Monday Morning QB: Majestic Kick

There's no better way to start an NFL game than with a short field. On the Chiefs first three possessions, the offense had the ball in Chargers territory and scored on two of them. That set the tone for a big win against an AFC opponent. The fact it came against a division rival made the day even sweeter.

Kicker Lawrence Tynes redeemed himself after missing a field goal and an extra point earlier in the game, nailing a 53-yard field goal with six seconds left.

The Chargers, who entered the game with the NFL's top-ranked defense, left Arrowhead with their heads down and their tails between their legs. They blew a golden opportunity to bury the Chiefs. Instead of taking advantage, they let Kansas City back in the AFC West race by dropping their second tough road game of the season.

Going into Sunday's contest, it was hard to gauge the Chiefs attitude during the week, but head coach Herm Edwards lit into his team on Wednesday. Clearly, they got the message.

Though the offense failed to score after defensive end Jared Allen recovered LaDainian Tomlinson's fumble, they found the end zone on three of the next four possessions. That gave the unit some confidence, and they needed it when they had to drive 50 yards late in the fourth quarter.

But the star of the day was the defense, who bounced back after being torched by Pittsburgh a week ago. Though the secondary might have been vulnerable to a more experienced quarterback than Philip Rivers, the defensive line and linebackers were flying all over the field.

Rivers threw a pick and fumbled the ball on two separate possessions, resulting in 14 points for the Chiefs. The third-year quarterback had been steady in four of five games this year, but he was clearly affected by the pressure of KC's pass rush. He was forced to burn all of his first-half timeouts on failed attempts to audible.

For the most part, the Chiefs did an outstanding job of bottling up Tomlinson, who has a history of wilting when he gets hit. The Chiefs made sure they had four or five helmets on him every time he touched the ball. He broke a couple of long runs in the second half, but for the most part the Chiefs did what they had to do to prevent him from taking the game over, as he did a week ago in San Francisco. The Chiefs have to be pleased that he totaled just 66 yards rushing.

The Chargers were able to move the ball between the twenties in the first half. Several Chiefs whiffed on potential sacks, allowing drives to continue. That can't happen next Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

You certainly can't repeat the lack of aggression at the end of the first half. You can't publicly allow your offensive players to yell at the sidelines and question the decision by the head coach to sit on the ball at the 37-yard line with all three of your timeouts. That's inexcusable, especially after the Chargers missed a 47-yard field goal and momentum had swung back to the Chiefs. Especially when you know that in the last 20 games, the Chargers had not allowed a touchdown on the opening possession of the second half.

Clearly that plan didn't work in the second half, as the Chiefs went three and out on their first possession. Seconds later, the Chiefs were defending the Chargers in the red zone after a 50-yard punt return by Eric Parker. That was just enough of a spark to ignite the Chargers, who narrowed the gap to 20-13 with 9:30 left in the third quarter.

That's the problem I have with this football team. It needs to find its' identity sooner or later. Fortunately, Trent Green, John Welbourn and Kyle Turley will be back on the field in the next few weeks, and that might make this offense dangerous again.

But this season probably isn't going to boil down to the offense. The key to this whole season is going to be the ability of the defense to play consistently in all four quarters.

The second-half breakdowns against San Diego were inexcusable. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham didn't call a very solid game after halftime, and his all-out blitz on fourth down backfired when nobody covered Tomlinson out of the backfield on his 37-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.

Some of the defensive players have to learn how to play with a killer instinct. As Chiefs fans would attest, the defense is much better this year, but they have to put the hammer down when faced with a big play, big down or critical juncture in the game, especially at home. They can't count on a replay challenge to bail them out, as it did midway through the fourth quarter when head referee Bill Leavy correctly overturned a third-down catch by Antonio Gates.

But give the defense credit, because late in the game, needing to stop the Chargers from attempting a game-winning field goal, they stiffened. Tamba Hali's sack was a big-time play, and gave the offense the ball.

It was a good win – a must win. The Chiefs are back in the division race and have confidence going into the Seattle game.

Five to the Bench 1. HC Herm Edwards - As I stated earlier in the article, you can't be as conservative as he was in the first half. I understand his reasoning, but the problem with sitting on the ball is that it's never good when your players question you in front of 78,000 booing fans. It tells the players that the coaching staff doesn't have any confidence in the offense. You still have to try and pile on some points. You have to do anything you can to get a three-possession lead in the second half.

2. KR Dante Hall - How can you be one of the best return men in the NFL and think it's a wise move to return a kickoff seven yards deep in the end zone? Hall missed last week's game at Pittsburgh, and he might as well have sat out Sunday's contest. I know Jeff Webb is a rookie, but he would not have attempted a return on such a deep kick. Fortunately, the offense bailed Hall out as they methodically marched into San Diego territory and eventually scored a touchdown. It could have been much, much worse.

3. LB Kawika Mitchell - It's pretty simple. If you have a bead on the quarterback after shooting the gap, you better bring him down. On two occasions, Mitchell whiffed. He was untouched on both plays. This isn't the first time Mitchell has blown that kind of play. He needs to keep his head up and stop biting on shoulder fakes.

4. RT Kevin Sampson - John Welbourn can't get back on the field fast enough. Sampson's play at tackle, especially late in the fourth quarter, was awful. He just doesn't finish off pass rushers, and he should never run after an opposing defensive tackle. He needs to use his upper body strength and his leg drive to contain pass rushers. Don't get me started about the last drive, because the Chargers only rushed four, and that was a reflection of their bad coaching, not Sampson's struggles blocking.

5. LT Jordan Black - Is there anything else that can be said about Black? He's still struggling in pass protection, and that's all there is to it. Like Sampson, when his team needs him at a critical juncture, Black can't get the job done. If anyone has any ideas for curing Kyle Turley's ailing back, please share them with me via e-mail. I'll take every single country recipe or miracle cure and administer them to Turley myself.

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