Will The Real Kansas City Chiefs Stand Up?

To put it bluntly, I'm confused. Everything we knew about the Chiefs before last Sunday's game told us they would compete with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Instead, they looked like an expansion team.

What happened? I can understand why Santonio Holmes raced 50 yards on the game's third play from scrimmage. Ty Law slipped on the shoddy Heinz Field playing surface.

But after that, I found myself pounding my couch in frustration. Why? What? How?

It didn't make any sense.

The Chiefs had been a sound tackling team up until the Pittsburgh game. Suddenly, it looked like the Greg Robinson era all over again. Safety Jarrad Page threw a half-hearted elbow at Steelers wide receiver Nate Washington. Cornerback Patrick Surtain played the role of a speed bump on Najeh Davenport's 48-yard gallop.

The play of the defensive secondary was just as bad. There were gaping holes in KC's zone defense.

But why? Why did this happen against an offense ranked near the bottom of the league? Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was playing like Ryan Leaf through the first five weeks of the season. Last Sunday he looked like Peyton Manning.

Kansas City's defense had played better football against teams with more offensive talent. They had looked downright dominant at times.

And that's why the 45-7 loss was so incredibly frustrating to watch. Chiefs fans expected better. Now, many are talking as if the season might as well be over.

What about the offense? What happened to the running game? We saw Larry Johnson pound his way to 126 hard-earned yards against the Broncos in Week 2. That's the team in Denver. The one with one of the league's better run defenses.

Since then he's failed to crack the 40-yard barrier. The Chiefs have been running the football like a team that's intent on throwing games for draft position.

So which is the real Chiefs team? Is it the one that took the 4-1 Broncos to overtime on the road? Is it the one that dominated the San Francisco 49ers?

Or is it really as bad as the one that showed up in Pittsburgh?

I guess we'll find out over the next two weeks. There will be no doubt about what kind of team the Chiefs have after they get done hosting the San Diego Chargers and the Seattle Seahawks.

San Diego is a squad that's firing on all cylinders at the moment. They boast the top-ranked defense and the third-ranked offense. If the Chiefs can beat them, maybe they're a little better than they showed in Pittsburgh. Heck, they might even get a little bit of respect around the league and in the power rankings. A man can dream, can't he?

Seattle isn't quite as daunting the following week, but if the Chiefs can crank up their running game against a team that's allowing a meager 3.4 yards per carry, we'll rest a little easier. Stop Seattle's offense, even without Shaun Alexander, and we'll be able to have a bit more confidence in Herm Edwards' defensive renovation.

The "real" Kansas City Chiefs fell down in Pittsburgh. Will they stand up over the next two weeks? Let's hope they can do so without the assistance of a walking cane.

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