When the Going Gets Tough...

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor??

Cliché, slightly inappropriate movie quotes aside, I know how you feel today, Chiefs fans. You feel sick. You watched the Denver Broncos stroll into Arrowhead Stadium over the weekend and walk all over the Chiefs as if they were one of the worst teams in the league. You honestly want to vomit right now, don't you?

Hold the gag reflexes, folks.

A 27-11 loss at home at a key point in the season looks bad, but in the grand tradition of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, take this advice: Don't Panic.

Consider this column The Chiefs Fan's Guide to Annual Disappointment. I admit, I'm not the foremost authority on the subject, having been a fan for only 15 years, but I figure a relatively young Chiefs fan is best-qualified to serve as author on this topic, as most of you have already had your hearts ripped out and stomped on so many times, they barely even beat any more. Some of you might feel the urge to go jump off a bridge in the middle of writing a paragraph, what with that 1971 Christmas Day debacle still fresh in your minds.

Anyway, enough of that "woe is us" garbage. The point of this column is to inspire. "Don't panic" is good, but a better slogan for our purposes might be: "Don't Overreact."

Sunday looked bad. I sat on my couch in deep depression for the better part of the second half. How could a team that was seemingly in control of the AFC West just three weeks ago let it all slip away so easily in the space of two weeks? Two consecutive losses at home? This is the stuff of nightmares.

I believe the Chiefs can wake up from the nightmare, however. This may sound like homer talk, but I'm going to chalk up the loss to the Broncos as a complete and total aberration. A statistical anomaly. A wild, improbable, what-in-the-sam-hill-just-happened-to-the-Chiefs hurricane of inexplicable madness.

This Chiefs team is better than it showed Sunday. Don't believe me? Just ask linebacker Derrick Johnson.

"It was one of those games, where you think you're supposed to win," said Johnson after Sunday's loss. "We're definitely the better team, but they were better today."

Johnson is right. The Chiefs had already proven they were a better team than Denver going into last Sunday. A win in San Diego was proof enough, and the way the team competed last week against the Green Bay Packers was even more evidence. The Chiefs should have dispatched the Broncos Sunday.

So what happened?

Two turnovers, two touchdowns, and 97 seconds. That's all it took for the game to get out of hand.

Before Damon Huard flipped an interception and flopped a fumble, the Chiefs were in full control of this football game. It was shaping up to be a good, old-fashioned, Bucball kind of game – heck, KC's offense was even running the football a little bit.

But for the first time all year – the first time – Herm Edwards' boys, and Huard in particular, blew a game with Jake-Plummer-esque mistakes in the shadow of their goal line.

As I previously mentioned, there's your aberration, your anomaly. This Chiefs team, and especially the teams Herm Edwards has fielded in 25 games in Kansas City, simply doesn't commit game-destroying blunders all that often. It's not in their nature.

But this is the NFL, and these are the Chiefs. They always seem to have a game like this every year, no matter their record, and no matter how good they are. They always blow a game they should win. This time, it simply happened within the confines of Arrowhead Stadium.

It just happens. It happened in 2003, when an otherwise monstrous Chiefs team that was ripping up the NFL went to Cincinnati to play a Bengals team that would not make the playoffs, and laid a complete egg.

It happened in 2005, when a pretty good Chiefs team went to Buffalo, to play a Bills team that would not make the playoffs, and laid a complete egg, complete with four ugly turnovers hatched personally by Trent Green (almost one-third of his entire turnover production for the year came in this one game).

And yes, it happened in 2006, when the Chiefs, appearing to be steamrolling their way down the home stretch, went to Cleveland (another team that would not make the playoffs) and put on a defensive performance reminiscent of the Greg Robinson era, giving up 31 points to a Browns offense led by Charlie Frye and a green Derek Anderson (before he shocked the world this year).

Flukes. All of them.

The only problem now is that the Chiefs, while a mere one game behind the San Diego Chargers in the divison race, and perhaps accurately characterized as a squad that's better than it showed against the Broncos, are now faced with the big, bad Indianapolis Colts this weekend. That's the Colts team that slogged it's way to a bumbling, inexplicable fluke of it's own in San Diego Sunday night, losing 23-21 on the strength of six Peyton Manning interceptions and a missed clutch field goal by Adam Vinatieri. Talk about an aberration.

Anyway, the point is that no one will pick the Chiefs to win this game this weekend. Even their own mothers will likely pick against them. People everywhere will proclaim it as the "lock of the century." Colts over Chiefs! Bet your life's savings! And your life!

Be that as it may, the best way for the Chiefs to fix this rapidly derailing trainwreck of a season is to beat the Indianapolis Colts. Send them to their third straight loss, and everything gets fixed. The Chiefs wind up at 5-5, where many thought they'd be at this point anyway, and likely pull into another tie with the Chargers, who have a tough game in Jacksonville next weekend.

Maybe no one will give the Chiefs a chance to do that. But how many people gave the Broncos a chance to beat the Chiefs this past Sunday? How many gave the Browns a chance last year? How many give the Bills or the Bengals a fair chance in 2005 and 2003?

How many people gave KC's defense a chance to go into Indianapolis last year and get deep inside Manning's head in the playoffs? Isn't it maybe just slightly possible that an improved defense could replicate that performance – or even improve on it, considering the added talent of Alfonso Boone and Donnie Edwards – and beat a Colts team without Marvin Harrison, Dwight Freeney and now-retired left tackle Tarik Glenn?

It seems all the Chiefs need is a little aberration of their own.

Impossible? Maybe. But the players – Johnson and Priest Holmes, anyway - certainly don't feel that way, even mere hours after a fluke of a loss to the Denver Broncos.

"The Colts are one of the best teams in the NFL," said Johnson. "We all put on our pants the same way; we'll go up there and see what happens."

"I feel great," said Holmes. "I'm looking forward to running the hill tomorrow and doing the things that you have to do - build that base and make yourself better."

Put your pants on and run up the hill. Sounds like a plan to me.

Hey, at least no one's panicking.

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