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Orton takes control of huddle in first start with Chiefs

Posted Dec 18, 2011

Kyle Orton impresses new teammates with poise and confidence

ARROWHEAD STADIUM – Kyle Orton wasn’t quite sure how his new teammates would react to his gameday personality. He just hoped it would be positive.

By all accounts, Orton’s leadership style went over well in the Chiefs offensive huddle.

“How do you think it went,” G Ryan Lilja asked jokingly. “I’m looking up at the video boards during breaks and he’s Mr. Fantasy Football. He was just lighting it up.”

Orton finished his first start with the Chiefs one yard shy of becoming the team’s first 300-yard passer of the season. He finished with 299 yards passing and compiled a 104.1 quarterback rating in Kansas City’s 19-14 victory over Green Bay.

Ten different players caught a pass from Orton and eight receivers hauled in a reception of at least 10 yards. Orton took effective shots downfield and utilized most every target on the Chiefs roster.

“This about the most fun as I’ve had on the football field,” Orton said. “You go through practice and all that stuff but your teammates don’t really know you until you get in that huddle. That’s a special time for me, inside the huddle. I kind of turn into [another] person. I think everybody took it well. We had a lot of fun and battled together.”

Under Orton, Kansas City’s offense was at its best all season. The team’s 438 total yards were a season high and Orton was able to keep drives alive through the air with impressive third down efficiency.

The Chiefs opened the game with three drives of nine or more plays and finished the game with just two three-and-outs.

“He was in command of the huddle,” Lilja said. “He’s a special player and I’m glad that we have him.”

Orton’s start came nearly a month after the Chiefs claimed the veteran quarterback off waivers from Denver. He made a one-play appearance two weeks ago in a 10-3 win at Chicago, but dislocated his right index finger in his only snap.

Tyler Palko had started the previous four games for Kansas City, but was moved to a third-string role when Romeo Crennel took over for dismissed head coach Todd Haley early last week.

The Chiefs scored just three touchdowns in nearly 400 offensive snaps under Palko, who was a healthy inactive for Sunday’s game.

“He ran the huddle and he ran the whole team,” said RB Thomas Jones, who played with Orton in Chicago from 2005-06. “He’s been around for a long time and has made plays. This is nothing new to me. I’ve been around him before and made plays with him, so I know him pretty well.

“But Kyle ran the game really well. He understood the offensive gameplan and ran it to near perfection as far as execution goes.”

The only thing that hampered Orton in his first start was trips inside Green Bay’s 20-yard line.

Kansas City settled for four field goals in the 19-14 victory and punched in just one touchdown on four visits inside the Green Bay three-yard line.

The Chiefs Red Zone struggles made the game much closer than it should have been with just 20% (1-of-5) efficiency inside the 20.

After three field goals and a turnover on downs at the Green Bay one-yard line, Jackie Battle finally punched through a one-yard touchdown run on the Chiefs fifth Red Zone visit.

“We kept on pushing and kept on fighting,” Orton said. “Obviously, when you are playing an offense on the other side, which is so prolific, you want to come away with touchdowns.  We talked about it all week. They did a good job on their goal-line defense and we couldn’t punch it in.”

Incredibly, thanks to stout defensive play and turnover-free football, four field goals and a late touchdown were enough to best Green Bay’s offense.

The Packers entered Sunday’s game leading the NFL in scoring at 35.8 points per game, but Orton’s efficiency under center allowed Kansas City to possess the football for over 36 minutes.

“I think that was the key to the game,” Orton said. “I thought we did a great job of having success on first down. We ran a bunch of second-and-three, second-and-four plays. We could throw play action, we could run the ball, we could take shots and we did them all.

“I thought Bill [Muir] called a great game, was aggressive and gave us a great chance to have success.”

Orton is now 1-0 as a Chiefs starter. Though he’s scheduled to hit free agency next season and his future with the franchise is currently uncertain, Orton made a lasting first impression on his new coaches and teammates.

Who knows what the future has in store?

“He did one heck of a job,” Jones said. “It’s really tough to do that in your first game on a new team and in a new system. But he stepped up to the challenge.”

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