Despite the loss of Tom Brady and Brodie Croyle, Sunday's game against the New England Patriots will turn out to be a positive for the Kansas City Chiefs. A team that had lost nine straight games played one of the most formidable regular season teams of a year ago within seven points and had a chance to send that game into overtime.
This is what you call a moral victory. There will be more of those than actual victories this season for the Chiefs.
Let's see what went wrong and what went right for the Chiefs yesterday.
Bowe Blew It
During the second half, after Dwayne Bowe's third drop of the game, I leaned over to a fellow fan watching the game and said, "If you're going to call yourself The Show, you need to make that catch."
The opening performance of The Show was far from spectacular. Bowe caught five passes for 49 yards but let four more passes hit his hands and land on the turf. He scored KC's only touchdown of the game on an athletic catch at the goal line but wasn't able to repeat the play when the Chiefs needed it most at the end of the game. Bowe dropped a sure TD pass from Damon Huard on first and goal from the five yard line with less than a minute left.
The excitement was sucked out the drive after that drop and the Chiefs quickly turned the ball over on downs. The chance to tie the New England Patriots was gone forever.
Croyle Cracks Again
Before Brodie Croyle was injured in the 3rd quarter, he had put together a decent but unimpressive game, passing for 88 yards on 11 of 19 attempts. He threw the ball away when there weren't any solid options. He made tough passes in narrow spaces and wasn't helped by the drops made by his receivers.
The knocks on Croyle's toughness have become more valid after he separated his shoulder on Sunday. It's still too early for me to blanket Croyle as a guy who can't take a hit, because he's taken plenty of hits and gotten right back up. But there is a feeling of frustration when your starting quarterback can't seem to get rid of the minor injury bug. He was injured plenty in college and now the burden of proof shifts to Croyle to show the team and the fans he has the endurance to last in the NFL.
O-Line isn't that terrible
You know your expectations are low for the offensive line when they don't play particularly well and still get good marks from me.
The line allowed four sacks on KC quarterbacks and it was actually Jamaal Charles who missed a key block that allowed a NE defender to barrel into Brodie Croyle causing his shoulder injury. The Chiefs as a team just broke 100 yards rushing for the game, halting any calls that Larry Johnson is back and that the line is fixed.
Rookie Branden Albert appeared to play well as I noticed him making key blocks more than a few times. There was still way too much of the line dissolving when the Chiefs ran the ball down the middle. Rushing the ball in the middle of the field may be the Chiefs best statistical direction but I seem to remember bodies just falling to the ground when Larry would run up the middle.
Returner position still up in the air
B.J. Sams and Dantrell Savage had nearly identical days in the return game. Sams returned the Chiefs only playable punt for a nominal gain and both players split kick off return duties. Savage and Sams both returned two kicks for nearly identical return yards - 48 and 50 respectively.
Defense neutralizes but doesn't impress
After Tom Brady was injured, the Patriots' offense was definitely toned down a few notches. Matt Cassel ended up playing well in relief for Brady, completing 13 of 18 passes for 152 yards. He threw a TD strike to Randy Moss as well.
The Chiefs gave up 126 yards on the ground to a mixture of Laurence Maroney and Sammy Morris. I consider Maroney to be an amazing back so I don't expect a young defense to completely contain him. The rush defense was quite vanilla, not making any spectacular plays but they did make three stops behind the line of scrimmage for losses. The Patriots cant' say that.
The pass defense was the weak link in the defensive chain. Matt Cassel completed a 51 yard bomb to Randy Moss late in the first quarter as a helpless Patrick Surtain chases him down the field. Jon McGraw came over quick enough to make the tackle but late enough to miss making a play on the ball.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers
It's really too bad the Chiefs weren't able to capitalize on the two first quarter Patriots fumbles because any points there would have put the team in a much, much better position not only to tie but to win the game. A field goal then combined with Huard NOT throwing an interception in the fourth quarter and the Chiefs get to kick the ball instead of throw it to win.
Yes, the Kansas City Chiefs played the Patriots tight. But like most fans, I'm not as happy as I thought I would be with a score of 17 to 10 in favor of the Pats.
Croyle showed his fragility again. To the boredom of many, we got to see Damon Huard play again. No progress was made in deciding on a kick returner. The defense played alright but it wasn't against the Patriots best player.
The Chiefs deserve kudos for playing nearly mistake free but that praise will be short lived. My mind is already turning towards Arrowhead Stadium and next week's match with the Oakland Raiders. Almost no matter what this season, after each game, I will be wondering about the next game and if the Chiefs will show any consistency from week to week.