Monday Morning QB: Gritty, Not Pretty

For those who were fortunate to watch Thursday night's game between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs, you saw a typical AFC West battle. If you're a fan of the guys in red, you had to be concerned that field goals, not touchdowns, were the norm in the redzone.

This game was about surviving, and with Chiefs owner and founder Lamar Hunt in a Dallas hospital, this entire organization did what they had to do to win the game.

The Chiefs settled for field goals on Thursday. Trent Green, Tony Gonzalez and Larry Johnson did a solid job of moving the ball in the middle of the field, but once Kansas City smelled the redzone the offense stalled. In fact, their only touchdown of the night was aided by a pair of Broncos defensive penalties.

That lack of execution cost the Chiefs on numerous possessions. It allowed the Broncos, who struggled for most of the night offensively, to feel like they were always in the game. Granted, Denver's third-quarter touchdown drive would never have happened if the side judge didn't call a phantom penalty on cornerback Lenny Walls, negating a Patrick Surtain interception. With the Chiefs defense deflated, the Broncos took advantage and made a game of it in the third quarter, pulling within 13-10.

Entering the fourth quarter the Chiefs led 16-10 and the Broncos started to move the ball again on a tired KC defense. But a determined bunch of Chiefs defenders finally stopped Denver's momentum when Jared Allen tipped a Plummer pass, stalling the drive.

That meant this game would come down to the offense. They needed to seal the game with a touchdown. But after driving the ball into Denver territory by feeding Johnson, the Chiefs went to the air. Green made an ill-advised throw that was intercepted by Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams.

The bad part about the throw is that Green telegraphed his pass and didn't look downfied, where he had Eddie Kennison open for an easy first down. With Michael Bennett on the field, the Chiefs needed to work the clock and keep the ball on the ground. Kansas City had the ball with nine minutes left on the clock and a six-point lead. They should have stuck to the run, their bread-and-butter.

Fortunately for Green, KC's defense bailed him out, forcing Denver into a three and out on the ensuing possession.

But this game really boiled down to one thing: the Chiefs have played in some close football games this season. Those experiences were key in KC's desire to stop Denver from making big plays when it counted.

One of the players who stepped up was wide receiver Samie Parker, who made a key third-down catch that resulted in a 26-yard gain. That set up Michael Bennett's 41-yard scamper and Lawrence Tynes' fourth field goal of the night.

That was more than enough as Jake Plummer, who likely has lost his starting job to rookie Jay Cutler, could only manage one first down in the final drive before turning the ball over on downs.

This win, more than anything else, shows the heart and soul of this team. Don't get me wrong, the Chiefs are talented. But with so many guys banged up, the Chiefs also had to deal with the absence of Lamar Hunt, who was in the hospital. In the end, they came through.


Five to the Bench
1. CB Ty Law - He made a great interception on a tipped pass in the first quarter and he tackled well, but he has to adjust his depth when playing off coverage. He just doesn't have the closing speed anymore to bridge the distance between his drop and the receiver. His job is to keep the play in front of him, but in obvious passing situations I'd like to see him play tighter coverage.

2. CB Lenny Walls - Walls should have had two interceptions. He's getting plenty of playing time but his coverage skills are less than stellar. Teams are picking on him, and Jake Plummer generally threw the ball to his side of the field. I won't get on him for his illegal contact penalty, because it was a terrible call by the official. He needs to be more aware of where the ball is at all times.

3. OC Mike Solari - Trent Green told reporters that the only statistic that mattered since his return was the 2-0 record. But settling for field goals will cost this team down the road. The Chiefs have to put the ball into the end zone. If not for the fact Larry Johnson showed off some new moves on Thursday night , the Chiefs might not have had the opportunity to kick those field goals. It's still a learning process, to say the least, but Solari needs to use the next 10 days to get on the same page with Green for the stretch run.

4. QB Jake Plummer - It appears that Plummer will literally be benched. After guiding Denver to a second consecutive AFC West loss, it appears that rookie Jay Cutler will get the nod against Seattle. It's been a fun ride for Jake the Snake, but it appears his Mile High stay is coming to an end. But don't worry, because he'll be back with someone next year. Maybe the Raiders.

5. HC Mike Shanahan - He's really botched the Plummer/Cutler quarterback controversy. Jay Cutler has loads of potential, but he can't run the ball and the Broncos are a terrible running team right now. The offensive line is not playing well and Plummer has been forcing the ball to covered receivers. Shanahan, for all his genius, has really messed up what should have been a promising 2006 season. Now it appears he's turning it over to a rookie, who outside of one stellar year in college, is going to be put in the position to save the season. He'd be smarter to ride Plummer until the end of the season.

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