KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 02: Place Kicker Ryan Succop #6 of the Kansas City Chiefs kicks a 51-yard field goal to end the first half against the Minnesota Vikings on October 2, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs defeated the Vikings 22-17. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings and I'm so, so glad that they did. Blogging (and reading) about the Chiefs when they're struggling gets pretty old pretty quickly. This week we'll be talking about a victory and we know all is well in the world when we're talking about a KC Chiefs victory.
After watching the game, talking with some media folks and visiting the locker room after the game, I've come up with a few of the story lines coming out of this game. These are the types of things we'll be talking about throughout the week and you'll hear on sports talk radio.
Check out my list of the top story lines coming out of this game and drop more in the comments. (I know I missed a few (like Tamba Hali's two sacks, Dwayne Bowe's 100-yard day and Javier Arenas' 23-yard average returning punts).
Matt Cassel makes a comeback. We'll put this one at top. I keep thinking back to what Todd Haley said a few weeks ago: Cassel struggled at the beginning of last season, too, before coming into his own down the stretch. I looked back at a few of our stories from last year and, even after a 2-0 record, we were wondering about Cassel. Are we seeing him go on a similar route this year, starting slow before turning it on? I hope so. It wasn't a Pro Bowl performance today but he did enough for the Chiefs to win, sort of like last season. He passed the 60 percent mark on his completion percentage, which is a number I've harped on in the past, and helped the Chiefs convert 40 percent of their third downs. There was also a stretch when the Chiefs scored on five of six possessions. I'm not saying he's all of a sudden a top quarterback, but I do think we should recognize when he plays better.
The Haley-Cassel dust-up. TV cameras caught the two of them in what looked like a heated debate. Haley laughed about it after the game saying he has a lot of "coaching moments" throughout the game. Cassel downplayed it too saying it happens often in the heat of battle. This is one of those things where, if the Chiefs lost, it'd be the top story and we'd be using it as a symbol for the Chiefs' struggles. But, because they won, this becomes an afterthought. There were a few questions to Haley and Cassel about this from reporters after the game so it's something that'll be talked about around the web and on talk radio this week.
Since we're talking about it, here are a couple of replays to piece it all together:
More Andrew Luck stuff. People are going to be talking about Andrew Luck for a while, unless the Chiefs go on a run. It's a little early for me to be getting into it but it's out there as a postgame story line, especially as the Vikings move to 0-4.
Ryan Succop's redemption...Not so irrelevant now...Ryan Succop bounces back....Succop goes from outhouse to penthouse...Get used to those headlines. Chiefs K Ryan Succop, 2009 Mr. Irrelevant, goes from missing a key (and makeable) kick in a three-point loss last week, and going 2-of-5 on the season, to nailing five kicks today. That number ties a Chiefs franchise record and two kicks of 50 yards also ties a franchise record.
Steve Breaston getting worked into the offense. Like the rest of the Chiefs offense, Breaston was a bit of a disappointment early in the season. I think part of that was the expectations we had with him considering he was one of the Chiefs big free agent signings but he's had some explosive plays in the last two games. Last week, it was a diving 43-yard reception to put the Chiefs on the one-yard line and this week it was 42-yard and 28-yard catches en route to a four catch, 91-yard day. This offense becomes a lot better when someone takes the pressure off Bowe.
Two straight for the defense. It seems we've been focusing quite a bit on the offense early in the season but in the first two games the Chiefs defense was just as much at fault, giving up 41 and 48 points. What was up with Romeo Crennel's defense? Apparently, it was just a bad couple of games. The turnaround they've had in the last two weeks -- giving up 20 to San Diego and 17 to Minnesota -- has been impressive. I said before the game the Chiefs had to win the turnover battle if they wanted a chance to win. For the second straight game, they finish with a plus in the turnover margin.
No big injuries. At least I don't think. Has the injury bug moved elsewhere?
Yep, still missing Jamaal Charles. I'm not really sure what to think. 103 yards on 28 carries for the Chiefs rushing attack. The Chiefs are obviously missing Jamaal Charles, as we thought they would. This was a pretty average day -- four of those rushes went over 10 yards, so some minor explosion -- and it's not going to be the reason they win games. Five guys had carried the ball for the Chiefs by the first couple minutes of the second quarter so there's no doubt it's a committee back there.
Schedule watching. Yeah, the Chiefs are 1-3 and only a few teams have started 0-3 and made the playoffs. But...that doesn't stop fans from holding out some hope the Chiefs can string together a few wins. This is what I was talking about in this post earlier this week. The Chiefs had a pair of three-game and two-game winning streaks in 2010 en route to a 10-win season. They have Indy next week, which looks winnable right now. Then they have the bye before heading to Oakland. Let's go the optimistic route looking at this: What if the Chiefs win those two and then....the Chargers come to Arrowhead on Halloween night. Yeah, I'm getting ahead of myself right here but I can't help it.