FROM THE STABLES: Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights! No, not the movie but the game that would have been a mega blockbuster in the Warpaint Nation! The Chiefs won a game they had to win, in what turned out to be the best performance by the Chiefs offense this season.

A loss would have put the Chiefs two and a half games behind the Denver Broncos and tied with the San Diego Chargers for second place if each team would have won Sunday afternoon. That didn't happen as the Broncos and Chargers each lost on the east coast while the Chiefs were at home resting up for their big AFC West showdown next week vs. the Chargers.

Dan Le Batard and Amando Salguero of the Miami Herald offer up their opinions of what they thought of the game. What did they think about the game with Hurricane Wilma on its way to Florida? Did they give the Chiefs credit for a major butt-kicking eventhough they had to travel and play a game on the same day? Find out in this week's From the Stables.

DATELINE Miami Herald by Dan Le Batard
Sports are the great escape, the fun house at the end of a too-serious neighborhood. Games allow us, even in adulthood, especially in adulthood, a playground amid the relationship frustrations, the crying kids, the evil boss and, on Friday night, the added fear of natural disaster. Tired of weary weathermen wailing and incessant hurricanes hysteria? Let's enjoy a night of distraction at America's largest amusement park, please, and ride The Great Escape.

The weather, fortunately, was fine Friday night. Your Miami Dolphins, unfortunately, were not. The Dolphins should have put storm shutters around their huddle. Or shudders. The night? Muggy and dry. Your Dolphins? Mugged and all wet. They rarely play professional football on Friday nights. Only Kansas City did on this one. The only plus: With the game moved up two days because of Hurricane Wilma fears, at least the Dolphins can't be responsible for ruining your Sunday, too.

The tired Chiefs were forced to fly in the day of the game, a rarity in this violent sport. But they put up their tray tables, moved their seats into the upright position, then kicked the ever-living crud out of Miami's football team with an assassin's cold-blooded precision. Then they flew back home, leaving us with a loss, last place and a storm on its way. Charming, huh? They even blew the doors off The Great Escape. This was the football equivalent of Miami getting its power knocked out and its trees uprooted as the Dolphins curled around the toilet in the bathroom in the fetal position. ''Very, very disappointed,'' Dolphins Coach Nick Saban said afterward. ``I'm very frustrated. We got beat up out there today.''

Saban loves to use metaphors and analogies with his stories. He told his players one about confidence this week. Reminded them how little kids are afraid of the pool, kicking and screaming, until you put floaties on their arms. Then they trust the floaties, have confidence and you can't get them out of the water. ''Believe in the floaties,'' Saban said in repeating the story after Friday's game.

It is a really awful and ridiculous slogan in a game this savage. Believe in the floaties? So the Dolphins sank, drowned and the Chiefs left town with deflated floaties in their teeth. ''We have some players who sometimes don't play with the confidence I'd like to see in them,'' Saban said. They don't lack confidence, Coach. What they lack is talent.

If they were really, really good, confidence would be no problem whatsoever. But they aren't as good as the other guys, which is kind of the center of the confidence problem. So, for the second consecutive week, an aged defense and impotent offense conspired to barely keep Miami competitive. Fans booed for the first time under Saban, who ought to get this season and even the next for free after how predecessor Dave Wannstache wrecked this franchise.

Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor, the proud faces of this tired team, have to feel remarkably defeated today, as the 2-4 Dolphins look again like they are on their way to wasting another year on what is a ravaging and limited career life span. And now Saban may have a QB controversy on his hands again, too. Gus Frerotte, his starter, was terrible Friday, completing only 11 of 29 passes for 125 yards against a very bad defense and secondary. ''Man, we should have had so many more interceptions,'' said K.C. corner Pat Surtain (K.C. had one). ``I dropped two.''

Frerotte has been pretty bad the last three weeks, all Miami losses. His cause wasn't helped when backup Sage Rosenfels came in Friday, threw one pass and watched it go for a 77-yard touchdown to Chris Chambers. But by then the frustrated fans had already evacuated, so the stir in the empty stadium felt like something at a Florida Atlantic University game. ''I'm not here to say we're disappointed with Gus,'' Saban said. ``I'm not here to say we're satisfied with Gus.'' Not exactly a ringing endorsement from the boss, that one. The howling around this franchise at the moment, it isn't just the wind.

From the Stables: Ok Dan, the Dolphins might not be as bad as you think. Didn't they pound the Broncos 34-10 in the opener? Didn't they beat an NFC contender in the Carolina Panthers? Maybe, just maybe the Chiefs are better than you are giving them credit for? Nah the Chiefs couldn't be that good right? I know they Chiefs haven't looked good at times this season, but I think when they get their act together they are a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. Maybe, just maybe this was the beginning of seeing that Chiefs team.

DATELINE Miami Herald by Armando Salguero
The Miami Dolphins can't blame their ineffectiveness on a gaggle of penalties or a handful of turnovers or a plane ride to an opposing city. This time the Dolphins may have to look in a mirror and admit this 30-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs was the result of an inferior team facing a superior team and offering little resistance in front of precious few fans. ''We just didn't play very well,'' Dolphins coach Nick Saban said. ``Offensively we were not in sync with what we're doing to put drives together to possess the ball. We're not at all where we need to be on either side of the ball. ``The consistency is not what it needs to be down in, down out on either side of the ball.''

Until now, the Dolphins had fallen back on logical reasons for their previous losses. They had a team record 18 penalties in a loss to Buffalo, they were on the road in losses to the Jets and Tampa Bay. They simply were victims of circumstance. But Friday night turned out the lights on the excuses. The Dolphins had a season-low four penalties and had a huge advantage of playing at home in a game moved up two days by the prospect of a Hurricane Wilma landfall in Florida this weekend. The Chiefs arrived in South Florida at 9 a.m. after not even conducting a full practice Thursday.

And yet it was the Chiefs who scored on their first possession, pounding the Miami defense on an eight-play, 80-yard drive that set the tone for their performance. ''They showed up and played and we didn't,'' said linebacker Donnie Spragan, who replaced an injured Junior Seau for the second consecutive week. ``It didn't matter if the game was today or Sunday. If we played like we did today, we're going to lose.'' That was evident in Miami's response to the Kansas City opening drive: The Dolphins went three plays and out.

The Miami offense was in a fog the entire game except for two moments of clarity. The first bolt of lightning was a 65-yard touchdown run by rookie Ronnie Brown, and the second was a 77-yard touchdown pass to Chris Chambers. That second score might resonate for some time because it came from the arm of Sage Rosenfels with 2:35 left in the game. Rosenfels replaced Frerotte in that series and his first throw was the touchdown. Frerotte had struggled by completing 11 of 29 passes for 125 yards without a touchdown but one interception. Frerotte's passer rating for the game was a season-low 37.3. Rosenfels' passer rating was a perfect 158.3 because the TD pass was his only pass of the night.

Afterward, Frerotte took responsibility for his struggles, saying, ``I feel like I didn't play my best today. I have to go out and do that.'' Rosenfels shook off suggestions he should be Miami's starter. ''I'm here as an insurance policy,'' he said.

So maybe it's not a quarterback controversy in the making. But can you say quarterback quandary -- as in why not give Rosenfels more of a chance? ''I haven't thought about it yet,'' Saban said. ``The guy made one pass. I'm not here to say we're disappointed in Gus. I'm not going to say we're satisfied with Gus. If you ask him, I think he would tell you he's not satisfied with himself. ``We're here to say we'll help both guys improve and we'll make a decision on what is the better thing for our offensive team.'' Indeed, the Dolphins seemingly have more pressing issues than the quarterback position. They proved they are not infallible at home, losing their first home game of the season and third in a row to drop to 2-4.

The Miami secondary proved that all the good coaching and scheming in the world cannot overcome a lack of talent. That was obvious after cornerback Sam Madison left the game with a hip pointer, safety Tebucky Jones left the game with a pectoral muscle injury that could be serious, and safety Lance Schulters was forced to play most of the second half with a thigh bruise.

Cornerback Reggie Howard and safety Travares Tillman will be pressed into service and, although Tillman seemed to hold his own, Howard struggled as he has in at least two previous games. Howard not only yielded two significant completions -- including a 29-yarder that led to Kansas City's second touchdown -- but he also drew a defensive holding penalty that erased an interception by Travis Daniels. ''We don't seem to be playing with the confidence we need,'' Saban said.

And although Miami's defensive backfield yielded 277 net passing yards and Kansas City quarterback Trent Green completed 20 of 34 passes, the Chiefs' secondary mostly prospered. Chiefs cornerback Patrick Surtain, traded to the Chiefs in the offseason after seven seasons with the Dolphins, proved that his much-hyped practice duels with Chambers were not dominated by the receiver, as Chambers said this week. Surtain seemingly erased Chambers from field for much of the game -- he had zero receptions the first three quarters of the game. It wasn't until 8:16 remained in the fourth quarter that Chambers offered his first contribution -- an 11-yard catch.

When Chambers caught his 77-yarder, Surtain was not assigned to cover him. ''Guys, we need to make more plays,'' Saban said. ``And we need to put our players in a position to make plays. ``I believe in players and believe we need to make more plays than what we made. All we can do about this game is learn from it. It's very disappointing and I'm very frustrated. I know we're capable of playing better than what we played tonight.''

From the Stables: Patrick Surtain played his best game as a Chiefs on Friday. I hope that the Surtain we saw Friday is the one we'll continue to see each and every week for the rest of the season. If you don't count the two big plays by the Dolphins, the Chiefs defense totally dominated the game. I get the feeling Mr. Salguero understands that the Dolphins might not be as bad as the Chiefs made them look on Friday. I think he understands that the Chiefs were the far superior team and relates that to the Miami audience. I will say that I was expecting a very hard fought game in Miami and it never materialized, due to the play of the defense. I'm hoping that next week's game vs. the Chargers will show that this game wasn't an aberration, but just the start of a trend!

Check back again in a few days as From the Stables reviews the pre game analysis from the San Diego press as the Chiefs and Chargers prepare for a huge battle in the AFC West. What will the San Diego press have to say about the Chiefs/Chargers game and what kind of spin will they put on the game? Warpaint Illustrated's From the Stables will again be there to shine the light on them.

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