The Chiefs mustered only three second half points to lose to the Titans, 26 to 17. Yesterday's contest, despite many bright spots, was like most of our other games. The Chiefs kept the score close in the first half but we're unable to close the deal in the second half. Done in by two Vince Young touchdown passes and four field goals, this loss was much more palpable than last week. Now is the time to look for individual positives in the game and put less stock in the final score. If I seem too optimistic in this recap, just remember it's all relative.
As MAWK said in the game day thread, there were a lot of positives to take out of this game, especially on offense. The Chiefs put together three solid, controlling drives against the Titans.
The first began with a couple of minutes left in the first half and went twelve plays for fifty-three yards. The Chiefs ground it out over the 5:06 of the drive, running it seven times and passing five times. The offense was able to get yards in small but consistent chunks, something we haven't really been able to do all season. Brodie Croyle capped off the drive with a ten-yard touchdown pass to Samie Parker. Parker caught the ball at about the five-yard line, made a quick fake to his right and spun back around to his left to run virtually untouched into the end zone. Off the top of my head, I can't remember a better Samie Parker touchdown catch.
After an Eddie Drummond muffed punt set up the Titans for a field goal, the Chiefs went on their second long drive of the half. Covering sixty-yards in fourteen plays, the Chiefs yet again controlled the line of scrimmage and we're able to manufacture first downs at will. The longest gain of the drive was a fourteen-yard pass from Croyle to Bowe. The rest of the plays came in six to eight yard gains. The drive took 6:44 off the clock and the Chiefs went into half time with the lead.
Brodie Croyle was 14/23 for 112 yards in the first half. The coaches really showed a willingness to throw the ball yesterday, with Croyle ending up with forty-three attempts. In what is a refreshing change from the past, Croyle hit six different receivers in the first half. Eddie Kennision caught five balls for thirty-eight yards and Bowe caught four for forty-one yards.
Tony Gonzalez is definitely utilized less under Brodie Croyle than Damon Huard. TG has thirty catches in his last five games, as opposed to fifty-two in his first eight games. I don't think this is anything to worry about, at least chemistry-wise. Brodie Croyle likes to mix it up a lot more than Damon Huard which will naturally result in fewer catches for Tony Gonzalez.
The Chiefs third and final scoring drive began in the third quarter and took 7:18 off of the clock. Despite back to back holding penalties on Jason Dunn and Tony Gonzalez, the Chiefs again trudged away for fourteen plays to get to the Tennessee seventeen-yard line to set up a John Carney field goal.
Brodie Croyle's final stats aren't a good way of describing his effort. He threw two interceptions in the second half which effectively ended the Chiefs chances of winning the game. Still, he was calm in the pocket and willing to scramble and take a hit when he needed to.
Part of the success that Croyle had yesterday could actually be attributed to his offensive line. What? What's that you say? The offensive line was effective yesterday? Yes. It really was. The Chiefs gave up no sacks and no Titan defensive player registered any quarterback hurries. Kolby Smith was able to rush for 4.6 yards per carry. Will Svitek played a pretty solid game at right tackle. Yesterday was one of the best efforts by the Chiefs offensive line this season.
Hopefully, Dwayne Bowe is getting his rookie drops out of his system in garbage time this season. If Bowe catches Croyle's first pass of the game, he may have ran it in for a touchdown. It appears that Croyle and Bowe already have good chemistry together. I think those problems will be worked out by the beginning of next season. One h
I know we only saw him in on a couple of plays but I don't see anything in backup running back Gilbert Harris. He's a poor man's Derrick Ross, with maybe even a worse case of fumblitis.
I've got to hand it to the coaches and the offensive play calling this game. At the very least, it was unconventional. The Chiefs started off the game with seven straight passes and followed that up by running the ball six of the next seven plays. The Chiefs were an insane 11/17 on third down.
Anytime this offense scores two touchdowns, it's probably at least partly due to good play calling.
The Chiefs are ranked ninth in the league in passing defense. But it doesn't feel like it, does it?
Vince Young was 16/26 passing for 191 yards and two touchdowns. With just under four minutes left in the third quarter, Vince Young hit Roydell Williams for a forty-one yard touchdown strike. Another week, another wide open wide receiver. That touchdown put the Titans up by three points and they never really looked back.
There wasn't a ton of quarterback pressure but I'm not laying any blame for that on our defensive line. Vince Young is an agile and mobile quarterback who is simply hard to sack. The Chiefs did give up 148 yards rushing, which isn't anything new. 92 of those from LenDale White; 32 from Vince Young; and 23 from Chris Brown. That was a little over twenty yards more than they usually give up.
Field goals were the difference in this game. The Titans had the same number of touchdowns as the Chiefs but had four field goals. Rob Bironas kicked field goals of 37, 37, 40 and 25 yards. After the Titans had gone up 20 to 17, Bironas' two field goals in the fourth quarter put the game out of reach for the Chiefs.
Positives to take away from this game include the ever-developing Brodie Croyle. He showed that he can put the football in tight spots, move his feet when he needs to and throw the ball away when he needs to. His four losses in the NFL as a starter don't point to any major flaws. Remember just how bad this offense can be.
We've talked about our defense like it's a big-time top ten defense but these last four games have challenged that wisdom. Let these final games serve as a wake up call to our defense that there is still a lot of room for improvement.
Kolby Smith has proven to be a capable starter in this league, at least for the Chiefs. He's tough and willing to give out hits as well as take them.
If Derrick Johnson keeps improving, there's no reason he shouldn't be in the Pro Bowl within two years.
The Chiefs still don't have what I would call a complete game this season. A game where everything clicked for pretty much all four quarters. I don't really expect them to have one against the Lions or Jets over these next two weeks but it would be nice. Just to have something, anything to hang our hat on would be a huge positive.