To the fan of another team that just occasionally looks over the Chiefs record and stats, they would assume the Chiefs are a really bad team, much like Chiefs fans probably look at the Lions or Rams. And its true that for much of the season we have been as bad, if not worse, than those teams.
But despite going 0-3 the last 3 games, Chiefs fans should be getting the sense that there is something building. That the ascension of Tyler Thigpen from ridiculed 3rd string backup that threw for 39% accuracy and 3 interceptions against Atlanta in week 3, to a composed leader commanding his team in the huddle with a 102.9 QB rating in the last three games, was an important piece that was missing before.
There is no question that "Bones" Thigpen is getting more confident with each game and likewise, there is no question he is earning both the Chiefs coaches and teammates respect and confidence as well. Thigpen went over 100 passes since his last interception this afternoon. Something we couldn't even have imagined from what we saw of him in preseason or his previous appearances before the Jets game. Something has happend to him in that time.
It's not just Thigpen though. Mark Bradley, a player cut by the team that drafted him in the 2nd round, is also solidifying himself as the #2 receiver the Chiefs haven't had since the days of Carlos Carson and Stephon Paige. Tony Gonzalez continues to play as though he were in his prime, tying the record for most 100 yd receiving games for a TE in NFL history. The Chiefs defensive line recorded 2 sacks, including the long awaited first sack by Glenn Dorsey. The Chiefs defense with 4 players picked up off the street just last week was able to hold LaDanian Tomlinson to only 78 yards rushing, only 3.5 yards per carry.
It kind of makes you wonder how the game would have gone had several of the Chiefs playmakers: Brandon Flowers, Derrick Johnson and Larry Johnson; been in the game. Jamaal Charles also missed most of the game, only getting 3 carries because of aggravating his ankle injury.
Two weeks ago against the Jets, the Chiefs gave up the lead they had most of the game in the last 3 minutes. Last week against Tampa Bay, the Chiefs dominated them in the 1st half only to give up the lead in the waning seconds of the game. This week, the Chiefs came back and Thigpen delivered a clutch performance scoring what should have been the winning touchdown with only seconds remaining. Had it not been for a botched snap by a replacement long snapper on an earlier extra point try, that touchdown would have been the game winner for the Chiefs.
Unfortunately the 2 point conversion, which was by all means the correct call for a 1-7 team that had just lost the previous week in overtime without ever seeing the ball, was well defended and the Chiefs fell short once again.
Hard as it is to take such a disappointing loss, we remind ourselves that this season is not so much about winning, but about development of players and that development is well evident. Injuries to a team already lacking depth as the Chiefs are with many undrafted players in starting positions is crippling. But the players obviously are still playing hard and have been inspired by Thigpen.
Maybe next week (against New Orleans, eep!) will be the game they finally get over the hump.