Black Sunday Passes In Kansas City

At the first "blacked out" home game in 19 years, a crowd of supposedly 53,315 people saw the Chiefs and Browns score the most points of their respective 2009 seasons. Both teams were eliminated from the playoffs weeks ago, yet tallied up statistics worthy of a fantasy football manager's dream game.

Forty-four total first downs, over 900 total net yards and 75 combined points sounds more fitting for an epic Colts/Patriots game, but those statistics belong to the bottom-feeder Chiefs and Browns.

The game was a fitting end to a 156-game sell-out streak, and the curtain call of the prolonged "20 Year Plan" of Carl Peterson. We saw shades of the highflying offense from the Dick Vermeil era, and glimpses of the crumbling defenses that followed in the wake of Derrick Thomas' death. It was like watching highlights of the past 20 years condensed into three hours.

The Chiefs' passing and running games had arguably their best games of the season. Matt Cassel recorded his first 300-yard game as a Chief, and Jamaal Charles solidified his case as a legit NFL running back by racking up over 150 yards on the ground. Chris Chambers added another 100-yard game to his resume. Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr both snatched interceptions and helped shut down Brady Quinn and the Browns' passing game.

Despite everything that worked, more went wrong. A loss overshadows anything productive, and the efforts of Cassel and Charles will go unnoticed in the game book. The numbers that stick out are the franchise and league records.

Enter stage left, Joshua Cribbs. Enter stage right, Jerome Harrison.

Thanks to Clancy Pendergast and his goons defending the ground on defense, the Chiefs helped Cribbs and Harrison write their names next to the best players in NFL history. Cribbs set the NFL record for kickoff return touchdowns while Harrison surpassed Jim Brown's single-game franchise rushing record. On the other side of the ball, it was the third time in four weeks that Pendergast's defense surrendered over 40 points. We can all agree that Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt was justified in firing Pendergast last season after Arizona's loss in Super Bowl XLIII.

The Chiefs' receivers proved Sunday why Todd Haley has been furious with their production, dropping eight passes. One was a drop in the end zone by Dwayne Bowe. Had he hung on to the ball, it would have resulted in Cassel posting the best statistical game by a Chiefs quarterback in recent memory.

The two receivers who clearly top Haley's holiday naughty list are Bowe and Jake O'Connell. Bowe returned from his four-game suspension only to demonstrate that he didn't learn how to secure a ball in his four-week absence. O'Connell dropped what would have been the first two receptions of his career.

Fifteen weeks into the 2009 season, the Chiefs finally found their team identity, but barely anybody in Kansas City noticed it. By losing to the Browns, the Chiefs effectively sent a memo to opposing fans interested in traveling to Kansas City in 2010: "Visit Kansas City, Missouri! You'll love it (but we won't!)"

Like Bowe's dropped touchdown pass, the Chiefs have dropped this season right through their hands. After 156 consecutive sellouts, a loss on December 20, 2009 closed the curtain on an era for the Kansas City Chiefs. But nobody really noticed. No game books will ever commemorate it. Top Stories