With a beautifully executed first drive and quick thinking by the Chiefs new quarterback in Alex Smith, the Chiefs gave Arrowhead Stadium something to finally cheer about on Sunday.
Remaining turnover free for the second straight week, the Kansas City Chiefs topped the Dallas Cowboys in one of the grittiest, most hard fought games the Chiefs have played in a long time. The opening drive consisted of Alex Smith running quite a bit, picking up a first down on a huge 3rd and 15 run. The Chiefs offense seemed to struggle getting into a rhythm the first half (excluding first drive), but the defense stepped up to make up for the lack of production on offense. After last week’s blowout win against the Jaguars, I was anxious to watch this Chiefs team match up against a worthy opponent. You can say the Cowboys are bad on defense, inconsistent on offense, or the injuries severely hampered them, but the fact of the matter is, the Chiefs beat the Cowboys in their home opener in a hard fought game from both teams. Branden Albert went down early with an arm injury and Donald Stephenson took over at LT. The pass protection struggled mightily until Albert returned a few drives later. Jamaal Charles only had 8 carries the entire first half, causing many Chiefs fans to wonder if Andy Reid had forgotten about the serious weapon the Chiefs possess on offense. On Charles’ lack of carries the first half, Andy Reid said: “They were packing the box on us,” Reid said. “Monte (Kiffin) went with a single safety middle which is tough to run on. So we came out and threw the ball. Alex was going to be a factor in the run game. We went with the option game where we get the extra person against the eight-man front, and it worked out OK. When he had a chance to scramble, there was some nice lanes there and he took advantage of that. That’s his game.” Alex Smith finished the game as the top Chiefs rusher with eight carries for 57 yards. Teams playing against the Chiefs are going to game-plan in order to stop Jamaal Charles, but the Chiefs need to figure out a way to use him early and often. He showed us all last year that he can be that bright spot in the middle of a disastrous black hole of a team, so with an improved roster, Jamaal should exist as a bigger threat. The game seemed at times to be quite a struggle for the Chiefs, they fought hard and never gave up, but the most important thing is they made the crucial plays when they absolutely mattered the most. “You need to win games like this,” Alex Smith said. “These are the games you look at when you get into November and December. You need [this] type of win. Not just against the caliber of team like that but the style of win. It’s not always going to be pretty. It’s going to be back and forth. You’re going to make mistakes. The team that can find a way to kind of really bear down there in the fourth quarter …”
The defense for the Chiefs came up big when they needed to. Dez Bryant was all over the place during the first quarter, making five catches for 100 yards and one touchdown. However, once the second quarter rolled around the Chiefs made the necessary adjustments and Bryant was limited the rest of the game making only four catches for 41 yards for the last three quarters of play (including a dropped pass for what would have been a huge gain for the Cowboys). When asked during the post game interview about the Chiefs adjusting coverage in order to limit Byrant’s impact, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said: “Yeah, it was about the coverage and where they were.” While the Cowboys did have a blocked field goal late in the second quarter, if was the Chiefs defense that was the more dominant of the two. After the half the Cowboys marched down the field to set up a field goal, the Chiefs answered with a touchdown pass from Smith to Dwayne Bowe on a 12-yard slant to put the Chiefs up 14-13 late in the third. The Cowboys would fumble the ball on the next two possessions. Lance Dunbar coughed it up on the ensuing drive followed with a strip-sack by Ron Parker on Tony Romo. Dallas head coach Jason Garrett had this to say about his offense: “I don’t think we had great rhythm on offense, we didn’t really have the balance we wanted, we weren’t able to run the ball like we like to. They’re a pressure-oriented team and they can challenge you a lot of different ways. The way to beat them is the way we play them when we’re having success; get those receivers matched up outside. Dez had a big ball game. Some of the man-to-man coverage outside we kept winning; Tony made some big throws. But they can make you sloppy just based on their style and you have to fight through that and make some plays and make the plays really count. At times we did that today and at times we didn’t do enough of that.” The Cowboys would march deep into Chiefs territory one last time before being stopped again by the Chiefs defense forcing them to take three points instead of six. Jamaal only managed his eight carries in the first half, but he was relied on heavily in the final minutes of the game as the Chiefs did all they could to eat up the remaining time on the clock. The Chiefs took over at their 16 with 3:48 left. Charles then had eight carries for 47 yards, erasing all but 16 seconds off the clock, not enough time for Romo and the Cowboys to lead Dallas into field goal range. “That’s a tough situation to be put in, that four-minute [offense],” Chiefs QB Alex Smith said. “They know we’re running it. We know we’re running it. The whole stadium knows we’re running it. You’ve still got to get it done.”
In a game all about finding a way to get things done, the Chiefs found it, time and time again. No, the play on either team wasn’t spectacular, but there comes a time with any team where you want to see how good they do against adversity and the Chiefs did well. Sure, they have things to improve on, Andy Reid agrees: “There were some ups and there were some downs, some things in crucial situations, those young-guy mistakes here and there,” Reid said. “The guys didn’t let any of that get them down. The guys just kept pushing through. “They fought. That’s what they did. They kind of put everything else out of the picture and just fought. There are certain games where you just have to do that. They just kind of put their heads down and kept going. That might be what I’m proudest of. They didn’t have those high highs or those low lows.”
Chiefs fans, this win against the Cowboys may just be the start of something great. There is change in Kansas City, and the affect it has on the Chiefs organization and fan base is astounding. The Chiefs donned red jerseys and red pants yesterday (first time in franchise history) to signify change from years past. The affect it had on the emotions of the players and fan base in attendance was obvious. The noise level hit 106 decibles during one part of the game, and that obviously affected how the opposing team played. Andy Reid loved it, with a smile on his face he said during his post game conference: “They came out and there was a Sea of Red out there. It was crazy and our players felt that, they wanted to dress in red for the fans and so they asked me about it and I talked to (John) Dorsey about it. He gave us the ok on it, to do that, and the players feel that. Believe it or not, they feel it, especially when the ground is shaking. When our fans are going, you can feel that field and it just kind of rumbles, it’s crazy, but (an) awesome feeling.”
There is life back in Chiefs football. If the sound at Arrowhead yesterday wasn’t a clue, visiting teams at Arrowhead this year beware: Terrorhead has returned.
What do you think Chiefs fans? You liking the things that Andy Reid and John Dorsey are doing in Kansas City?
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