Road Woes

Last week I wrote, "Finally, if the Chiefs can take care of business on the road in Cleveland next week, I'll genuinely consider them a legitimate playoff team."

I didn't think that was too much to ask. When Trent Green found Tony Gonzalez for his fourth touchdown pass of the day, giving the Chiefs a 14-point lead with 12:19 to go, I was certain this team would be playing in January.

Then, just as quickly as the Al Saunders-esque offense had resurrected itself, the defense of old was right there alongside it. After Gonzalez's second touchdown of the day the Chiefs were unable to stop world-beater Derek Anderson and the rest of the Browns.

It's quite the enigma, figuring out these Chiefs. If the defense is strong and making plays, the offense is lackluster. If the offense is firing on all cylinders, the defense seems to think they can take it down a notch. The Chiefs can have one or the other, just not both.

The coaching is just as much to blame as the players. While the Chiefs' defenders were preoccupied with tackling air, it seemed that the coaching staff was desperately just trying to get the game into overtime instead of winning it in regulation.

On Cleveland's last drive of the fourth quarter that ultimately knotted the game at 28, the Chiefs had several opportunities to save precious seconds in an effort to give Lawrence Tynes a shot at a game winning field goal. Instead, the game would end deadlocked with Herm Edwards still holding two timeouts in his pocket.

After Kawika Mitchell's timely pick of an Anderson pass set Kansas City up at the Browns 46 with five seconds left, the Chiefs chose to run one play, hoping to move closer for a field goal attempt while stopping the clock.

That's fine, but if you're going to do that you better make damn sure when that receiver catches the ball he's not laying on his stomach in the field of play. In the end, Gonzalez was unable to get out of bounds in time (even though replays showed he did, it was an un-reviewable play) and the Chiefs were forced to take their chances in overtime.

Here's a thought: Why not give Tynes a shot at a 63-yard field goal to win it?

He's got the leg. He even had a strong tailwind. He's made field goals in the past that could have easily been good from 60. If Tennessee's Rob Bironas can do it from 60, I have no problem thinking Tynes could have done the same.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda. In the end, all of that is irrelevant. The bottom line is this is not a good football team when playing away from Arrowhead, and playoff teams win games on the road. Playoff teams beat other playoff teams on the road. The Chiefs have only managed to beat the likes of Arizona and St. Louis outside of Arrowhead. That's hardly a sparkling resume.

For semblance of a playoff team, look to the Jets. While they too lost in Cleveland, they also beat division leading New England in Foxboro. See Cincinnati, a team that pounded New Orleans down in the bayou.

A week ago it looked as if the AFC West would steal both the wild card spots. Now it looks as if both Kansas City and Denver will be on the outside looking in. Any chance the Chiefs have of stumbling into the postseason rests on maintaining a recently unblemished record playing at home in December. In addition to that, they'll need to find a way to muster a win on the road in either San Diego or Oakland. Even then, it still might not be enough.

But if it is, do the Chiefs really stand a chance on the road in the playoffs against a New England or Baltimore?

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