Monday Morning QB: Bad Start, Great Finish

The Chiefs went into a hostile environment against an inferior opponent on Sunday. When you're on the road, you can't play or start the game with less passion than the home team. The veterans have to set the tone. Clearly, that didn't happen early as Larry Johnson fumbled twice early and the offensive line melted down. Despite it, the Chiefs still found a way to win.

The veterans that failed to set the tone early put up a fight as they tried to gain momentum in the second half. But it was a rookie who turned the game around. Bernard Pollard blocked a punt late in the first half, setting up Damon Huard's first touchdown pass.

Huard, who will likely be the starter next week in Pittsburgh, fought gallantly. His offensive line was not stable. Offensive tackles Jordan Black and Kevin Sampson struggled. But Huard would not allow his team to give up and he engineered a picture-perfect fourth quarter drive that brought the Chiefs within three points.

Say what you want about Huard, but he played his second consecutive game as the starter and didn't throw an interception. He had two more touchdown passes on Sunday and he's doing his best Mike Livingston impersonation. He's shed the label of "backup quarterback," and his teammates believe in him.

But the poor play of the offensive line does not bode well for the rest of the season, especially if Kyle Turley can't return to the field anytime soon. At least it didn't bother Huard, however, and that's all that really matters, at least for now. It might be a problem in Pittsburgh next week, but the Steelers are reeling.

To the Cardinals credit, they had a solid game plan on Sunday and they took what the Chiefs gave them, especially in the first half. Turnovers were a problem, to say the least, and Arizona capitalized on KC's miscues for ten points.

Matt Leinart came out firing and the Chiefs defense fell victim to his rookie enthusiasm. In consecutive series he led Arizona to touchdowns, throwing a 49-yard touchdown bomb to Anquan Boldin and following it up with a five-yarder to Larry Fitzgerald. At that point, the Chiefs had to feel like they were going in for a long afternoon.

The defense was probably wondering if it was ever going to stop Leinart, but after those first two series, they stood their ground and gave up just six points.

The turnaround came because KC's pass rush geared up. They recorded four sacks of Leinart and harassed him constantly. Tamba Hali and Jared Allen had fantastic games.

The game changed in the fourth quarter when the defense wouldn't allow the Cardinals offense to get on track. On a critical third-and-inches play, the defensive line shut down Cardinals running back Edgerrin James. On Arizona's next possession, Sammy Knight made a huge third-down stop and forced Arizona to punt.

And that set the stage for Ty Law's interception, perhaps the play of the game. That set up Lawrence Tynes' 40-yard field goal that tied the score at 20.

But the defense wasn't done. Linebacker Kendrell Bell sacked Leinart and that gave the ball back to Kansas City's offense, who responded with a huge play. Huard flipped Johnson a screen pass and it turned into a 78-yard gain. The play almost decapitated Johnson, but he walked off the field standing tall after coming through for the Chiefs when they really needed him.

The remarkable part of this two-game winning streak is how well each side of the ball is playing and the unity they're developing.

Law and tight end Jason Dunn both told me that each side of the ball feeds off the other. After the offense came back in the second half, the defense made another stand and they did what they had to do - get a turnover. The offense took that cue and grabbed the lead.

This is a good football team. They win and lose as a team. Herm Edwards has brought that mentality to the Chiefs and it bodes very well for the tough three-game stretch coming up. The Chiefs go to Pittsburgh before hosting division-leader San Diego and the Seattle Seahawks.

If the Chiefs can sneak in another road win at Pittsburgh next weekend, the season that began with a thud will be resurrected. Next week's game might be the one that everyone remembers when the season is over. But it wouldn't have been possible if the Chiefs hadn't come from behind in Arizona.

Five to the Bench:
1. LT Jordan Black - After doing a great job against the San Francisco 49ers a week ago, Black committed a critical holding penalty following Jeff Webb's long kick-off return. He was soundly beat on passing downs because he was unable to pick up Arizona's blitzing corners and linebackers. Let's hope Turley can return to the lineup next week in Pittsburgh. Otherwise, Huard might join Trent Green on the injured list.

2. RT Kevin Sampson - When your bookend tackles can't get the job done against a poor front seven, what does that say about your offensive line? It's hard to read Sampson because he has so much talent, but he's just never been able to get the job done consistently from one week to the next. The Chiefs don't really have much of a choice because Will Svitek is out for at least one more week. Maybe John Welbourn can help this team after his suspension, but other than that, the options at tackle are poor.

3. WR Samie Parker - No, I didn't miss his brilliant touchdown catch in the fourth quarter, but I can't stand a guy who gets a case of the dropsies. After his big grab in the corner of the end zone, he dropped a crucial third-down catch that would have resulted in a first down. That was his second drop, and it has to stop. It was good to see Rod Gardner catch a couple of passes. If Parker can't be more consistent, he may end up splitting time with the veteran.

4. OC Mike Solari - After calling an excellent game a week ago, he failed to take advantage of an over-aggressive Cardinals front seven. It's a learning process, to say the least, but Tony Gonzalez was almost a non-factor. Where were the screen passes and the runs to the long side of the field? He made a good call on Johnson's big catch-and-run, but the Chiefs could have used some screen passes earlier in the game. It was nice to see Ronnie Cruz get a couple of catches. That has to happen more frequently so defenses will stop keying on Johnson.

5. CB Lenny Walls - I was very disappointed with his coverage. He was burned badly on Leinart's first touchdown pass and nearly gave up another one in the third quarter. Walls must use his size and be more physical at the line of scrimmage. He might have looked better if his safety teammates hadn't screwed up. On Boldin's touchdown, Sammy Knight failed to secure the middle of the field. Greg Wesley was late coming over to help Walls on the dropped touchdown.

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