With the Kansas City Chiefs 2014 season in the rear view mirror, my final conclusion on the season is that it was a lot of fun.
Now, I know many of you may disagree. Perhaps the sting of no playoffs was just too much for you. Perhaps seeing a talented team underachieve made you too angry. Or maybe you just don't think the Chiefs are that good and it makes you sad.
In any event, today is not about sadness. Today is about some of the fun moments of 2014. The top eight, specifically. Why not The Top 10, you ask? Because I'm totally hipster and stuff, bro. I want my list to stand out among the 40 million other lists you're going to read this offseason.
Another cool and unique feature of my list is that it will not be presented in order. Well, outside of the Number One Moment of the year. That one is on its own. But everything else? That's up to you to decide. I'm very considerate like that. Well, that and it's a lot harder to actually RANK moments than to just list them. So... yeah. Perhaps "lazy" would be a more appropriate word.
I have no doubt there will be disagreement as to the top moment, as well as the top eight moments in general. But hey, it's all relative. The following were the eight most FUN moments of 2014 for me. I'll explain why, and look in the comments for your most fun moments. Let's get started.
This will be a TWO PART article. Four now and four later.
Blowing Out St. Louis
When the Chiefs hosted the Rams in Week 8, we weren't quite sure what to make of our team (some things never change, eh?).
They had just come off a nice stretch of games, winning three of four against a series of decent-to-good teams. The Rams were the first team the Chiefs had faced in over a month that wasn't expected to potentially make some noise come playoff time (remember when the Chargers were taking the league by storm? Yikes).
So the Chiefs had us at a weird point as fans. We'd witnessed a couple of terrific wins, a horrific loss (and a couple other losses that were ... frustrating), and were looking like they could be a solid team. But as we all know, one of the real tests of a good team is how they treat a mediocre-to-average team.
I don't know about you guys, but I was (privately, as my "public" persona is more optimistic) expecting the Rams to come to Kansas City and burst the bubble.
Boy was I wrong. And absolutely thrilled about it.
It's a game we've largely forgotten as the season went along. But the Chiefs absolutely SLAUGHTERED the Rams. The scored 34 straight points after going down 7-0. The defense allowed under four yards per play. They sacked Austin Davis SEVEN times. Alex Smith threw FOUR incomplete passes in 29 attempts. Davis returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
It was the type of game we just aren't used to seeing from the Chiefs.
ESPN (yeah, I know) had a GREAT line about that game in their "recap."
If there was a fourth phase to football, Kansas City probably would have dominated that, too.
Man, I WISH I thought of lines like that one. "Fourth phase." Seriously, classic stuff. What a fun game to watch and re-watch.
The "Maybe We're Not Terrible" Game
After a season of pretty competent football (for the most part), I'm not sure a lot of us remember how concerned we were as fans going into Week 3.
The Titans had demolished the Chiefs at Arrowhead to open the season. Derrick Johnson, Mike DeVito, and Eric Berry were all gone. The Chiefs were 0-2 and had many fans asking whether they were going to be able to win four games in 2014 with an absolutely brutal schedule ahead.
Making matters worse? Playing a we-have-no-idea-if-they're-any-good Dolphins team that had beaten the Patriots and been pounded by the Bills. Making matters doubly worse? Road trip to Miami, where Kansas City has been ... somewhat less than successful in recent years. And prior to recent years. And probably before that, too. I can just see a group of rapscallion young Kansas City boys heading to Florida in the 1800's only to lose in a match of "ball of foot" (which is what it was called then. Fun fact alert!).
After the Chiefs shocked us all with a 14-3 halftime lead, Miami put up 12 in the 3rd to bring themselves within a touchdown of tying the game. And we all thought, "Welp, here we go," as we waited for the inevitable defensive and offensive meltdown (recall the Chiefs were missing All-Everything Jamaal Charles that day).
But instead of "welp," The Chiefs scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter while the defense proceeded to SMOTHER Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins to the tune of no points. By the time the game was over, the score was 34-15 and the Chiefs had (at least by scoreboard judgment) blown the Dolphins out of the water.
Anyone who claims they didn't think the Chiefs were in serious, serious trouble prior to the Dolphins game is absolutely lying (to themselves or you). That game was a gigantic sigh of relief for fans everywhere. We might not be a great team, but at least we weren't terrible.
Realizing We Were Right About Travis Kelce
Travis Kelce got so much hype in the preseason of 2013, thanks in no small part to the author of this article. We drooled over college tape of Kelce outrunning secondaries, shaking tacklers, and demolishing defenders in the running game. Many of us saw superstar potential in Kelce.
Then he got hurt. And in the NFL, when you get hurt you get forgotten.
There was something of a "Kelce backlash" leading up to the 2014 season. Fans became tired of hearing about Kelce's potential and began to question whether the faith in Kelce was misplaced. "He hasn't done anything in the league" became almost as common a statement as "We have no idea if he'll ever be back to 100 percent." It was a rough time, and fans began to lose faith that Kelce would be the playmaker so many were hoping he'd be.
Then they started playing "football" (you know, preseason football) and these two plays happened.
... and no one ever again questioned whether Kelce could be a playmaker (well, other than a few "that's preseason and it means nothing" holdouts. You cynical people, you).
Kelce met and even surpassed all expectations we had for him this year. He creates separation, blocks well, has solid hands (well, when he doesn't start running before collection the ball), plays with a ton of passion, and is absolutely insane after the catch.
I don't believe it's an exaggeration to say that Kelce is the most talented YAC tight end in the NFL right now (Editor's note by Joel: Gronk?). He has the power one would expect in a man his size, but is as slippery and good in space as a 210-pound wide receiver. He's an absolute joy to watch.
Those plays were where it all started, when we sat up and said "holy crap" during a meaningless game as Kelce outran a bunch of players 50 pounds lighter than himself. It's rare that a truly fun moment would come from preseason, but these were definitely two of the most fun moments of the year (I'm counting them as one, because I'm mad with power).
Comeback vs. San Diego
The Chiefs were coming off a disappointing loss against the 49ers and were sitting at 2-3. Basically, a trip to San Diego (one that hasn't been kind to the Chiefs in recent years) was an absolute must-win if the Chiefs didn't want the season to fall apart.
It was a generally lackluster game, besides an incredible 16-yard touchdown from Jamaal Charles in which he essentially shook the entire San Diego defense before injuring Brandon Flowers in the end zone (that play almost made the list of ten best moments. Jamaal Charles is INCREDIBLE).
However, the moment (or series of moments, I guess) that stand out to me started with 1:35 left in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs defense had just allowed a field goal to tie the game up at 20 apiece. A series of underwhelming plays (an incompletion, a facemask penalty, a false start, and a tough drop by Hammond) had the Chiefs at their own 27-yard-line. Let's be honest... considering the recent history between these teams, it was hard to not imagine a Chiefs punt leading to Philip Rivers doing evil things.
As Alex Smith took the snap and Eric Fisher got beaten immediately by a spin move, that feeling of dread intensified. But Smith escaped, ran left, and instead of trying to take off and gain a few yards, kept his eyes down the field. He then threw across his body while falling backwards 19 yards down the field to Dwayne Bowe for a first down.
I have to say, that series of events was not what I expected at that moment. Suddenly the Chiefs are in the driver seat. The very next play Smith hits Kelce for a 16-yard gain (with some nice "wiggle" YAC from Kelce). The very NEXT play Kelce goes full Kelce on a quick out and basically conjures out of thin air an eight yard gain. The Chiefs go from pretty deep in their own territory to within field goal range in less than 30 seconds of game time.
Unfortunately, the Chiefs couldn't get any closer, and were now relying on Cairo Santos to hit a 48-yard field goal for the win.
In case you don't remember, Santos was somewhat ... controversial at this point in the season. And again, demons from the past were haunting Chiefs fans as they anticipated a miss and overtime. And the kick started off looking like it would sail wide right. Instead it slowly (and beautifully) drifted left, through the goal posts and good for three points.
Of course, none of it would have meant anything had the Chiefs defense folded to the wrath of Rivers (who, we need to remember, was absolutely red-hot early in the season). Which leads to the climax of this "most fun moment:"
This was the moment you and I fully realized Kurt Coleman had picked off a badly overthrown pass from Rivers and the game was over. It. Was. Glorious.
The Chiefs moved to 3-3 because of this moment, with victories over some solid teams and close losses against a few more solid teams (we're ignoring the Titans game as something that never really happened, OK?). What's more, they FINALLY beat a Chargers team that had definitely had their number the last few years. There was no more "moral victory" talk about ALMOST beating the Chargers with our scrubs.
Instead, there were "We walked into San Diego and beat a Chargers team people were calling Super Bowl contenders" (yes, it was early-ish in the season) bragging rights. There were "the Chiefs defense did well against another great quarterback" bragging rights.
It was a blast of a moment. I cheered so loud I (if I'm remembering correctly) woke up some family members. Kids don't need sleep anyway, amirite?
We'll get into the other four moments soon. But man, what a blast those four moments were.