Arrowhead Stadium was rocking Sunday afternoon when the Chiefs pulled out a thrilling 30-27 victory against the San Diego Chargers.
Lawrence Tynes kicked a career-long 53-yard field goal with six seconds remaining to clinch the game for Kansas City, who was coming off an embarrassing 45-7 loss the previous week.
It's amazing how much things can change in one week, as the Chiefs defense came out of the gates looking to prove the game in Pittsburgh was only a fluke.
Consistency is the key to having a good defense, and the Chiefs have two defensive ends, Tamba Hali and Jared Allen, who bring their A games every week. Allen forced a Philip Rivers fumble to set up one of two first-quarter touchdowns for the Chiefs.
The defense forced three first-quarter turnovers and looked as if they were going to turn this game into a rout.
But the story of the game wasn't the defense. It was Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard. Herm Edwards knew he was going to have to get a big performance out of Huard for Kansas City to beat the Chargers and their top-ranked defense.
Huard threw the ball so well today that it's not surprising in the least that after seven weeks of this NFL season, his quarterback rating of 106.3 tops the league. Huard stepped up in the pocket and made several excellent passes, seemingly un-intimidated by San Diego's fearsome front seven. His ability to make the right decision quickly was a big reason the Chiefs pulled the game out in the end.
Huard definitely wasn't shy about who he wanted to throw the ball to, either. Tony Gonzalez played perhaps his best game in years without even finding the end zone. The ten-year veteran made one of the most spectacular yards-after-catch plays in recent memory, carrying several San Diego defenders with him downfield for an enormous 57-yard reception.
The Chargers dared Huard to beat them, and that's exactly what he did. His confidence and tremendous poise on the final possession of the game was a thing of beauty. Anything Huard lacks in skill, he makes up for with his football intelligence and his ability to play in the clutch.
Another good sign for the Chiefs was the play of running back Larry Johnson, who had perhaps his best game of the year, showing exactly why many experts predicted a 2,000-yard season for the fourth-year pro. The game plan today allowed Johnson to reel off several long runs, and Brian Waters opened up hole after hole for #27. The Chiefs took advantage of San Diego's blitzing defense and ran several draw plays to the left side, resulting in big gains.
Johnson's most impressive play came, once again, at the game's biggest moment. On KC's final possession, Huard dumped a short pass to Johnson, who proceeded to break several tackles and get out of bounds, allowing the Chiefs to preserve a timeout. Huard then hit Gonzalez on back-to-back throws and the rest was history.
The impressive play of Huard, Gonzalez and Johnson is exactly what the Chiefs needed to climb back into the AFC West race.
It wasn't a perfect game, and the defense played poorly in the second half, but a win against a division rival is sweet any way you can get it.
At 3-3, the Chiefs face former division foe Seattle (4-2) at Arrowhead next Sunday. The Seahawks, who lost to Minnesota on Sunday, will potentially be without MVP Shaun Alexander and Pro-Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. If Hasselbeck is healthy enough to play, the Chiefs will face a very potent passing attack and a team capable of putting up big numbers on the road against quality teams. Kansas City's secondary will need to play a great game if they expect to improve to 4-3 and become serious playoff contenders.
The Chiefs Are Back In The Race
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