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The Morning After: New York

Posted Dec 12, 2011

Chiefs have no answer for Jets running backs while offensive struggles continue


EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – New York took early control of a game both teams felt it had to have and never let go.

From Shonn Greene’s 31-yard run that opened the game to Sione Pouha throwing Jackie Battle for a safety inside the final four minutes of play, the Jets handled Kansas City for all four quarters in a 37-10 victory at MetLife Stadium.

Green’s game-opening run was a snapshot of things to come when he shed multiple would-be tacklers en route to a 129-yard rushing performance.

Kansas City’s defense never had an answer for New York’s running backs – whether it was by air or ground – and the Chiefs offense continued its six-week scoring famine.

By halftime, the game was already well out of reach. Aside from New York’s 28-3 lead, the Jets also held a 253-4 advantage in total yards at intermission.

“When you can’t get a first down and you can’t keep the other team from getting a first down, it’s not going to be a good half,” head coach Todd Haley said. “That’s the way it went. We couldn’t slow them down and we couldn’t move the ball.”

It was a complete no-show on a day the Chiefs felt their season was on the line.

The loss ensures the Chiefs won’t finish with a winning record and it all but eliminates Kansas City’s fluttering postseason hopes.

“This performance was disappointing because we knew for a fact that we had to have this one,” DE Glenn Dorsey said. “This was a pivotal game against an AFC opponent in trying to get our season back and going the right way.”

A defense that had carried a struggling offense on its back for over a month finally broke down.

New York exposed Kansas City’s aggressiveness with screens and swing passes to generate 125 receiving yards by its running backs.

Entering Sunday’s game, opponents had generated more points off turnovers against Jets QB Mark Sanchez than against any other player in the NFL. But because of his success throwing to running backs, Sanchez was rarely forced to take chances throwing the football downfield.

 New York rushed for 159 yards and Greene finished as the Jets’ leading receiver with 58 yards. Fellow RB LaDainian Tomlinson finished just behind Greene with 50 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Take the running backs out of the mix and TE Dustin Keller was New York’s most effective pass catcher with four receptions for just 34 yards.

“The backs just killed us in the first half whether it was screens or when we were in man-to-man,” Haley said. “Their backs did a much better job than we did when we were covering them.”

“I don’t know what happened, but they played a better game,” Dorsey added. “They had big plays and got us in certain situations where they just executed and we flat-out didn’t.”

Offensively, the Chiefs are approaching a scoring drought of historic proportions.

Kansas City has now scored 10 points or fewer in six straight games, giving them the NFL’s second-longest streak behind only the 1993 Indianapolis Colts. In ’93, Indianapolis went seven consecutive games scoring 10 points or fewer en route to a four-win season.

Up until Jerheme Urban’s 24-yard fourth quarter touchdown catch, the Chiefs had posted just two touchdowns in their past 23 quarters of play. One of those scores came on a Hail Mary last week in Chicago.

“It was obviously not good enough and that’s frustrating,” said QB Tyler Palko, whose record as a starter fell to 1-3 following Sunday’s loss.

With a winning season impossible to achieve and hopes for repeating as division champions nearly at mathematical elimination, the Chiefs final three games look like they’ll come down to a test of pride.

“This final record stays with us,” Haley said. “It stays with each and every one of us on this team in any capacity. Right now we have five in the ‘W’ column and eight in the ‘L’ column and for some of the adversity that we’ve gone through this year, the ability to bounce back and continue to fight, I’d say our guys have a great sense of pride and don’t want to stop fighting now.”

That pride will be put to the test immediately. Up next is undefeated Green Bay.

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