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The Morning After: Monday Night Football

Posted Sep 14, 2010

Chiefs sit alone atop the AFC West

Something is different about The New Arrowhead. There’s no doubt about it.

“There was something special out there,” DE Glenn Dorsey confirmed with a smile inside the Arrowhead Stadium locker room.

When Philip Rivers found Legedu Naanee on a fourth-and-three to give the Chargers a first-and-goal from the Chiefs four-yard line, Arrowhead didn’t deflate. In fact, the building got louder. Rain-soaked fans gave it one last yell before heading home in the earliest hours of Tuesday morning.

The entire evening brought back feelings of old; those feelings of Arrowhead magic.

There were rookie return men that paired to looked like clones of Dante Hall with their own personal twist. There were crowd-ensued false start and delay of game penalties. There were big hits, big plays, turnovers and an upset San Diego quarterback. There was team speed.

But the biggest difference in the Chiefs 21-14 victory was what happened after Rivers completed that pass to Naanee.

“Dealing with our past, a team might have scored in that situation,” Dorsey said. “We all had that in the back of our mind and just said, ‘Nope, not tonight.’”  

We’ve seen it too many times before; a late-game score that ultimately downs the Chiefs. Over the last three seasons, Chiefs fans have seen a late lead slip away from their squad to add yet another “close loss” along with broken hearts and feeling of sickness.

Dorsey couldn’t have said it any better: “Nope, not tonight.”

Not tonight. The Chiefs goal line stand within the game’s final minute capped off the return of Monday Night Magic to Kansas City. A big-time defensive play has always been at the soul of making Arrowhead the loudest stadium in the NFL. Last night was no exception.

The Chiefs faithful, some of whom had been at the Truman Sports Complex well over 12 hours, couldn’t have been any louder during the four plays that would ultimately give the Chiefs sole possession of the AFC West lead.

“Oh my gosh, the crowd was amazing,” Dorsey said. “When you have people to back you up when you’re tired, you’re not as tired. You got kids and families all hollering for you and it gives you an extra pep in your step to push forward.”

Dorsey was still shaking in the locker room 30 minutes after the game ended, unable to shake the adrenaline rush that flooded his body.

“Y’all know,” Dorsey laughed. “This is one of the better games that we have played since I’ve been here. I’m excited that we came out and beat a good team. I’m just ready to move forward.”

Three to Like

1) “The Stop”

Kansas City’s defense was able to suck it up when the Chiefs needed it the most. Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates and the rest of the Chargers offense needed only four yards in four plays to send MNF into overtime. They got -2.

2) Rookie Impact

Whether it was a good play or a bad play, the impact of the Chiefs rookies was felt. On this night, the good plays far outnumbered the bad.

Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster combined to churn out 160 punt return yards, which established a new team record. McCluster’s 94-yard TD return set a franchise record, surpassing Dante Hall’s 93-yarder against Denver and even more damage could have been done if it wasn’t for a Mike Scifres’ open-field tackle on Arenas in the second quarter.

Tony Moeaki, who had been silent most of the preseason, gave the Chiefs a lead that the team would never relinquish. It happened to be his first career catch. Moeaki also converted the Chiefs first third-down conversion of the game and finished with the team lead in receiving yards (unfortunately, neither one of those were pretty areas for the Chiefs).

Eric Berry finished second on the team in tackles and settled in nicely after receiving his NFL introduction courtesy of perennial Pro Bowl TE Antonio Gates.

3) Turnover Margin

The Chiefs were able to reverse the preseason trend that saw just one takeaway and nine giveaways. Taking care of the football and creating turnovers were points of emphasis in preparing against a very talented San Diego squad this week and the Chiefs responded by winning the turnover battle 1-0.

Three for Improvement

1)   Fringe Plays

If the Chiefs don’t commit negative plays on snaps along the scoring fringe, the need for a goal line stand may never have entered the picture.

After Arenas’ first long return of the evening, Jamaal Charles was thrown for a six-yard loss on third down to push the Chiefs out of field goal range. In the fourth quarter, a first-down holding penalty pushed the Chiefs from the Charges 31 to the San Diego 41 and a punt ensued. Opportunities to score points can’t slip away in the fringe.

2)   Third Downs

The Chiefs wouldn’t convert a third down until the final minute of the third quarter. That play, which was Matt Cassel’s 13-yard pass to Dwayne Bowe, would be the only third-down conversion of the game for the Chiefs.

Kansas City finished the night with a 9% success rate on third down (1-of-11). An inability to extend offensive drives puts extra stress on the defense and Monday Night Magic won’t always be there to support the Chiefs; like on the road next Sunday in Cleveland.

San Diego ran 21 more offensive plays than the Chiefs and held the football for nearly 15 more minutes.

3)   Big Plays

The Chiefs defensive performance was gritty, but coverage breakdowns were an area of concern. When the coverage busted…it busted.

Legedu Naanee’s 59-yard TD catch didn’t feature a Chiefs defender within shouting distance and Anotonio Gates’ 34-yard catch to the Chiefs five yard-line was nearly just as open. Those catches led to all 14 of San Diego’s points.

KCChiefs.com Game Balls

Offense: Jamaal Charles

Pairing an 8.4 yards per carry mark with a 56-yard TD run speaks for itself.

Defense: Glenn Dorsey

Dorsey was a force all night at the line of scrimmage.

Special Teams: Dexter McCluster

King Solomon would suggest we cut the football in half, giving one slice to McCluster and the other to Arenas. Breaking Dante Hall’s record for the longest punt return in franchise history is just enough to give McCluster an edge.

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