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Chiefs Respond To Cassel's Halftime Speech; Succop Finds Redemption

Posted Oct 2, 2011

Matt Cassel delivered a halftime speech that teammates took note of Sunday afternoon


ARROWHEAD STADIUM – Full of frustration that boiled over on the Chiefs sideline, QB Matt Cassel gave a fiery halftime speech that his teammates credited as a difference maker in the outcome of Sunday’s 22-17 victory over the Vikings.

“Matt is the leader of this team and everybody follows him,” FB Le’Ron McClain said. “He came in and gave us a good speech. He said to finish, have your brother’s back, finish and play ball.”

“He was fired up,” WR Dwayne Bowe added. “He was screaming and was like come on guys, and it (pumped us up).”

Cassel’s halftime speech followed a sideline interaction with head coach Todd Haley late in the second quarter.

At the time, Cassel was struggling with accuracy, completing just 3-of-8 passing for 58 yards. Twice the Chiefs stalled in the Red Zone and Cassel had thrown away goal-to-go passes on consecutive downs.

“It is a heated game, a heated discussion and you need to move forward,” Cassel said. “That is what our team did. Those things happen throughout the year and sometimes (the cameras) catch it and sometimes they don’t. It is just part of the game.”

After intermission, Cassel was a different player. He completed 10-of-14 second half passes for 161 yards and two TDs.

“He just moved into another zone,” McClain said.

“I seem to respond well when I am pushed and when my back is up against the wall,” Cassel said. “Coach tries to create an environment in practice where he challenges you and he rides you. He wants to make an environment to where, when you get to game day on Sunday, it’s easy. You have dealt with it throughout the week. I understand his purpose. I also like the open dialogue as well, that he is able to have with his players.”

The most impressive part of Cassel’s day was the resolve required in bouncing back from last Sunday’s late-game interception. Cassel turned in his best effort of the season following a week of heavy criticism.

“He battled throughout that game and, once again, what he showed, one of his great qualities is the ability to keep fighting and keep bouncing back and he did it throughout the game,” Haley said.

Outhouse To Penthouse

Earlier this week, Ryan Succop stood tall in front of reporters and discussed his early-season kicking struggles. Three missed field goals in as many games put Succop on the heat seat entering Sunday’s game. He’d connected on just 2-of-5 on field goal attempts.

Each of the three misses was particularly unsetting because they came from under 50 yards – a distance where Succop connected on 42-of-45 kicks his first two seasons.

Succop is now 7-of-10 on the season after knocking through a personal-best five field goals to help Kansas City top Minnesota 22-17 at Arrowhead. He connected from 22, 24, 40, 51 and 54 yards to tie Nick Lowery and Lawrence Tynes for a franchise single-game record.

“Obviously the past couple weeks hasn’t been the way I’ve wanted to kick,” Succop said. “Just everybody believing in me, the encouragement - and that starts from the top all the way down to the players - I feel really good to be able to prove them right.”

After drawing the ire of many fans following last Sunday’s three-point loss, Succop proved his confidence wasn’t affected from a slow start. His 51 and 54-yard makes came in high-pressure situations that helped the Chiefs re-gain lost leads.

Succop was cool under pressure throughout the day, showing he’d overcome a mental hurdle the most successful kickers have all had to conquer during their NFL careers. He also credited a mid-week shift in approach, unearthed by special teams coach Steve Hoffman, as key in reversing the season’s start.

“We worked really hard on slowing down tempo,” Succop said. “I was rushing at the ball a little bit the past couple weeks and it’s just one of those things where you just get a little off and you can struggle because there’s not much of a difference between a make and a miss.”

The five field goals marked a personal best for Succop. His 54-yarder was an NFL career high.

“I felt good all day,” Succop said. “It was one of those things where you kind of get out there and you know it’s 54 (yards), but you try not to kick it extra hard, because I know I can reach from there and I just wanted to go put a smooth stroke on it.”

“Stevie” Getting Loose; Bowe Knows YAC

Three catches for 33 yards wasn’t exactly the kind of production Kansas City had in mind when the club signed WR Steve Breaston as an unrestricted free agent from Arizona this summer. After two games in a Chiefs uniform, his on-field production was easy to miss.

Breaston had been targeted just four times and a 20-yard catch-and-run, on a shallow crossing route, represented his season longest reception.

Enter the previous two games where Breaston has hauled in four pass plays of 15 yards or more. He turned in gains of 15, 28 and 42 yards on Sunday and finished just nine yards shy of his first 100-yard receiving day as a Chief.

“I’m so excited we won,” Breaston said. “Being out there and contributing is the big thing. I just want to help the team out and I’m so happy for these guys getting this first win and breathing a little bit.”

Dwayne Bowe led all receivers with five catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. He was targeted a team-high nine times and re-gained last year’s yards after catch success with several broken tackles on his 52-yard TD reception.

“It was a simple hitch and go,” Bowe said of the TD. “I was running hitch and go all game and they were biting on it and coach said ‘Dwayne if I call this play will you make it’ and I said ‘Coach if you call it I’m going to score’ and they called it and I scored and came back to the sidelines.”

The Mutombo Factor

Swatted passes have made a difference for the Chiefs defense over the last two games and Tyson Jackson has been in the middle of the block party.

Jackson got his hand on another pass this week when Donovan McNabb was looking for Bernard Berrian on a second down pass in the closing minutes of play. The batted ball came one play after NT Kelly Gregg knocked down a McNabb pass at the Kansas City 41-yard line.

Had Gregg not gotten a paw on the football, it might have been a different outcome at Arrowhead. Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe was running open inside Kansas City’s Red Zone when McNabb’s pass fell incomplete at the line of scrimmage.

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