The Good, The Bad, The Ugly on 30 Nov 08: Chiefs 2-10

The Good

– A Win;  No mere “moral” victory, but an out-and-out mark in the W column

– The defense didn’t give up a 100-yd rusher; the 6th straight game they did not do so

– When the offense needed to run out the clock at the end of the game, they got two 1st downs to do so and end the game with the victory kneel-down

The Bad

– Thigpen didn’t have a great day, with 0 TDs and one INT that was returned to the KC 1 yard line (the Raiders got a TD on the very next play)

– The defense gave up 139 yards rushing

– The offense couldn’t run much time off the clock on their second-to-last possession; they started at 7:50 left in the 4th quarter with a 10-point lead, but went 3-and-out and only ran 2:28 off the clock…which left plenty of time for Oakland to go 46 yards in 11 plays and tack a FG on to their score to make it a one-score game

The Ugly

– The refs had another pretty bad game, blowing several interference calls and at least one clear off-sides, all on the Raiders

– Thigpen didn’t spread the ball around as much as he normally does, instead focusing mostly on getting the ball to Gonzalez (8 catches for 100 yds); usually “The Ugly” is the section where I put the things that are so bad you don’t want to watch; this entry is merely something that is not good, but not exceptionally bad, either…so: ugly

Reasons for Optimism

– After too many games of not being able to hold a lead, Gunther finally got our rag-tag, patchwork defense to protect a leadin the fourth quarter

– Although we got zero sacks (again!), we did get decent pressure on Russell

– Three words: On. The. Road!

– This may be the turning point for the Chiefs; there is no reason they can’t win half their remaining games and end up matching last year’s record; that would be a huge victory, considering the youth and injuries they’ve experienced…even winning their remaining games is possible, considering the fading Chargers and the inconsistent Broncos: Yes, this team could end up 6-10

Reasons for Pessimism

– It was another step back for Thigpen, in some ways: 0 TD passes, 1 INT (3rd in 2 games), and another sure INT dropped by the defense

– JaMarcus Russell is no Jay Cutler or Philip Rivers; it is easier to shut down an opponents running game and scoring if their QB cannot connect with his receivers

– It’s easy to win when your opponent flubs trick plays and goes for it on 4th and 3, rather than taking the sure 3 points in both cases; momentum kills your opponent

Key Takeaways

It was another excellent performance as Defense Coordinator by Gunther Cunningham.  Page, Pollard, Flowers, Carr, and Leggett all showed up and did well.  Derrick Johnson came out of hibernation and had a good game (he dropped one fairly easy INT that would have made the game a laugher).  Demorrio Williams showed the skills that made fans happy when we picked him up as a FA.  And despite being banged up, the D-line got credible pressure.

Bradley is really a key to our offense.  He was slowed by a calf injury that occurred last game, and had no catches.  He usually helps move the chains and can score TDs when Bowe and Gonzales are covered.  His lack of speed/route-running was probably the reason our offense sputtered a little bit more against the Raiders.  If he gets healthy by the next game, expect Thigpen to return to his 2 TD, 200+ yard performances.

Bottom Line

This is the sort of performance many fans have been waiting for: to see the Chiefs win a tough, close game on the road.  The fact that it was an easy win and was against a hated rival is just more sweet.  It remains to be seen if the Chiefs have turned the corner, or merely hit a peak and are heading back into the Valley of Losses.

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