Good, Bad, Ugly
Well, the Chiefs won a close one, needing a last-minute goal-line stand to hold off the San Diego Chargers’ high-powered offense. The Chiefs won by playing disciplined ball, hard-nosed defense, and electrifying special teams. A big play in the running game helped, too.
The rest after the jump.
Arrowhead Stadium caused multiple delay-of-game penalties and burned time-outs by San Diego. The fan noise probably gave the Chiefs just enough edge to win.
Great production from rookies:
– 2 pass defenses from Arenas
– Punt-return TD from McClusters
– Long punt returns and kick-off returns from Arenas
– Great TD catch, other receptions by Moeaki
– No turnovers
– Directly led to winning the TO battle
– Fewer penalties
Derrick Johnson: 12 tackles, 1 FF
Brandon Flowers: great open field tackling, good coverage
Brandon Carr: allowed some catches, but broke up several other passes (3 passes defended, even more incompletions thrown to his receiver). Fumble return changed the game, gave the Chiefs momentum and an easy score
Jamaal Charles’ long TD run stopped a rout and gave the fans reason to disrupt San Diego’s offense
Run defense has arrived: held highly-regarded rookie to way under 100 yards and under 4 yds/carry. Mathews was even pulled from the game late for Tolbert when the Chargers looked for a spark from their running game.
D-line put pressure on Phillips without having to blitz very often
Tackling significantly improved over previous years
The O-line only allowed one sack of Cassel
Succop put two kicks in the end zone for touchbacks
Chargers’ passing game more effective in the rain than the Chiefs
Struggled to turn pressure into sacks; only sacked Phillips once; blitzes failed to reach the QB
Didn’t give Charles enough touches to break 100 yards
Even worse, use of Charles became predictable in the second half, preventing effective utilization
McCluster had very little effect other than single punt return
Allowed 5 players to have 20+ yard reception
Eric Berry blew coverage that allowed a TD—at least once for sure, and maybe twice (depending on who actually had responsibility for the easy Naanee TD catch)
McCluster was unable to adjust to the slippery turf, still trying to make sharp cuts…which led to at least two ugly, unnecessary slips that left yardage on the field
“True” WRs (excluding scat-back McClusters) had only 2 catches
Matt Cassel: 8 for 20 for 68 yards
Blown coverage allowed Chargers an easy TD
7-yard shanked punt by Colquitt
I thought it would take more than a +1 TO differential to win the game
Despite all the hype around Studebaker, he only made one play…and that was on special teams (providing the only block McCluster needed for his TD romp). The defensive line on Studebaker: 0-0-0-0-0-0.
At times it felt like the defense was unable to stop the Chargers: when the Chargers needed a first down, they got it more often than not; when the Chargers needed a long pass completion, they got it more often than not…but the Chiefs did allow only 1 of 3 4th down conversions, and the one they allowed only sustained the final drive that they snuffed later. And the Chiefs’ defense only allowed 4/15 (26%) 3rd down conversions. So that demonstrates heart and a great bend-but-don’t-break, stop-em-when-it-really-counts gut check toughness. Hopefully that will continue all season.
Bottom line: It was one game. It was the home opener. It was the first game in the renovated stadium. It was the Chiefs’ first Monday Night game in years. The weather helped our running game and pass defense and maybe our special teams. All of which means that there are no guarantees we’ll see this gutsy, hard-nosed style of play again at all this season, much less sustain it for the rest of the year. But if this is how the Chiefs play the rest of the year on defense, special teams, and the running game, the Chiefs will be a playoff team. But that is a huge “if,” and probably just one win too far away this season.