That Wasn't Progress

I'd love to sit here and wax poetic about the greatness of Tony Gonzalez, the clutch play of Tyler Thigpen, the tough running of Larry Johnson, the surprising pass rush from Kansas City's front four and the vicious hitting from the Chiefs' back seven, but it would feel completely irresponsible.

Yes, the Chiefs finally got another win over the weekend, beating the Oakland Raiders 20-13. Yes, it was fun to see young playmakers step up on both sides of the ball.

No, it wasn't progress. Don't be fooled into thinking it was for a second.

The Raiders handed Sunday's game to the Chiefs. An embarrassing (but Raiderlike) special teams gaffe and a fumble deep in Oakland territory gifted Kansas City with 10 quite undeserved points.

Combined with JaMarcus Russell's completely unprofessional performance, and the fact that Oakland's coaching staff refuses to hand the ball to their most dynamic playmaker (rookie Darren McFadden), the Chiefs had no business beating the Raiders by only seven points. Sunday's game should have been a blowout that had Herm Edwards' bunch thumping their chests and partying like rock stars by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.

Instead, we got treated to hours of completely boring football interrupted only by brief, thrilling moments of inept play from both sides.

Sorry, that's not progress. It's just two bad football teams trying to hand each other the game.

I'll admit the Chiefs' 16-play, nine-minute, 91-yard drive that effectively clinched the game with a Larry Johnson touchdown run was impressive. So was the way KC's offense salted the game away with a clock-killing drive in the fourth quarter. But other than that, KC's spread offense was ineffective, mounting just one drive over 30 yards against Oakland's 25th-ranked defense.

That's not progress.

And yeah, the Chiefs managed to hold the Raiders under 300 yards rushing this time. Actually, Oakland didn't even sniff 200 yards, but they still averaged a disgusting 4.8 yards per carry, and JaMarcus Russell made like Brandon Jacobs, twice waddling into KC's secondary for big gains. Meanwhile, McFadden, who torched the Chiefs for 164 yards in September, received seven carries.

That's not progress.

Progress would have entailed Tyler Thigpen racking up another big game and looking for a receiver not named Tony Gonzalez on offense. Progress would have entailed the Chiefs stacking the box on defense, realizing that Russell probably couldn't even take advantage of his own version of Tony Gonzalez, and shutting down Oakland's running game.

Look at it this way – the Chiefs have beaten a good football team this year in the Denver Broncos. For over a month now, they've played solid football against teams who are playing at least .500 ball - New York, Tampa Bay, New Orleans.

Now one of the worst teams in the league gifts them a win, and we're supposed to be excited? I don't buy it, and neither should you. If you ask me, this team took a step backward by not living up to the standard they set when they were competing with playoff contenders in November.

Maybe I'm wrong and Sunday's contest is just a prelude to a season-ending month of solid football from the Chiefs and more wins. But does anyone really expect Jay Cutler to throw horribly errant passes a dozen times next week in Denver? Does anyone expect Champ Bailey to allow Thigpen the courtesy of tunnel vision on Gonzalez?

Cutler is on fire this year despite Denver's lackluster running game and terrible defense. He's the anti-Russell – Mike Shanahan puts the load on his young quarterback's shoulders and pretty much asks him to win the game week in and week out. Cutler has six 300-yard games this season.

Meanwhile, Bailey has vowed to return this week from a groin injury he suffered in October. You can count the number of 100-yard games Gonzalez has had against the Broncos since they acquired Bailey via trade on one hand. In fact, you don't even need a hand, because the number is zero.

A prediction: if the Chiefs give up 4.8 yards per carry to the Broncos and put together one sustained drive on offense, they lose, big-time. Blowout city. When Kansas City beat Denver at Arrowhead earlier this season, it was mostly because of turnovers. Don't expect a repeat of that at Invesco Field, where the Chiefs have never won a football game.

Winning in Denver – now that would be progress. But I'm not holding my breath.

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