The Art of Bucball

Weren't the last three weeks fun? The Chiefs threw the ball around like Andy Reid was calling the plays.

Damon Huard racked up big numbers in San Diego, the running game was run out of town against Jacksonville, and the Bengals couldn't even cover Jeff Webb a week ago.

But you had a feeling, didn't you? You knew, at some point, the Chiefs were going to start playing "Bucball" once again.

What is "Bucball," you ask? I'll let Herm Edwards explain it. Tell us what happened in Oakland Sunday, Herm.

"It was a typical 'Bucball' game," said Edwards. "It's just the way it is. Bucball. You're running, and it looks ugly. You punt, you play defense and you try to get field position. And you just hope you can make two or three good plays to win it."

And that's exactly what we saw Sunday in Oakland. Oh yeah, the Chiefs could've rolled out "Air Herm" and started attacking down the field. But not this week.

Facing a Raiders team that's struggled on offense recently, the Chiefs knew they wouldn't need 21 points to win. As it turned out, they didn't even need 14.

And so it was, the Chiefs ran on first down. They handed the ball to Larry Johnson or Priest Holmes on 16 of 25 first downs Sunday. Second down saw its share of runs, and usually that was followed by a pass, and more often than not, a punt.

Man, it was ugly. But for a while, it worked.

The Chiefs went 57 yards on their first possession and kicked a short field goal. Classic Bucball. Then the Raiders punted. The Chiefs responded, predictably, with a punt of their own. That was followed by – you guessed it – another punt by Oakland.

Then the Chiefs punted again, the Raiders committed a huge turnover, and the Chiefs – shocking turn of events here – kicked another short field goal. It was 6-0 Chiefs at halftime, and everything was running smoothly. Bucball was slowly squeezing the life out of the Oakland Raiders.

Then the second half started. More Bucball. The Raiders punted after gaining one yard in three plays. Bucball occasionally results in big plays, and so it was that Larry Johnson broke off a spectacular 54-yard run. Oh yeah, Bucball was working. The Raiders were being gored – or perhaps, bored – to death, slowly, yard by yard, play by play.

The Chiefs were about to take a 9-0 lead on Dave Rayner's third field goal of the game. In Bucball, that's almost like a 21-0 lead. Right at that moment, Edwards had to be feeling pretty good about his chances to win.

And then Rayner pushed his kick wide left.

Oops.

Everything then proceeded to fall apart. Oakland Coliseum exploded into chaos. The Raiders suddenly had new life. Oakland's offense took the ball following the missed kick, and Daunte Culpepper uncorked a ridiculously well-thrown bomb to Jerry Porter. On the next play, KC's defense, clearly shocked by the crack in Herm's Bucball gameplan that had turned into a gaping chasm, gave up a touchdown to a wide open receiver.

A calm game suddenly turned into a whirlwind of drama. The Chiefs started throwing a bunch of passes down the field. Tony Gonzalez dropped one because of a massive hit, but it didn't matter. Huard came back on the next series, spun out of a sack and launched a 58-yard bomb of his own to Dwayne Bowe.

This wasn't Bucball. It wasn't even Martyball (which is only slightly more exciting). This was Herm's worst nightmare – Arena football!

And you know it had to stop, and so it did.

After Bowe's sensational catch, the Chiefs eventually had first-and-goal from the three-yard line. Bucball, in most cases, recommends running plays only inside the five, and so that's what the Chiefs dialed up. Three plays later Johnson powered his way into the end zone, and the Chiefs had the lead again.

The next time the Chiefs got the football? More Bucball. The Chiefs ran eight plays, and seven involved a handoff. They ran about four minutes off the clock, punted, and left the game in the hands of their defense. Again, this is how Bucball wins games. It's how Bucball won the Super Bowl.

You know the rest. The Raiders picked up a couple of first downs as the clock wound down, and Jarrad Page eventually stuck a dagger in them as he's done so well in three games now.

Even though you were probably on the edge of your seat for the entire second half, it was boring football. One might even argue it was bad football. But it was winning football, at least this Sunday.

So criticize Herm Edwards all you want, but Bucball has its place and time in the NFL.

The next Sunday the Chiefs play? Bucball probably won't be appropriate against Brett Favre. But for one day in October this season, it was just what the doctor ordered.

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