The Agony of Victory

Under normal circumstances the expression "The Thrill of Victory and The Agony of Defeat" is a perfect way to describe the mood of the Chiefs locker room after each game. Unfortunately, with the retirement of head coach Dick Vermeil and the recollections of missed opportunities in 2005, Kansas City's final "victory Monday" feels more like a loss.

Kansas City's 37-3 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals invoked more frustration than elation as it only magnified the Chiefs missed opportunities against Philadelphia, Buffalo, Dallas, and New York. These feelings were echoed by All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez following the game "This is a very good football team, I don't think anybody wants to play us right now (in the playoffs) if we were able to go," said Gonzalez.

He then went on to point his frustration inward as the high level of disgust still resounded in his voice. "We won 10 games this year and it wasn't good enough to get in so now it's on to next year. That's how it goes, we've got to deal with it, we can't blame anyone else, and it is our fault. I look back at the Dallas game and I look back at the Philly game as games we easily could have won."

Dick Vermeil also shared his disappointment in his teams' slight miss of the playoffs in his final post game press conference as the Chiefs head coach. "They played hard and its been a challenging six weeks, we were fortunate to win four of them, one short of what we needed to be a playoff team. But I think they demonstrated they are a playoff caliber football team we just didn't get done some of the things we needed to get done at the time they needed to be done."

If the Chiefs had lost one of their final two games their absence from the playoffs would be a lot easier to accept. A losing streak capped by a loss to the Chargers or Bengals would have left most with the opinion that the Chiefs just weren't good enough to advance to the post season. Instead the Chiefs came out a dominated what is currently the best front seven in football and then limited the NFL's 3rd scoring offense to three points the following week. When a team can beat the Bengals and Chargers by a combined score of 57-10 it is obvious they have the talent to advance deep in to the playoffs.

With Kansas City's great offensive line and powerful running game they are exactly the type of team that no one wants to face in January. Add in their ability take it up another notch on defense and there isn't a single playoff team that he Chiefs can't beat. When you look at all of the teams being represented in the AFC you cant help but imagine how the Chiefs might fair if they somehow made it in to Super Bowl contention.

Colts – The Colts are a good team, you don't reel of 13 wins in a row on accident. The Chiefs on the other hand would have the ability to score with the Colts and go toe to toe in a shootout. If Kansas City happened to make the playoffs they would be the team the Colts would have to fear the most.

Broncos – The Chiefs have already proven they can beat the Denver Broncos and at this point in the season the Chiefs might even be the better of the two teams. Denver should consider themselves fortunate that they won't have to face Kansas City for a third time.

Patriots – As long as Tom Brady is their quarterback and Bill Belichick is their head coach the Patriots will always be dangerous. Even though the Chiefs have already beaten the Patriots once this season it might take a perfect game to beat them again.

Bengals – Even though the Chiefs only had to defend against Carson Palmer for the first quarter of Sunday's game it doesn't change the fact that they decimated the Bengals first team defense. If the two teams had faced one another in the playoffs one would expect to see more of a shootout than was witnessed this weekend but the Chiefs clearly proved they have what it takes to beat the Bengals at their own game.

Jacksonville – The Jaguars have clearly been a benefactor of their weak AFC South division and had they been in the AFC West they'd probably setting in fourth place right now. They are without question the weakest team in the AFC bracket and it will be hard for the Chiefs and Chargers to swallow the Jaguars presence in the playoffs while they are sitting at home in January.

Steelers – It came down to the Chiefs and Steelers for the AFC's final wildcard spot and it is unfortunate that the two couldn't have met head to head to decide who would advance. The Chiefs and Steelers present many of the same dangers to the rest of the teams in the playoffs and a game between the two teams would have been a wildly entertaining contest. It is a shame that one of the two teams had to be left out of the post season.

As Arrowhead was vacated for the final time this season its usual post victory bustle was non existent. The team's bar chart that tracks their success through the season was still hanging in the team meeting room with a blank result for Cincinnati. Players were scarcely seen outside of Brian Waters, Jared Allen and Tony Gonzalez who were simultaneously answering a barrage of questions. The rest of the locker room was silent and vacant other than three or four players with down heads and long faces.

Amidst the uncertainty and despair came a reminder of the important things in life as Kawika Mitchell straggled back in the locker room with his little boy in tow. After all, with all things being equal football is still a game, it is entertainment. This game isn't life or death; the Chiefs will eventually get over this season and survive the upcoming transition. Carl Peterson has no shortage of qualified candidates for the next head coach and with ascending young players on both sides of the ball 2006 will be something to look forward to.

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