The Character of a Win

From the FanPosts  -Joel

For people of my generation, November 22 holds a special significance.  We can all remember where we were and what we were doing at a certain moment on the very tragic 1963 iteration of that date.

It may turn out that this date may assume a similar significance for Chiefs fans.  If it turns out that Scott Pioli and Todd Haley can, in fact, turn this franchise around, it's quite possible that the beginning of that turnaround will be dated November 22, 2009 - the day the Chiefs knocked off the world champion Steelers.

So be sure to make note of exactly where you were and what you were doing as you watched Ryan Succop kick the 22 yard overtime field goal to get this win.  In a decade or two, you may be called upon to remember.

Make no mistake: this was an ugly win for the Chiefs.  However, they didn't win because the Steelers overlooked a lowly opponent in a classic "trap" game.  The Steelers definitely came to play, and certainly played well enough to win; they dominated the Chiefs in nearly every statistical category.

Ben Rothelisberger lived up to his billing, throwing for nearly 400 yards as he picked apart the Chiefs secondary at will, and shed at least three sacks - often turning those near-sacks into big plays.  That's just what he does.

During the first half, the Steelers defense - even without Troy Polamalu - held the Chiefs to just 47 yards of offense, and a horrifying third down conversion percentage of 17%.  They sacked Matt Cassel five times - and in the fourth quarter, forced a Cassel fumble deep in Kansas City territory.  That's just what they do, too.

But the Chiefs won because they dominated the Steelers in the category for which no statistics are kept: character.

The Chiefs won this game because in the opening moments, Jamaal Charles found it within himself to locate an invisible seam in Pittsburgh's kickoff coverage, and get the first kick return touchdown for the Chiefs since 2005.  

They won this game because Brandon Flowers didn't give up when he was burned for a 33 yard reception in the first quarter.  Instead, he stripped the ball and recovered it.

They won this game because Andy Studebaker of tiny Wheaton College proved that he's actually learned something under the tutelage of Mike Vrabel, and when given the opportunity to step in for the injured veteran, turned two tipped passes into huge interceptions.

And they won this game because Matt Cassel shook off that fourth quarter fumble - which in Steeler World, should have sealed a victory - and engineered two drives to bring the win home.

For the first time this season, the Chiefs won a game because they deserved to win.  They didn't eke it out because the other team was even worse, or because the other team made the final mistake in a game chock full of them.  Instead, they fought back against adversity - including completely boneheaded game management by their own head coach at the end the first half - to beat a very good football team.  And they did it in an Arrowhead Stadium that seemed to have more Steelers fans than Chiefs fans.

There's only one thing that wins that kind of game: character.

Before this season began, Todd Haley was famously quoted as saying 22 guys off the street could win two games in the NFL.  Whether Haley ever said this no longer matters - unfortunately for Haley, it's going to stick to him for the rest of his career.  But it's certainly true.  After all, even a broken clock is right twice a day!

Well, before playing the Steelers, the Chiefs had already won the two games that those 22 guys could have won.  And now they've won one for which they can proudly take credit - not because they were a better football team on that day, but because on that day, they exhibited the character of a better football team.

I'm certain that in the wake of this victory, there will be those who will say the Chiefs have turned the corner, and will finish 9-7.  While that is still mathematically possible, the fact is that against the Steelers, the Chiefs also demonstrated that they still aren't a very good football team - certainly not good enough to finish 9-7.

Yeah... I know.  They may indeed beat teams like the Browns and Bills, but they could just as easily lose those games.  As Marty Shottenheimer was fond of saying, the other guy is on scholarship, too.  They might find a way to beat the Broncos once or twice.  And who knows?  Maybe they'll find it within themselves to beat the Bengals, too. 

But character won't be enough.  The Chiefs still need more talent, more experience and better coaching.  Without them, they won't finish this season with a winning record - perhaps not even close to one.  Sadly, many more ugly losses are still to come - in this season, and very probably the next, too.

But against the Steelers - and for the first time this season - the Chiefs showed incontrovertible evidence that they have at least some of "the right 53" players.  If it turns out that this administration can find the rest of them before their clock runs out in a season or two, November 22, 2009 will indeed turn out to be a day we will all remember.

Until then, enjoy this win.  Your team earned it.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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