Priest Holmes set the table with a nifty 35-yard run in the games first drive. Johnson came in on his first carry of the season and rambled untouched 35 yards for the team's first touchdown of the game.

Then, after the defense made a stand and forced the Jets to punt, Holmes scored the second touchdown when he refused to go down near the goal line from three yards out.

This combination is going to cause offensive coordinators around the NFL nightmares. The Raiders, next week's opponent, have to be scared to death of the Chiefs right now.

But all was not spectacular for the Chiefs offense. When left tackle Willie Roaf went down with a hamstring injury, the offense sputtered and could not effectively pass the ball or run it with any kind of authority. It wasn't until the fourth quarter when the Chiefs reinserted Larry Johnson in the game did they get back into the end zone.

(QB) Trent Green threw a puzzling interception in the end zone late in the second quarter, which may be a cause for concern. Last season Green was not as efficient in the Red Zone and let's hope that Sunday was a fluke. Green has to learn to throw the ball away in the Red Zone. Granted the interception that was picked off by Ty Law was insignificant in this game, but it could have been a back-breaker in a close game. One thing is certain, you don't want your starting quarterback to get into a habit of giving the ball to the opponent in the Red Zone.

Still, the Chiefs did what they had to do. They won the football game and they established that this team has some talent and depth. (RT) Jordan Black moved to left tackle and (G) Chris Bober came in and played right tackle when Roaf went down. Now they struggled some but Black and Bober did an admirable job and in the fourth quarter each played better.

But there is no reason to be critical after such an important victory. The Chiefs drove into first place in the AFC West after the rest of their division mates lost on opening weekend. Next week, the Chargers will travel to Denver and the Chiefs will travel to Oakland, so one team is guaranteed to be 0-2 by next Monday.

Kansas City can take another bound forward with a win at Oakland next Sunday. A victory would put the Raiders three games behind the Chiefs based on tie breakers and it would put them two games up on either the Chargers or Broncos. Kansas City will travel to Denver in Week three and if the Chiefs can win that game, the season takes on a whole new look.

What was once considered the hardest stretch of the season might not be so tough after all. Oakland and Denver are beatable on the road. Not many thought a 3-0 start was likely. Now, based on the initial performances by the rest of the division, it is definitely looking good for KC.

Today the Chiefs can bask in a great victory. The players will get two days off to rest their bumps and bruises, and on Wednesday they'll have a bounce in their step as they start preparations for the Raiders. They should be fresh, motivated, and well-prepared next Sunday. The game isn't a given, though, and the team will have to maintain their focus.

After all it is ‘Raiders Week.' Top Stories