Inside Slant - Chiefs/Browns Grades

This was the game the Chiefs needed to win, should have won and expected to win. It was a game for separation from the AFC pack and a game of proving that the old days of blowing winnable games on the road were over. It was a game that, of course, the Chiefs lost. To the Browns. Against a backup quarterback.

"We played well today," said tight end Tony Gonzalez. "We just didn't finish."

Gonzalez didn't qualify his statement, but he should have. The offense played well. They turned in an effort good enough to win just about every week. But the defense gave up over 400 yards to the NFL's second-worst offense.

"They moved the ball at will," said Chiefs coach Herm Edwards.

Now the Chiefs (7-5) have dropped themselves from controlling their playoff destiny to having to scoreboard-watch for the next couple of weeks while almost certainly needing to beat three of their final four opponents - Baltimore, San Diego, Jacksonville and Oakland - to be in the playoff picture.

The Chiefs remain intriguing to NBC, at least. The network chose the Chiefs' game at San Diego for part of its "flex" schedule for Sunday night.



NOTES, QUOTES

--The Chiefs registered just one sack Sunday, by linebacker Keyaron Fox, who came unblocked on an overtime blitz.

Sunday was just the second game this season in which neither DE Jared Allen nor DE Tamba Hali registered a sack.

"My worst day of the year," said Allen.

--Sunday was a meeting of one of the NFL's best young tight ends in Kellen Winslow and one headed for the Hall of Fame in Tony Gonzalez. Though Gonzalez won the battle with nine catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns to Winslow's one grab, Winslow won the war.

"It wasn't about sending a message to him," Gonzalez said. "I'm not out there playing to make him look bad or say I'm better than him. I'm trying to help our team win, and I hope he's doing the same thing."



PLAYER NOTES

--TE Tony Gonzalez passed Jerry Smith for second on the NFL's all-time touchdown receptions list for tight ends with his 60th and 61st career TD grabs Sunday.

--LB Keyaron Fox's sack in overtime was the first of his career. He led the Chiefs with 12 tackles.

--TE Kris Wilson has the Chiefs' highest rate of touchdowns per touch, having scored three times on 10 receptions this season. He had a six-yard TD grab Sunday but later dropped a key pass on third down.

--WR Eddie Kennison had his best game of the season against the Browns with seven catches for 117 yards and a touchdown.

--QB Trent Green had his best game statistically this season, but he threw an interception for the second time in as many weeks, launching a deep ball intended for TE Kris Wilson that was slightly underthrown and picked off.



STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL REPORT CARD VS. BROWNS

PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Trent Green's interception was costly not because the Browns scored off it (they didn't) but because it came on a deep shot the Chiefs, who were controlling the line of scrimmage, did not need to take. Still, you can't fault Green for a 297-yard, four-touchdown day.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus -- It was a non-descript day for Larry Johnson, who topped 100 yards but did it on 3.9 yards per carry. The Chiefs also would like to run more than the 32 times they did, particularly when protecting a lead as they were.

PASS DEFENSE: F -- You just can't let the Browns' backup quarterback carve you for 171 yards, two touchdowns and a game-winning drive. And that's not including Charlie Frye's 11-for-13, 122-yard day. With no pass rush whatsoever, Frye and Derek Anderson felt mighty comfortable.

RUSH DEFENSE: D -- The Browns rushing attack wasn't a big part of the game, mostly because it didn't need to be. But Kansas City sill allowed 5.2 yards per carry, including runs of 33, 19 and 14 yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus -- Dante Hall continues to be a non-factor. He averaged 13.8 yards on five kickoff returns Sunday, failing to catch one kickoff that Cleveland nearly recovered and having one bouncing kick jump over his head.

COACHING: D -- Most of the blame here lies with the players, but Herm Edwards and staff bear the responsibility of concocting some way to get the Chiefs to win on the road, particularly against inferior competition. Also, the 32 rushing attempts seem a little low for a running team that had a 14-point lead with seven minutes to play, although the Chiefs had been throwing effectively.

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