Their quarterback had more rushing yards than their four-time Pro Bowl running back (25-18 on nine fewer carries), their leading receiver was shut out and their Pro Bowl tight end was limited to just two catches for a second straight week. The good news for Tony Gonzalez is that his 13 yards this week more than doubled his five-yard output from his previous game.
You look at the numbers from Kansas City's post bye-week game with Washington and ask aloud: How in the world did the Chiefs escape with a 28-21 win that snapped a two-game pre-bye losing streak?
We'll let coach Dick Vermeil attempt to answer.
"If we don't take the ball away, we don't win the game, that's all there is to it," Vermeil said. "We're not where we ought to be on offense, though sooner or later that will come. If it doesn't, we won't win many games like this one.
"But the defense is definitely getting better."
In one aspect, anyway, that is certainly true.
The 3-2 Chiefs, who had forced only five turnovers in their first four games, forced three of them against Washington. Credit second-year defensive end Jared Allen with forcing two and having a hand in a third, the one safety Sammy Knight returned 80 yards for Kansas City's first defensive touchdown on the year at a time when the Chiefs needed it most.
Allen, in the first three-sack day of his career, made his first takeaway a huge one when he stripped the ball away from Mark Brunell at the Chiefs 7-yard line on Washington's first drive of the day. He later teamed with Carlos Hall to force reserve back Rock Cartwright -- playing because Clinton Portis was taking a beating -- to fumble at the KC 21 in a 14-all game.
"Scoop and score, you always think that as a defensive back," Knight said of the momentum-turning touchdown. "Jared Allen made plays like that all over the field today, and I was just fortunate to pick it up. But that's what happens when you've got guys flying all around."
But Kansas City's day-long bending defense broke three times against Brunell, whose last of three touchdowns immediately followed Knight's go-ahead TD return and tied the game at 21-all with 15 1/2 minutes remaining.
It was time for the Chiefs offense to step up. And Priest Holmes came to the fore.
Holmes, who had only 14 rushing yards to that point early in the fourth quarter -- 11 fewer than suddenly scrambling QB Trent Green -- caught a short screen pass, got two clear-out blocks and then set off on a cross-field, cross-country 60-yard scoring run that saw him walk the sideline tightrope for the final seven yards of the game-winning TD play with 13:21 remaining.
Washington would get three more possessions in the final 13 minutes.
But Allen's back-to-back sacks produced a three-and-out on the first, and Knight's fourth-down deflection of a Brunell end-zone throw for Santana Moss from the Chiefs' 33 ended the final threat with eight seconds remaining.
"You can lose days off your life with games like this one," Vermeil told his tired and all-but-beaten team afterward as it closed out a two-game home stand with a 1-1 record and prepared to play four of its next five games on the road, beginning this week in Miami.
NOTES & QUOTES:
To celebrate the most impressive game of his two-year pro career, Jared Allen donned a custom-made white suit with a pink shirt that gave him the John Travolta, circa 1976 look he wanted.
"I've been watching 'Boogie Nights' and 'Saturday Night Fever,'" Allen explained. "I want to look like those guys. They're icons!"
Teammate Sammy Knight, who hadn't seen such a look in even his two seasons in Miami and six in New Orleans, jokingly threatened to call the fashion police.
"Man, you'd get booed out of South Beach wearing that suit," Knight said as he watched Allen display his Don Johnson-wannabe look.
But after his three sacks and a hand in three forced fumbles, Allen could have dressed like Elton John or RuPaul and none of his Chiefs teammates would have objected.
"It's been a long time, since the days of D.T. (the late Derrick Thomas), since we've seen a performance like that around here," said veteran defensive end Eric Hicks.
"That's a definite AFC Player of the week performance, in my opinion," Hicks added. "If he doesn't get it, he got robbed. He shut them down when we needed to, so what else can you say about him? He's a player on the rise and I guess you could say he arrived today."
He certainly dressed the part, anyway.
Allen admitted he got a little pass-rushing edge from picking up some pre-snap indicators that he used to his advantage.
"A half-step can make the difference in getting a sack in the NFL, and I was able to get that half a step," he said.
Washington's offensive linemen weren't so sure. "We'll look at the film and see if he had any extra jumps (off-side) or not," said tackle Jon Jansen, who gave up one of Allen's sacks.
Kansas City gave up a season-high 398 yards against Washington, two more than it did in its loss before the bye week to Philadelphia. Offensively, the Chiefs' 274-yard total was its lowest output since October of 2003.
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES:
QB Trent Green scrambled three times for 25 yards and picked up 13 and 11 yards on two scrambles; both necessary for first downs. Green said he hadn't scrambled that much or that far since his one 1998 season in Washington. "I still know some of the guys on the Washington side," he said. "They were even joking with me about it. I was able to keep some drives going, but if I had my way, I wouldn't do that."
WR Eddie Kennison, who was coming off back-to-back 100-yard games in losses to Denver and Philadelphia, had his string of 55 games with a catch snapped when he was shut out against Washington.
RB Priest Holmes, though held to an awful 18 yards on 14 carries, still totaled 100 receiving yards when he broke a screen for a 60-yard game-winning TD early in the fourth quarter.
TE Tony Gonzalez, limited to only two receptions (for a mere 13 yards), had figured prominently in the Washington game plan. The Chiefs tried to throw to him often in the early going, and Gonzalez picked up a holding and an interference penalty for 25 yards in KC's march for a first-possession field goal.
WR Eric Warfield did not suit up for his first game Sunday following his return from an NFL suspension. The Chiefs say Warfield is not yet game-ready, but replacement right corner Dexter McCleon was burned often, usually by Washington's Santana Moss, who caught 10 passes for 173 yards.
WR Samie Parker, who caught two passes for 25 yards against Washington, sustained a knee injury that bears watching in the days leading up to this week's game in Miami.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL:
REPORT CARD VS. WASHINGTON
PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Trent Green's final numbers (15-for-25, 1 TD, 181 yards) became respectable only when Priest Holmes took a pitch-and-run short screen pass 60 yards for the game-winning touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Green's accuracy was off again, and even with the return of left tackle Willie Roaf, he often had to throw quickly. On one play, Green scrambled around and avoided sacks like his name was Michael Vick in order to just throw the ball away.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus -- Trent Green's 25 yards on scrambles helped the Chiefs average as much as 3.0 yards a pop on a 32-for-96-yard running day. Holmes had some nice runs early (6-for-24 on KC's first drive for a field goal), but then went 7-for-4 the rest of the way. Larry Johnson had a strong 3-for-23 effort on his first series, and then ran for 8 on his only carry of his second series before finishing 13-for-53.
PASSING DEFENSE: D -- Mark Brunell shredded KC's 30th-ranked pass defense -- 25-for-41, 331 yards and three TD's -- good for a 110.9 QB rating. Santana Moss had a 10 catch, 173-yard career day. Only Jared Allen's three sacks and two forced fumbles off sacks prevented a failing grade here.
RUSHING DEFENSE: B -- Clinton Portis started strong (6-for-26) on Washington's first possession, and had 53 yards at halftime. But by the third quarter, he was slowed by a shin injury and had to be taken from the game. That's why little-used back Rock Cartwright was in the lineup when he fumbled at the Chiefs 21, the play where Sammy Knight returned the loose ball for an 80-yard TD.
SPECIAL TEAMS C-minus -- Nothing special anywhere. Lawrence Tynes hit field goals of 20 and 38 yards, which were important in a close game, but Dustin Colquitt's five punts averaged only 33.6 yards. That turned out to be his net, too, as Washington couldn't return any, with two being downed inside the 20 without a touchback. Dante Hall got nothing in the return game.
Numbers Don't Always Determine Outcome
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