KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 31: Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after sacking quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers during the game on October 31, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
There were a million story lines to come out of last night's game but I whittled it down to just seven.
The Chiefs are relevant again. It was just a month ago that KC was coming off of a loss to San Diego, their third consecutive loss to start the season. We were throwing around all kinds of stats showing how rare it is to see a team start 0-3 and turn their season around. But then...the Chiefs won a game. And another. And another. And Monday night. The season is shaping up nicely with the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos -- ye of two combined wins -- come to Arrowhead the next two weeks. Mark Carman and Carrington Harrison asked me on 610 Sports this morning: Is it too early to be talking playoffs? Maybe, but it's not far away.
We may have something with Jonathan Baldwin. That 39-yard touchdown reception was awesome. After the game, Baldwin downplayed any hype and said Matt Cassel put it in the right spot for him and he was able to go up and make a play. He had a couple of miscues but, overall, the guy made plays and that's why the Chiefs brought him to KC. A productive Jonathan Baldwin may change the landscape of the Chiefs offense.
Chiefs defense continues to step up. Two picks, two fumbles and another multi-turnover day for Romeo Crennel's defense. Only giving up 20 points to a team that went inside the 35-yard line a whopping nine times is the definition of a bend-but-don't-break defense. Four field goals and just one touchdown. This might be the story line that most people are missing -- the Chiefs defense is growing up. Derrick Johnson, Brandon Flowers, Kendrick Lewis...the core of this team is impressing right now.
Tamba Hali is the man. I could've included him when talking about the defense but he needs to be singled out. What he does to this team can't be put into numbers (other than, you know, all those sacks and pressures). He made Marcus McNeill's night a penalty-fest and came away with two sacks. Todd Haley couldn't explain the effect Tamba has on this team. Tamba said those extra sprints he did in the offseason are what allowed him to go into an extra gear in yesterday's game. I remember seeing him get blocked to the ground on one play and he was slow to get up, making me think he was a little banged up. But on the very next play, he went just as hard as he did before. When we were in the locker room after the game, a huge media throng surrounded Tamba and Le'Ron McClain said, "Everyone wants to talk to the beast!" His teammates clearly understand what he does.
Jackie Battle keeps making the most of his chances. His numbers last night weren't incredible -- 19 carries for 70 yards -- but he came up huge on the Chiefs final touchdown drive. Facing a second and 10 from the 30-yard line, right on the edge of field goal range. Battle had a nine-yard carry that, in essence, sealed the game for the Chiefs. I think we have our Thomas Jones replacement for next year.
The Todd Haley beard lives another week. It's clear that Haley is endearing himself to the fans in the last month. The rally beard is something all (male) fans can get behind and it's nice to know that the coach of the team is just as superstitious as us. After the 0-3 start, Haley is winning the fans back over, that much is obvious.
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