The Chiefs Are Back

There weren't many people who thought the Chiefs had any chance to defeat the Chargers in San Diego, but the script was simple for the guys in red - be patient and take advantage of every opportunity. Kansas City did just that as the offense fed off four turnovers forced by the defense and fought their way to the biggest win of the Herm Edwards era.

The Chiefs walked out of Qualcomm stadium with a 30-16 victory. It was a convincing win, and one that gives head coach Herm Edwards reason to get that monkey off his back. Right now his team is in first place and can firmly set its sights on the division race. After an 0-2 start this football team now has a solid defense, a new go-to weapon on offense and a running back who found his groove in crunch time. The key to this football game was the fact this team, for the fourth straight game, never gave up.

The Chiefs are playing hard, and they're focused. They've won two games in a row because they believe in their head coach, and in each other.

There were a couple of things that really stood out on Sunday. First off, the Chiefs stuck with their gameplan. Early on last week Edwards told me his offense would air it out against San Diego, and though Huard had troubles in the first half, once offensive coordinator Mike Solari spread out the offense it negated San Diego's pass rush. Then it was game on for Kansas City.

The Chargers' secondary was over-matched for most of the day, and couldn't cover both Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe, who's shown in a short period of time that he's a team leader and a playmaker. In college at LSU he was a master of catching poorly thrown passes, and with Huard not always on the money he's shown the ability to adjust to the ball in midair.

But the really exciting part Sunday's victory was the fact that KC's defense continues to grow. They've been able to produce turnovers despite the fact that they only rush four the majority of the time.

Linebacker Derrick Johnson had his first career interception, but it was his sack of quarterback Philip Rivers that led to the Chiefs' first defensive touchdown since 2005.

When Rivers fumbled, rookie cornerback Tyron Brackenridge was right there to scoop it up. He capped the play by rambling 50 yards for a score, giving the Chiefs an insurmountable 14-point lead.

Now the Chiefs return home and will play four of their next five games at Arrowhead, where they can continue to grow offensively and climb the defensive charts.

After losing the first two games, everyone lumped this team into the melting pot with the NFL cellar dwellers. Now they've moved out of the basement to the top of the division – albeit tied with the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos – but that doesn't matter at the moment.

What does matter is that Kansas City has a football team it can be proud of, and a head coach who might just know what he's doing after all.


Five Game Balls


1. FB Boomer Grigsby - It was good to see one of KC's most unselfish players get back on the field. Grigsby logged three tackles on special teams and was key in stopping Darren Sproles from breaking off a long return. Grigsby showed that "crash" mentality that had been missing the last three weeks. What really separated him from some of the other special teamers was the mere fact he can tackle. The Chiefs need to keep him on the active roster.

2. QB Damon Huard - Huard plays from one quarter to the next knowing that Brodie Croyle is breathing down his neck. Kansas City's young quarterback has taken more reps in practice than a normal backup would. Huard, who is under the microscope with his head coach, might have been pulled against the Chargers if he hadn't started making plays in the third quarter. But he's getting the job done, and developing a rapport with Bowe, as he did with Gonzalez last season. If he can do the same with Eddie Kennison, who will likely return next week, he'll stay the starter as long as he keeps winning. With so many home games on the books for the Chiefs the next eight weeks, the fact Huard has never lost at Arrowhead might turn out to be a real blessing.

3. K Dave Rayner - Three more field goals, all in crunch situations, and all right down the middle. For the second straight week Rayner picked up the slack for the offense. In years past, the Chiefs didn't always have a kicker who did that. This entire offense is a work in progress, and that means Rayner is going to have to continue his strong kicking until the extra points start piling up.

4. LB Donnie Edwards - I thought Edwards' absence from the Chargers really wasn't a big deal, but after watching San Diego's linebackers on Sunday, it was clear the unit is a mere shell of its former self. For five seasons Edwards was the heart and soul of an extremely talented defensive front seven. Only Shawne Merriman had a strong game against the Chiefs Sunday, so the Chargers' loss is truly the Chiefs gain. Edwards was outstanding in the second half once the team started stopping LaDainian Tomlinson, and he was able to shut down Antonio Gates. Edwards' presence in KC's defense has allowed Derrick Johnson to develop into a potential All-Pro linebacker.

5. OC Mike Solari - For the second straight week Solari did a solid job of adjusting at halftime. I would have liked to see the Chiefs score more points in the first half, but Solari showed brilliant patience in waiting to spread the field after halftime. The issue now is to solve the offense's early-game struggles. Solari can afford to take more chances because he's backed up by a defense that's so much better than it's ever been during his entire career in Kansas City. But these are minor criticisms. Solari deserves a game ball.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories