High Fives All Around

Every so often in the NFL, a team wins a game it probably shouldn't. On Sunday, that team was the Chiefs.

The Chiefs fell behind early (trailed 14-0 at the end of the first quarter), turned the ball over (two Larry Johnson fumbles) and failed to establish a running game (just 39 yards on 22 carries).

Think the Chiefs care? Of course not. When you are on the road – no matter what the team or venue - you will always take a win.

And so the Chiefs are 2-2 overall, escaping Glendale, Arizona with a 23-20 win over the Cardinals. If the Chiefs lost the game, it would have been the end of their season. No way they could have recovered from a 1-3 start. Not with San Diego and Denver playing as well as they are and not with the emergence of teams like Baltimore, Jacksonville and Cincinnati - all teams that are sure to be playoff contenders at season's end.

This was a huge win. Playing at Heinz Field against the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers this week will be even tougher. The Steelers will be desperate. They have lost three straight games after winning the season opener and will bring their best game. The Chiefs will need a much better performance than anything they've shown to date. It won't be easy, and a win might not even be likely. But let's not worry about that right now.

Instead, lets toss around some high-fives, because without some big-time performances from several players and coaches, Chiefs fans would be screaming in their collective shirts today - drinking away the pain of another 7-9, 8-8 non-playoff season. At .500, and with two of the next three games at home, the Chiefs have plenty of reason for optimism looking forward.

High-fives to ...

The defensive coaching staff:

The Cardinals opened the game with an aggressive attack, fooling the Chiefs and catching them off-guard. The Chiefs didn't expect to see rookie quarterback Matt Leinart get the full keys to the engine in just his first NFL start, and the Cardinals made them pay for it. A 49-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive put the Chiefs in an early hole. The next drive resulted in another Arizona touchdown, and the Chiefs were starting to look like the defense of old. But the defensive coaching staff made the proper adjustments and relied on the front four to create pressure on Leinart. Some well-designed zone blitzes kept Leinart guessing and forced him out of the pocket, particularly in the second half. The result: just six points allowed the rest of the way - two Neil Rackers field goals.

Larry Johnson:

If you were like me, you spent the entire game saying, "What's wrong with Larry Johnson?" He just didn't seem like himself. He was slow to hit the holes, he didn't break tackles and it just didn't seem like he had his usual burst of speed. To make things worse, he put the ball on the turf twice, fumbling away two potential scoring opportunities. He was the front-runner as team goat. But if Johnson has done one thing throughout his short career in Kansas City, it's make plays, and that is exactly what he did with the score tied at 20 late in the game. Johnson took a screen pass on first down and sprinted down the sidelines for a 78-yard gain, setting up the winning field goal. He was dragged down from behind by his facemask and laid motionless on the sidelines for several moments, appearing to be in obvious pain. But soon enough, he sat up - just like the Undertaker from the WWE used to do - and walked off the field as if nothing had happened. Johnson proved that even on his worst day, he is still one of the best.

Ty Law:

Law's interception late in the fourth quarter was not all that difficult. Leinart threw a poor pass and Law was in perfect position to make the grab. But guess what? Dexter McCleon doesn't make that play. Eric Warfield doesn't make that play. And William Bartee definitely doesn't make that play. If nothing else, Law is going to help the Chiefs close out games this season, or create a momentum-changing play. That's something this defense has been missing over the last several years: playmakers. Think back to all the games in the Dick Vermeil era when KC's defense was on the field with a chance to clinch the game. Did it not seem that the cornerbacks always seemed to have the dropsies? You can go back to 2004 in the Jacksonville game, when Warfield dropped a sure interception that would have sealed it. Patrick Surtain's drop last year against the Cowboys would have been an easy six points the other way. We could go back even further if you'd like. The point is Law is going to make those plays, and as long as he does, he will be worth all the money the Chiefs threw at him in the offseason. If not for his interception, the Chiefs might not have left Arizona with a win.

Trent Green:

Just because Green isn't healthy enough to play does not mean his presence isn't felt. Green has been Damon Huard's second coach and has done everything he can to help out his team. He's a cheerleader on the sideline, and has not only passed on advice and encouragement to Huard, but is teaching young Brodie Croyle as well. Green is everything you could ask for in a teammate. He is an unselfish player who lives and dies with every play, whether he is a part of them or not. While Priest Holmes is probably somewhere on a nacho-tasting tour, Green is where he should be: With his team. It's good to know who the leader is.

Lawrence Tynes:

Rumors abound that Herman Edwards would rather kick field goals than score touchdowns. If those rumors are true, then Chiefs fans can take comfort in knowing that Tynes is legitimately one of the league's best kickers. He's raised his level of play and has really shown poise and confidence, regardless of the situation. If it were Pete Stoyanovich, Todd Peterson or that other kicker who shall not be named (it rhymes with "fin belly spit"), admit it - you would not have felt 100 percent confidence over the 19-yard field goal that Tynes made Sunday. With Chiefs kickers, something bad always happens. It could be a block, a shank, a bad snap or a hold. You name it, it's happened. But Tynes is steady, and so far this season he has made several critical kicks. More impressively, he has been able to kick the ball into the end zone on kickoffs. If the kickoff coverage weren't so poor, they'd get a high-five too. Maybe next time.

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