Chiefs Fold Late Against Bengals, 17-10

In the middle of the fourth quarter the Kansas City Chiefs had the Cincinnati Bengals right where they wanted them – in a tie game, pinned at their own two-yard line. But the Chiefs' defense, which had been solid all day, gave up a long drive lasting almost eight minutes and Kansas City fell 17-10 to the AFC North Division Champions.

Division Championships are a dream right now in Kansas City. The Bengals wrapped up their first title since 2002 and head into the playoffs as the AFC's surprise team this season. With his job on the line, head coach Marvin Lewis made his team believe they could win this year. On the other end of the spectrum, Chiefs' head coach Todd Haley is wondering if he'll get a second year and a chance to do what Lewis did this season.

In what was a dull game the Bengals, apart from two long second-half drives, did nothing against a shockingly stingy Chiefs' defense. But Carson Palmer put his team up 10-3 with a third quarter strike to a wide-open Laveranues Coles in a drive took nearly six minutes off the clock and chewed up 77 yards.

However, the Chiefs came back to tie the game on a picture perfect throw from Matt Cassel to backup running back Tim Castille. It might have been the best throw of Cassel's tenure in Kansas City, as he put a lot of air under a 20-yard pass that floated between three Bengals defenders. Castille took a wicked shot in the end zone but held on.

But the Bengals answered with their long drive and sealed KC's fate, dropping them to 3-12 on the season.

While the Chiefs played well on defense, they were going up against a Bengals team that had little confidence in their passing game. Cincinnati is a running team this season and Cedric Benson led them with 133 yards rushing on 29 carries. Former Chief Larry Johnson had just four carries for 11 yards.

Cincy's running game enabled them to win in the fourth quarter. As has been the issue all season for Haley's bunch, they came close, but a Cassel interception with less than two minutes to go effectively ended the game.

Cassel was decent but still not good enough to beat a Bengals' team playing a must-win game to clinch their division. But as back and forth as the game went, the Chiefs didn't quit and showed poise in the fourth quarter. That was a change from last week's game against the Cleveland Browns, where players appeared to quit.

Could Sunday's game serve as a precursor to the kind of team Haley will put on the field next season? If the Chiefs can grind it out through three quarters and learn to win in the fourth quarter, they could win more than three games in 2010. So on a day when many thought the Chiefs would get blown out, they showed heart. That was a positive sign from a team with just one more meaningless game to play.

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