Chiefs Escape Arizona With A Win

After crushing the 49ers last week, the Chiefs were ready to find out whether they were pretenders or contenders. Sunday, they were set to face the Arizona Cardinals, who announced that Matt Leinart would start his first NFL game against the Chiefs.

Herm Edwards spent all week preaching to his players about surviving the first quarter. Falling behind early on the road usually spells disaster.

A little less than three minutes into the game, Leinart hooked up with Anquan Boldin for a 49-yard touchdown pass. Suddenly, the Chiefs were in the exact place Edwards didn't want them to be.

On KC's first possession, Larry Johnson and Damon Huard bumbled into their second botched handoff of the season, and the Cardinals recovered in Chiefs territory. Seven plays later and nine minutes into the game, the Chiefs faced a 14-0 deficit.

The Chiefs, who hadn't allowed a touchdown in 10 quarters coming into Sunday's game, needed an answer defensively, and got one from the defensive line.

Jared Allen sacked Leinart, and then collapsed the pocket with Tamba Hali on third down. Ron Edwards finished the play off with his first sack of the year.

Rookie Bernard Pollard then delivered a beautiful blocked punt, and the Chiefs scored three plays later on a touchdown reception by Johnson.

Suddenly, it was 14-10, and it seemed as if the Chiefs had all of the momentum.

After forcing the Cardinals to punt again, the Chiefs got the ball back with about two minutes left in the half, only to have Johnson fumble it right back to Arizona.

The defensive line came through again. Hali and Allen again forced Leinart to scramble, and Hali tackled him a yard short of the first down. Rackers drilled a 45-yard field goal right before halftime, sending the Chiefs to the locker room trailing by a touchdown.

Unfortunately, on the opening kick of the second half, return specialist Dante Hall hurt his back. Things would continue to get ugly for the Chiefs.

After a quick three-and-out by KC's offense, the Cardinals took over following a booming punt by Dustin Colquitt. The Chiefs defense needed to step up and take over the game.

Instead, they came up flat, just as they had done to start the game. For a while, it appeared as if Derrick Johnson, Allen and Hali were the only players showing up for the game.

The Cardinals tacked on another field goal. The Chiefs were down 10 points and needed to make something happen.

Sixth-round pick Jeff Webb lit a spark on the ensuing kickoff, ripping off a return to midfield. Unfortunately, Jordan Black was called for a holding penalty, and the Chiefs were forced to punt after an absolutely horrendous offensive series.

In fact, the whole offensive line let the Chiefs down all game long. It's quite apparent that Johnson is going to have a long year with the blocking he's forced to run behind. Johnson rushed 16 times for a meager 36 yards. Despite the poor blocking, Offensive Coordinator Mike Solari insisted on running the ball on almost every first down in the second half, making the offense more predictable than it needed to be.

Someone on the Chiefs needed to take control of the game. It ended up being Huard. He started out a little slow, but his fourth-quarter comeback was phenomenal.

Down 10, the Chiefs stopped Edgerrin James on consecutive downs, forcing an Arizona punt, and Huard went to work.

After a big catch by Eddie Kennison, fullback Ronnie Cruz got the Chiefs another first down, and then Solari pulled out a trick play. The Chiefs faked a reverse and Huard hit Samie Parker, getting the Chiefs in the red zone for the first time since Pollard's blocked punt.

Parker then redeemed himself after his earlier drops, hauling in a great touchdown catch in the back of the end zone, and the Chiefs found themselves down 20-17.

With seven minutes left in the game, it was time for the Chiefs defense to step up and force a turnover. Ty Law made the biggest play of the season, intercepting a Leinart pass intended for Boldin. He displayed beautiful footwork on the sideline, keeping his feet in bounds and putting the Chiefs on Arizona's doorstep again.

Adrian Wilson, who played a phenomenal game, broke up a potential touchdown pass intended for Tony Gonzalez, and then Kennison had a rare drop, leaving Tynes with a 40-yard field goal attempt to tie the game.

Tynes nailed the kick, and the game was tied. The defense went back to work.

Kendrell Bell made an amazing sack, forcing a third-and-long. Leinart then threw a perfect pass to Boldin on third down, but thanks to Greg Wesley's crushing blow, Boldin dropped the ball and the Cardinals were forced to punt.

Kansas City took over with their backs against the goal line. Solari then sent in the best call of the game. Huard set up a screen pass to Johnson, who raced up the sideline for a 78-yard gain. Johnson was violently brought down at Arizona's seven yard-line, laying motionless for several minutes before getting up. After witnessing the Trent Green hit in Week 1, it was deja vu for Chiefs fans, but Johnson walked off the field under his own power.

Johnson may not have had his best game, but he always seems to come up with a play when the Chiefs need it the most. Despite a lack of blocking, he still amassed 142 total yards and a touchdown.

With Johnson on the sidelines, disaster almost struck again. Dee Brown tried to give the ball back to Arizona, fumbling inside the two-yard line on third-and-goal. Fortunately, Jason Dunn recovered and the Chiefs had their first lead of the game after Tynes kicked his third field goal.

The Cardinals had one last shot.

Leinart threw two short passes to Edgerrin James before hitting a pass on fourth down to keep the drive alive. Then Troy Walters hauled in a long pass over the middle, and Arizona was in field goal range.

The Chiefs, deciding not to ice Cardinals placekicker Neil Rackers with a time out, watched joyously as the kick sailed wide right, ending the most dramatic game of the season.

It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win.

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