tl;dr- key points are in bold
There was a quarterback who had a very ho-hum game in the Superdome on Sunday. He threw several errant passes, many of them putting his receivers in vulnerable positions. He struggled with accuracy the whole game. He had a wide-open target in the flat, that he made a bad throw to, causing the pass catcher to have to dive for the ball. He threw a very suspect pass that the defender had a much better play on than the intended receiver, resulting in an interception. And then, in the fourth quarter and overtime...
His counterpart on the other team struggled as well. Statistically, Matt Cassel was worse than Brees, mostly due to the three touchdowns that Brees had that Cassel didn't. But during a critical phase of the game, the fourth quarter and overtime, Cassel completed 11 passes, 6 of them for first downs.
Watching the last 20 minutes of play was surprising to me. I was conditioned to believe that their quarterback would make plays when he absolutely needed to, and ours would not. I had believed that our defense, though playing hard, would allow at least one complete pass. In the game of field position, one completed pass might have gotten enough to prevent a Chiefs field goal, or kept Brees from having to drop back into his own end zone. But that critical play, the one I was expecting would finish the game in a Saints' victory, never happened.
To rewrite a Chinese proverb: For lack of a block, the pass was lost. For lack of a pass, the completion was lost. For lack of a completion, the drive was lost. For lack of a drive, the field position was lost. For lack of the field position, the lead was lost. For lack of a lead, the game was lost.
I was uncomfortable with how the game was progressing. I was afraid the Chiefs would eventually make a mistake that would cost them the game. I was resigning myself to the possibility that though they played a more competitive game, they would come up short again. But as the cameras panned the stadium, I could see something on the faces of the Saints fans: they were uncomfortable too. They were also conditioned that the current iteration of the New Orleans Saints finds ways to lose games too. When bad things started happening, their discomfort turned to fear. Play after play they were just inches from being able to put the game away. Their most reliable player, at the most critical time, did not make a play.
Matt Cassel is not a great quarterback. His play has helped lose games. But no matter how bad he is, he can't unmake the plays he made at the most critical times; he cannot lose the game against the Saints. Drew Brees is a great quarterback. But no matter what he does with the rest of his likely Hall of Fame career, he will never play good enough, never make a play that changes the outcome of last Sunday's game. It's over. It's done. Chiefs win.
Of course, one victory over a floundering team does not a habit make. One win may just be a "once in a while" event. One week from now, the Chiefs may be in last place in the division. They may still lose 13 more games this season. No doubt some people would like nothing better, to ensure a more favorable draft position, or to end the tenure of the current coach. With the team's performance this year, the milquetoast quotes by Coach Crennel over the last week, and the less-than overwhelming win against the Saints, I can't really condemn those fans for their position. Many of them have been disappointed by their team for much longer than I, and they are understandably unimpressed. They rest their hope on big changes that they don't believe will come in the short term with the teams current direction as it is.
On the other hand, every habit has to have a start. The start for the Chiefs may very well have been when they did not decide to roll over and play dead when they easily could have. That start might have been the longest run in Chiefs' history. That start might have been the biggest comeback in the team's history. Teams may not be afraid of our defense, but after last week they are certainly concerned. Our offense is still inconsistent, and settles for field goals too often, but they scored one more point than their opponent on Sunday.
Either way, just as last week, it's the next game that is the most important. What they did yesterday is over and done with. Now on to the next opponent. The goal is the same: Win. The Chief's will play host to the division-leading Chargers. On behalf of us fans who will not be able to be in attendance, I hope those fans who are will give them a very warm welcome as only Arrowhead fans can.