Now We Know

On a cold Sunday afternoon in Cleveland, we finally found out what the 2006 Chiefs are all about. This is a team that has decided they don't really want to be in the playoffs.

Up by 14 points in the fourth quarter against a 3-8 Cleveland team reduced to a backup quarterback, the Chiefs apparently believed they had done enough. The Cleveland Browns, however, refused to lay down.

Led by Derek Anderson, who saw the first significant action of his NFL career, the Browns rallied to tie the game with 36 seconds remaining before driving for the game-winning field goal in overtime.

It was nothing short of a pathetic performance by the Chiefs.

This Monday, when the Kansas City defensive unit cashes their game checks, they will commit more serious crimes than most convicted thieves in federal prison. Not only did they give up 438 yards to a unit that averaged 256 per game, they were also beaten by a raw, 2005 sixth-round draft choice in his first real game.

The offense is also not without blame. They failed to produce when they had two chances to put together a winning drive: at the end of regulation and after winning the toss in overtime. The Chiefs have no excuses to whine about unfair overtime structures or poor officiating. They only have their lack of desire to blame.

The entire game can be summarized by one critical play. Facing second-and-15 from the Kansas City 45, the Chiefs flushed Anderson from the pocket with a strong pass rush. He evaded a sack and raced down the sideline where safety Greg Wesley looked ready to tackle him after a moderate gain. Wesley apparently assumed Anderson was simply a quarterback that required nothing more than half an effort to push out of bounds. Instead, Anderson plowed through Wesley's lazy, high tackle and darted all the way to the Kansas City 13. Game over.

This one play showed Cleveland's determination matched against Kansas City's nonchalance. The bottom line wasn't skill or ability. It was about will. Cleveland wanted to salvage their pride after last week's 30-0 humiliation against Cincinnati more than the Chiefs wanted to make the playoffs.

After all the talk about a new style of play directed at winning games on the road, we find out they are same old Chiefs: just good enough to make you believe before they break your heart.

If the Chiefs lack the will to stop one of the NFL's least effective offenses with a 14-point fourth quarter lead, there is no reason to believe they can take on a championship-caliber squad on the road.

Even if Kansas City miraculously backs into the playoffs, this is a team that will simply slink quietly into the night.

In the last month of the season, Herm Edwards will have to work some kind of transformational magic on his team's character before we can expect any kind of different result.

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