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Arrowhead Report: Thursday, November 18th

Posted Nov 18, 2010

Derrick Johnson says that the Chiefs are in a must-win situation against Arizona this Sunday

The Chiefs have found a way to make practice fun. At least, that’s the report that came out of Kansas City’s locker room on Thursday afternoon.

Todd Haley’s “back to basics” approach this week has included a return to full-padded practices and, admittedly, it’s been a grind for some of the players. But this type of mid-season grind seems to be one that the Chiefs are embracing.

Thursday’s locker room atmosphere was at its best in several weeks; all apparently because practice has become “fun” again.  

“We were in a little bit of a routine, but now the guys are back to having fun and running around,” DE Wallace Gilberry said. “We feel like little kids out there. Hopefully we can take all of that energy out there, harvest it and let it explode on Sunday.”

During Kansas City’s two-game losing streak, consistency has lacked across the board. Over the past two games, the Chiefs are committing more penalties, allowing more turnovers and seeing both mental and physical errors increase.

“That’s been a main factor for myself personally,” Gilberry said. “Being consistent is something that you have to work on and it doesn’t come easy, nor do you expect it to. We’ve gone back to the basics, do the little things right and correct those things, because those little things turn into big things on Sundays.”

Thursday’s mid-week pick-me-up, in the midst of cold weather, is a welcome sight for a team that badly needs a victory on Sunday.

“We just need to win and get the team’s spirit back up,” WR Terrance Copper said. “Practice is always going to be a grind to get ready.  We’re focused on one thing: winning. If it’s time to get back to grinding, then that’s what we’ll do.”

A Must-Win Game

The stakes have continued to grow along with the Chiefs 2010 season, and it’s exciting to see meaningful football return to Arrowhead once again in November and December. Throughout the year, Haley has circled specific games as “the biggest game of the season.” It’s part of his one-week/four-quarter approach to the year.

As the Chiefs continued to win early-season games, the games just kept getting bigger.

We’re likely hear more of that big-game sentiment should the Chiefs continue to stay a part of the AFC West chase, but this week we finally heard our first “must win” statement of 2010.

 “This is a must-win, have-to-win, got-to-win…we need it all this game,” LB Derrick Johnson said. “We don’t’ have a losing record, but we don’t’ want anything to snowball. We can get a win at home and we need to get it done.”

Johnson is right. If there is any game this season that has resembled a must-win, it’s this week. The Chiefs are losers of two-straight in the division and last Sunday was definitely the lowest point of the season thus far. If there is any place to get right, it’s at Arrowhead against a team riding on a four-game skid.

Just six quarters ago the Chiefs were on the verge of extending their AFC West lead to a three-loss cushion. Instead, the Oakland Raiders would now represent the AFC West should the playoffs start today. What’s transpired since Jacoby Ford’s 94-yard kickoff return TD that began the third quarter in Oakland is the perfect example of the NFL representing the “Not For Long League.”

“We have to get back on track to lead this AFC West,” Johnson said.

Black Hole Beat Down?

Maybe it’s pure coincidence or maybe there’s actually something to it. Let me just present the facts.

There’s something strange going on with teams that have played in Oakland’s Black Hole over the past month. Since October (which is arguably when the Raiders started playing solid football again), teams coming off a game in The Black Hole are a combined 0-4 and have been outscored 144-63 in their next game. Each of the four teams is also a playoff contender.

Take a look at what has happened the following week to to each team coming off an Oakland road trip since October 1st

Houston lost 34-10 vs. the New York Giants

San Diego lost 20-17 at St. Louis

Seattle lost 41-7 vs. the New York Giants

Kansas City lost 49-29 at Denver

Coincidence or not, what do you think?

The Chiefs have said that Oakland is one of the most physical teams that they have seen all season. Maybe the Raiders are beating teams up and that’s carrying over to the next week.

McGraw Downgraded

Thursday’s injury report was identical to Wednesday’s, with the exception of Jon McGraw. McGraw, who was inactive last weekend with a knee/head injury, had his status downgraded to “did not participate.” McGraw was limited in his workload yesterday, but wore sweats to practice on Thursday afternoon.

Rookie TE Tony Moeaki (head) was once again not on the practice field while Brian Waters (groin) and Dexter McCluster (ankle) remained limited. Rookie Jon Asamoah continued to take reps with the first-team offense at left guard.

Kendrick Lewis (hamstring) participated in full again on Thursday and appears to be in line to play on Sunday.

Simoneau Retires

Chiefs LB Mark Simoneau decided to end his 10-year playing career today. Read about it here on KCChiefs.com.

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